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South Dakota Rural Enterprise Opportunity Roundup - Small retailer resources

I am looking for small business retail marketing resources / ideas that you may have to share with a small business owner that I am assisting. The store is called Toppers Clothing in Delano, California. The business is 30 years old and the new owner a former employee has owned the business for just 2 years. Store is downtown on Main Street with limited parking and the main product line is men's clothing for ranchers, farmers in a Hispanic community with population of 50,000.

  • Here is a great industry profile from NC SBTDC:
    http://sbtdc.org/pdf/retail.pdf
  • I would look over the customer list and develop a brief survey of at least the top 200 customers (not knowing how many customers they may have) and ask them questions about what the store has done well and what it should do in the future. I would then develop a Customer Development Program (CDP) around this base data. The idea of the CDP is based on 80% of their business is likely coming from customer referrals so they should become more "customer centric".
  • You may want to consider your local SCORE program. I have found that there are numerous retired retail executives who participate in SCORE. They may have some great ideas for your new business owner.
  • I'm Hispanic and Italian. What I know from personal experience is that Hispanics are extremely loyal to those who do things for their children. In a small community like that, if your business owner offered a scholarship program or events/tickets that children would love to see, business loyalty would probably increase. In small Hispanic communities, word of mouth is your most powerful advertisement and news travels fast. I think grassroots efforts will be the most impactful.
  • If you are assisting with developing sales or increasing the sales for this business, consider an eBay-based business or store as an additional marketing channel. I'm located in rural North Dakota and there are several businesses that have had success in developing a great deal of sales through the use of eBay. With our remote location and limited customer base, this has proven to be an excellent resource. I'm also an eBay Education Specialist and there should be someone in your area that could assist in the training. Education Specialists utilize the same training materials as used by eBay University. Use this link to find one near you: http://www.poweru.net/ebay/student/searchIndex.asp
  • One of my favorite examples of what can be done from a rural location is Dakota Cabin Quilts in Hettinger, ND. Hettinger is a town of about 1,400 people that is the largest town within 40 miles. A doctor there, Dr. Laura Walker, and her husband Wes started DCQ because of Dr. Walker's passion for quilting and inability to find quilting supplies in or near Hettinger. Their approach from the beginning was to use the web and they have a great website. They have now sold quilting supplies in all 50 states and in many overseas locations. They have grown the business to 6 or 8 employees. My wife who is quilter tells me that they are the best quilting store that she has seen. In addition Dr. Walker does a wonderful, folksy e-zine every Sunday about her store, family, community. I read it every week, even though I don't have any interest in quilting.
 

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