By Kevin Leahy

The retail “landscape” has changed immensely in the forty years I have been involved in it. I think back to my early years as a stock clerk and delivery boy working for Harry and Mary Steinbock at Steinbocks Pharmacy at 11th and Commercial in Astoria. There was something about the scents of the store with the cosmetic counter always busy, a pharmacy that had non-stop customers and city business being transacted (Harry was the mayor of Astoria at the time), and the store full of shoppers being offered a tremendous selection, and amazing customer service.

The retail “bug” bit me hard there, and evolved into a career in management spanning 27 years working for Meier & Frank in Portland, Robinsons-May in Los Angeles, and six years as owner/operator along with my wife Karen of our own store in Valencia, as well as a principal in the national franchise group.

The tsunami of changes that have occurred revolve around the growth of big box stores, Amazon, on-line shopping and the changing shopping patterns of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. But at its core, retail is the same business it has been forever, offering a unique shopping experience (hopefully!) to customers, owners who are passionate about their business, and for the most successful small business owners, an understanding of the critical importance of financial planning and budgets, product and merchandising offerings and techniques, treating employees with respect, stellar customer service and an ongoing desire for personal professional development.

A tremendous training opportunity is coming to the North Coast in October.

Clatsop Economic Development Resources and the Clatsop Community College Small Business Development Center are hosting the “North Coast Retail Summit “on Tuesday, October 18th, at Clatsop Community College in Astoria. Columbia Hall Room 219, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Summit is the first ever all day workshop devoted exclusively to the retail businesses of Clatsop and Pacific counties.

Topics include:

• How color attracts the right customer

• Where the eyes go the feet will follow

• How to attract new customers with your storefront

• How lay-out draws customer’s in

• Managing your inventory investment aka improving your cash flow and increasing sales

• How to use financial statements to manage your inventory

• How to determine your inventory budget

• How to create an Open-to-Buy budget

• Remarkable customer service; essential in independent retail

• Seven strategies to create a remarkable customer service team

Co-presenters are Leslie Hildula and Terry Long from the Portland Community College Small Business Development Center.

Leslie has worked with the PCC SBDC since 2012, has been coaching and educating many retail clients in the Portland metropolitan region, and has led the growth of the Portland Community College SBDC Retail Small Business Management Program. Leslie helps entrepreneurs achieve their goals.

Terry focuses on the critical financial elements of running a successful retail business. He teaches financial management and operations systems at the PCC CLIMB Center. His goal is for clients to incorporate the concepts and techniques into their own business.

Cost is $49. To register, contact or call 503-338-2402.

The CCC SBDC has worked with hundreds of North Coast retail businesses over the years. This summit has been years in the making, and all retailers in our region should plan to attend this educational and transformational summit.

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