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A really nice place to shop

I end up in a variety of stores every given week. Part of my job (and passion) is visiting retail stores, primarily natural foods and grocery stores. But having my roots in retail (from way back in the 70's) and focusing on retail so much every week, I analyze my every shopping experience — from visits to hardware and home improvement stores to drug stores to convenience stores to see what I can learn by observing and noting what is done, both right and wrong.

Last summer my wife and I were fortunate to move into a new house. That has necessitated visiting quite a few stores as we have been getting our home furnishings to fit in the new space and create the environment that we want in our home. We have been to some stores that we endure – and a few that we really enjoy. (And a few that we probably will never go back to!)

One that stands out in my mind is our local Kirkland's. Prior to six months ago, I don't know if I could have told anyone where Kirkland's was, never mind what they carried! (FYI, they are a chain with locations in more than 25 states. They have home decor — pictures, frames, lamps, seasonal items, small furniture pieces, etc.)

During our last trip there, we created a fair bit of work! We wanted a table. It was, we learned, the last one. It was also covered with a variety of other merchandise that was for sale. Just as eagerly as if I'd asked the clerk to pick up money, the young man on duty eagerly pitched in removing lamps, dusting the table, pulling it out so that we could inspect it for scratches, helping me carry it outside and assisting me with loading it in my car. A owner? No. A manager? Nope. A commissioned sales person? A department manager? Nope. Nope. A teenager on a part-time job!

They obviously hire right, train right and treat their staff right because what we experienced from this young man was the norm that we've grown to expect.

Here is a picture that shows something pretty cool! It is a "design area" that was created by one of their staff. It was one of 6 in our local store. What a great way to help customers see how products would look together in their home, increasing purchases and satisfaction! Also — what a great way to recognize and involve your staff!

Hire right. Train right. Treat them right.

I don't know if what we have experienced at our local store is found in every Kirkland's or just at the one in south Tulsa. In any event, it is great to see how they take care of their staff — who then take care of their customers!

I will be co-presenting a seminar along these lines at Natural Products Expo East in Boston next week. (You can learn all about the show at The seminar is entitled "Motivating Front Line Staff" and it is a part of an all day Retailer Workshop. You do need to pre-register, and there is a fee to attend, but you will gain so much from this series of presentations! During my session, I will be joined by one of the leading natural products retailers in country, Michael Kanter of Cambridge Naturals. ( I will be sharing "theory" — speaking mostly on what I teach about motivation in my Organizational Behavior classes – while Michael will be focusing on "practice" — giving examples of what has worked in his store for nearly 40 years. The combination should provide some very useful ideas!

I will also be part of a session for start up and new manufacturers called "Product to Shelf," moderating a session about Distribution with a panel of industry luminaries and also presenting a seminar entitled "Health Is Not What You Think," sharing some cutting edge research on shopping behaviors. You can get information on these — and all of the other education sessions and events — on the Expo East website.

I look forward to seeing you in Boston!

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