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THE MISSION OF ELIZABETH CITY DOWNTOWN, INC.
“THE ECDI OFFICE WILL BE A CATALYST OF REVITALIZATION, ACTING AS A CENTRAL RESOURCE FOR POTENTIAL INVESTORS, VISITORS, AND RESIDENTS INTERESTED IN OUR HISTORIC WATERFRONT DOWNTOWN.”







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Step Up Your Retail Game

Rebecca Cross

 Last week I attended the NC Main Street Conference in Shelby, NC.  It was a great time to connect with other main street/downtown folks and learn a lot of information about what others are doing around North Carolina to revitalize their downtowns.  Our own Tim and Cindy Williams were there to receive their “Main Street Champion” award for all of the great things they contribute to Elizabeth City Downtown, and we were presented with the “Best Downtown Special Event” award for the 2010 NC Potato Festival.  While in Shelby I was able to attend some great workshops including one called “Step Up Your Retail Game” focusing on helping downtown merchants go to the next level of success.  The presenters were Jeanne Leonard of the Candy Factory in Lexington, John Taylor of Brevard’s O.P. Taylor’s Toys and Gene Rees of F. Rees Clothing in Mt. Airy.  Here are some of their secrets of success!

  • Buy the book “Purple Cow – Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable” by Seth Godin
  • Make an “experience” in your store for customers to remember
  • Consider – What does the outside of your shop look like?  What is your first impression?  Are there clean windows, professional looking signs, attractive window displays, awnings, planters or flowers outside?
  • Pay attention to your entrance – what do you see?  Attractive displays that change each month? Remember you are inviting guests into your “home away from home” and they should feel welcome
  • What kind of lighting do you have?  Florescent? Halogen?  Lighting really makes a difference!
  • Advertising can be expensive, so look for free advertising or gimmicks to use.  Have contests, hold classes, give awards, get the newspaper’s attention
  • Education is key:  go to trade shows, visit other businesses like yours, read trade magazines, get Rick Segel’s free emails (ricksegel.com); keep current
  • Do the best that you can with what you have – and be a little better than the next guy
  • Have a positive attitude always, and interact with your customers (talk to them – don’t ignore them)
  • Know your product!
  • Be willing to gift wrap and be willing to ship to other locations
  • Try getting better deals from suppliers during this challenging economy
  • To Be successful – Look successful
  • Meet, share and collaborate with other local merchants – each store needs the other stores to succeed together (i.e. join Elizabeth City’s Downtown Business and Professional Association and the Chamber of Commerce)
  • Resolve a problem so well that the relationship is better than when you started
  • Have something in your business that gives you a larger profit margin, monitor your margin, and protect it; get rid of what doesn’t work
  • Target marketing - Keep a database of all your customers with their information so that you can send custom mailings, emails, etc.
  • Sell gift cards!
Appreciate your customers – try sending handwritten thank you notes