I could have started this article or named this article “Do Something or Die”, but I have fallen in love with the term pro-active retailer.

There is such a clear line being drawn in business today between the successful businesses and the ones that are complaining about business, complaining about the economy, complaining about the government, and blaming everybody but themselves.

I hope everybody is as excited as I am that the election is finally over. I was sick and tired of listening to all of these negative ads about how horrible their opponents are and why we should never vote for them.

Well, now that it’s over, it is one big giant love fest and it’s time for the After-Christmas Sales that are now starting before Veterans Day. Give me a break! If the only way we can entice customers to shop our stores is by lowering the price, then it’s time we go back to retailing school and realize that price is only one component.

I recently had a friend of mine tell me that I was all wrong and that they were in Macy’s and observed how the majority of the customers were gravitating towards the 75% off rack.

Of course they are going to gravitate to the 75% off rack...so would I!

Having said that, we must realize the importance of having last call sections. We can’t put our heads in the sand and only try to sell regularly priced merchandise.

Everybody loves a bargain. We have to have a mix of merchandise at different price levels. We also have to have all different types of promotions, such as educational or fun events that keep us coming back to the store without having to give the store away.

This week I lost the hard drive on my computer. I don’t understand why — I only dropped it 12 or 14 times! (Only kidding — but I am rough on computers because of my travel schedule.)

I own an Apple Mac-Book Pro and was able to get the first appointment in the morning to bring my computer in. The store opened at 10:00 and my appointment was at 10:15. I drove up to the Mall of Millenia in Orlando at 10:00. I had the first parking space in the first row at the main entrance.

I walked into a mall that was basically empty, but as I turned the corner into the Apple Store, I was in shock to see a jam-packed store with at least 15 sales people/educators as busy as can be.

I couldn’t tell if everybody was there to take a class or learn something about a new Apple product that they may own or consider buying. Does it even make a difference? They were in the store giving a retailer an opportunity to sell them something.

What are you teaching your customers? What opportunities do you have to bring customers into your store other than just a low price? We need to explore every possible opportunity to bring customers into our store for more than just price.

I had a horrible retailing experience this week. I went into a store to purchase an item and left being thrilled with the experience and the professionalism of the salespeople. I went online to show someone what I had purchased, only to find out that if I had purchased the item online I would have saved 10%.

I was purchasing the item from the parent company that supplied the store plus there was no sales tax because I was purchasing the item from the company which was located outside of the state that I was in. That is unfair competition.

Why wasn’t there one politician during this campaign who addressed the loss in sales tax revenue due to out-of-state purchases? But we’ll save that for another article.

The point is simple. It is getting harder and harder to compete with the price if we have obstacles such as this. We must make our store a magnet to customers by being creative with our promotions, themes, product mix and the new ways we can now touch the customer.

What I am saying is our message to attract customers to our store must be innovative, creative, different, tried and true, and scheduled as tightly as a train schedule. I am also saying that is more than just the message, it is also now the method in which we reach our customer and potential customer that will make us succeed as well.