I stopped in a hobby store the other day, where I’ve been buying supplies for almost 30 years. The owner and I are about the same age, but he looks ten years older than I. I hadn’t been in for about two months. He was quite depressed.

He told me he’s dying a slow death, that “retail can’t survive” any more, and that people were now buying electric trains and models off the web. He had to lay off his single employee of 33 years, which was extremely painful, and he now survived on “a series of $20 purchases during the day.”

I told my wife later that I didn’t expect to see him there much longer. He inherited the business a long time ago, and he had the usual seasonal highs and lows, but he never did anything in terms of special marketing or promotion. Technically, he could answer any questions and fix almost anything, but he never really promoted the place, relying only on the sign on the door.

If you tell yourself your business is dying, it is. If you tell yourself the web is stealing your business, it is. If you believe that others are smarter than you in modern times and technology, they are.

Of course, you can always embrace change, start selling online, realize your customers have children and grandchildren who are new customers, and understand there is a significant part of the population not merely immersed in video games. You could host events and invest in promotion, not just try to reduce expenses. (A large window that broke exhibiting models was never replaced and simply boarded over in his store.)

You can run contests and provide pro bono help to charities and feature your customers’ work.

Or you can bemoan your fate.

Resilience isn’t something you purchase, it’s who you are or aren’t.

© Alan Weiss 2015

3 thoughts on “Resiliance

  1. It’s really a choice between throwing up your hands and saying “My way of doing business is done” and “I’m looking forward to changing my way of business and continuing to thrive.”

  2. Alan – Great insights as usual. Did you have any urge to share your top-of-mind suggestions with this owner or did you assess that he just wanted to wallow in his sorrow?

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