Home improvement for the holidays: the retail analysts who tried to steal Christmas

Well it’s December, and that means the holidays will soon be upon us. There has been a lot of talk recently regarding what retailers can expect in their stockings this year, and for many retail segments it doesn’t look good.

An article that appeared in Fortune magazine last month tided “How Blue will Christmas Be?” (Nov. 11, 2002) talked about how the recent economic climate and the West Coast port shutdown will result in the smallest retail holiday sales increase (2.5 percent) in more than a decade. This comes on the heels of reports earlier this fall that the consumer confidence index hit its lowest level in nearly a decade.

The good news for independent home improvement retailers is that you are somewhat sheltered from these gloomy forecasts for several reasons. First, through the years home improvement retailers have scaled back on traditional holiday-related departments such as toys and sporting goods. And there isn’t as much at stake this time of year as in other retail segments that generate 40 to 50 percent of annual sales during the holiday selling season. Even if you count all of last month, November and December contribute just 15 percent of annual sales in hardware/home improvement stores each year.

Secondly, the home improvement retail sector has been a “bright spot” in the retailing community this year, in part because of consumers’ “urge to nest,” according to the Fortune article. This is consistent with reports from many industry retailers and wholesalers who continue to capitalize on post-9/11 nesting trends and a robust housing market.

Finally, as a privately held business, your store probably hasn’t experienced the fallout that public companies have after a year of corporate scandal on Wall Street. While your personal portfolio may have taken a beating, the value (or the perceived value) of your company hasn’t. Consider what has happened to Home Depot’s stock this year despite reporting healthy sales and double-digit profits.

So as retail analysts and members of the consumer press continue to report that retailing is tanking everywhere, instead of running around yelling that the sky is falling, here are some ideas that might help you give something back this holiday season… and in the process spread some holiday cheer:

* Give Something Back to the Needy–As stewards of your community, donate a portion of your holiday sales to charity. Or give your staff time off to donate their time to the community. Better yet, organize something yourself to benefit those who are less fortunate.
* Give Something Back to Your Employees–They probably aren’t expecting a lot, but a little something in their stocking this month or a holiday dinner party will go a long way to developing employee satisfaction.

* How-To for the Holidays–You offer your how-to expertise to customers the other 11 months of the year, so why not offer a how-to clinic or two with a holiday theme, such as demonstrating turkey flyers (if you sell them) or offering tips on home decorating for the holidays.

* Provide Unique (and Affordable) Gift Ideas–The Fortune article suggested that one reason for the lackluster forecast this year is retailers are “out of touch” with what their customers want, and there is “no real difference between competing stores” anymore. No one knows your customers better than you, so use this to your advantage. Pitch an article to the local newspaper regarding the wonderful gift ideas to be found at the local hardware store. And not just power tools and grills, but your unique niche categories as well. A recent Lowe’s Trendex Study on the subject found 53 percent of those surveyed would like to receive or give a home improvement-related gift this holiday season. Since many retail analysts are predicting that consumers will be looking for discounts this year, be sure to offer plenty of value-priced alternatives to traditional holiday merchandise.

On behalf of all of us here at Do-It-Yourself Retailing, I want to wish you, your family and your employees a happy and safe holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

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Tips On The Perfect Wine Serving

You are at home and feel like serving yourself a glass of wine in a fancy way. Or you go to a restaurant with high expectations, but then are let down with a poor wine service. It seems like wine serving does count a lot. It is even more important if you work in a restaurant.  A few steps to be taken to run a proper wine service are as follows.


1/Help guests choose a wine

wine serve
There are plenty of types of wine. As a staff, learn about wine. Vast knowledge about wine will enable you to help your guests. Try to select the wine that suits your guests the most. It is not necessarily the most expensive, but it needs to match your guests’ taste. There are a few things you should remember:

  • Learn about the reason they come to the restaurant: It is whether they go on a date, or they have a family reunion. If your guests are the newcomers, explain to them a list of wines available. They might even know nothing about wine.
  • Provide basic information about wine: If your guests know pretty much about wine, then it is fine to talk freely. But with the guests that have no clue, be patient to give them knowledge 101 about wine.
  • Ask for the guests’ past choices of wine: It is useful to know what types of wine they like and do not like. Such knowledge will make the whole process of choosing wine a lot easier. For instance, your guests do not like red wine. So red wines are passed. You may also have to shortlist some other wines to give to your guests.


2/ Pour wine

wine serve
Now it is time to pay attention to wine service. Start with using a napkin to hold the bottle of wine. It may sometimes be useless. However, it still shows that you care deeply for a good quality of the wine. First of all, you should pour only half an inch and give it to one of your guests for a try. If he/she says it is okay, pour him/her half the glass and also to other guests.


An important thing to remember is that each type of wine has its way of pouring. For example, 3-4.oz has its good pour of 2-3 inches. Because you want your wine only to improve the guests’ appetite. It should not instead overpower the food.

A sound piece of advice is to make sure the wine flow is not stuck. It will make the guests feel annoyed and impatient.


3/ Present the wine

wine serve
– As a wine server, you should know about decanting. Decanting is when you pour wine into a decanter so that it will make the wine more delicious. 3 items you need to use:

  • A decanter
  • A corkscrew
  • Light

Some people wonder what light is used for. In fact, it helps you to detect the sediment in the wine. You really do not want it to be in your guests’ wine when you pour it out. Be meticulous in pouring. When you spot the sediment, throw it away and start serving wine.


– Wine for the whole table

  • You should serve wine directly. First, show it to the guest who chose the wine in the first place. You need to make sure that it is the right wine. Also, check whether all the guests are provided with glasses. One glass in short may show that you are a careless server, so be certain that it will not happen.
  • Use corkscrew to open the wine
  • Give the wine to women first. Start with the elderly and finish with the young


– A glass of wine for dinner

Some guests only prefer one glass for a try. You still should show them the whole bottle as a way of showing your tact and professionalism.

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Speaking of growth: high-performance retailers share their passion for success

This month’s cover story focuses on one of the most critical decisions you’ll ever have to make as a home improvement retailer–deciding when it’s time to take aggressive measures to grow the physical size of your business.

While successful home improvement retailers are always looking for ways to drive more sales through their existing locations, either by increasing sales in traditional core departments or with new niche offerings, this story takes a look at several retailers who have accomplished growth by moving to a larger location or adding an additional location.

Besides growing square footage, what we’re really talking about are high-performance retailers who have found a formula for success that has allowed them to continue fueling growth. The actual growth of their businesses is just a by-product of their success. These are the home-improvement retailers who aren’t satisfied with the stares quo, and quite frankly, our industry needs more retailers like the ones we’re highlighting this month.

Industry analysts believe that there could be billions of dollars being left on the table as a result of under-performing stores in our industry. And it’s not just a question of moving the needle from average performance to high-profit performance with our existing stores. While that is a big part of it, there are plenty of markets sitting empty that could benefit from a high performance independent home improvement retailer.

This untapped potential becomes more clear when considering what some of the retailers featured in this month’s cover story have accomplished. Many of these retailers have driven substantial double digit sales growth just by purchasing an existing under-performing hardware business and applying their new fervor for growth and retailing savvy. Many times under new management, these stores have experienced double-digit growth with the same employees and the same basic product lines that they previously had. The main difference is the passion for growth the new owners brought to the business.

If you have recently thought about taking measures to build a bigger store, move to a bigger location or even add another store to your operation, you will want to read what these retailers have to say. Each anecdotal account is unique. Perhaps the reason for growing the business came as a result of an existing hardware or home center com ing up for sale in a market that made sense. Perhaps it was to take advantage of a new sales opportunity. There is even an account of growing square footage as a competitive response to the big boxes coming to town.

While each story, is different, there are plenty, of common threads, such as the realization that the existing store’s performance benchmarks, such as sales per square foot, were starting to flatten out after a period of sustained growth. In addition, several of the retailers noted that one of the reasons for the move was there wasn’t adequate space to dedicate to lucrative new niche categories, such as outdoor living and rental.

In the end, only you know when it is time to take the next step to grow your business. Only you have a finger on the pulse of the opportunities that present themselves in your specific trading area and surrounding market. Perhaps most importantly, only you know if you have it in you to take on this type of aggressive growth.

I think we’re just starting to see the escalation of a phenomenon similar to what has happened to the warehouse home centers in our market over the past two decades. Average independents are being replaced by the best-in-class independents that have a proven formula for growth and drive to succeed.

Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menards have each grown and prospered at the expense of the Builder’s Squares, HQs and the Grossman’s that once dotted the retail landscape in our industry, just to mention a few big boxes that are now extinct. It’s very Darwinian in nature. And as the big boxes continue to develop formats to operate stores in smaller markets throughout the country with the metro markets becoming more saturated, this call to action for independents to find ways of growing their business will only continue to escalate.

In the end, it will take two things on your part to make this type of growth a reality–developing a formula for success to continue growing your business and the drive and stamina it takes to succeed. At Do-It-Yourself Retailing, we have dedicated ourselves to helping you develop this formula for success. The rest, however, is up to you.

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The useful tips to store the opened wine

Have you ever enjoyed the cup of wine? How much wine can you drink for once? If you can answer these questions that you drink wine every day and especially during the meal and you just drink a small cup of wine for very times. I think you like this wine so much.

Besides, I can guess that you must know how to store the opened wine properly. You opened a bottle of the wine, and it will be very easily damaged when it has been exposed to the air. However, how to preserve and how long to store the opened wine which you still ensure its taste this is not simple, and not everyone knows.


In this writing, I will share some useful tips to store the opened wine which you should keep in your mind.

1. Replacing the cork

  •  You should know that replacing the cork correctly is very important. This is a first rule to store the opened wine which you must remember.
  •  It is better to choose the suitable cork with the bottle of opened wine and change a new cork. With a clean cork will not affect the quality of wine as well as the taste of wine although you opened it.

2. Pouring wine into the smaller bottle

  •  You make sure that with a large wine bottle will be used in a party at that time you do not need to store for using next time. However, in some cases, you can not drink all you should use a sealed funnel to pour wine into a smaller bottle.
  •  By this way, you will make your wine reduce the amount of oxygen in contact with the wine a lot because it only remains a small amount of air between the surface of the wine and the cork. Then you close the cork carefully and place it in the refrigerator.

3. Keeping the opened wine in the fridge

  • Some people asked that how to preserve the remaining wine at the bars. We know most of the bars always have the leftover wine and re-cork them tightly before they place in the fridge.
  • It is the same with food. In the refrigerator, the chemical reactions will occur more slowly with lower temperature and the oxidation also happens more slowly. Moreover, the lower temperature will reduce the activity of acetic bacteria significantly.

4. Storing the opened wine in the closet

Fridge is also equipment to store your remaining wine however you just keep the wine about 3 to 5 days. Actually, you can use for longer if you know how to keep wine in some good ways as follows:

  • Avoid the place where there are a lot of light and heat;
  • Put the opened wine in the closet and try not to open this closet many times or open for a long time.
  • Limit the leftover wine in contact with air.

On the other hand, you must make sure the temperature in the closet must be enough cool. This factor is extremely important so you can use some devices to decrease the heat in it.

5. Vacuuming

  • As you know, we still use the vacuum machine to preserve the leftover food, fresh meat, vegetable…. Now, you can apply this method to store the opened wine. Vacuuming is also a way to prevent the wine exposure to oxygen having in the air.
  • You should not be worried that it is very difficult to make with a bottle. The vacuum machines are designed specially to set the rubber buttons into the neck of the bottle. Then you can use a simple pump to suck the air out.
  • In fact, if you want to compare between pouring wine into the smaller bottle and vacuuming. What way is better? Many people who check the taste of wine after storing by these ways answer that it is tasteless, bland. There are two main reasons which you should know to explain this situation.

  • Firstly, when pumping gas out will create the bubbles floating on wine surface and leading to the decomposition of carbon dioxide under the reduced pressure. The change in the ingredient of wine makes wine blander and less interesting.
  • Secondly, the taste of wine is evaporated and lost the flavor of wine.

In conclusion, most of the wine should be left until the following day. You should choose a suitable bottle to use in your family or your needs. All useful tips which I just mention above are the best ways to store the opened wine which you must know if you want to prevent your wine to be broken. I hope now you have more necessary knowledge for storing opened wine properly.

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