Small Biz Secrets To Survival Against Megastores

A blown transformer put some downtown Nacogdoches shoppers in the dark. No one seemed to mind. Instead it was a unique shopping experience that no mega store could pull off. Through it all Heart of Texas owner Gerry Larabee didn't miss a beat. The tones of the cash register kept up with the business.

Larabee's store maintains a steady pace all year long, but she is entering the most crucial time of year for business sales.   "The 4th quarter is definitely the one that makes your profit for the year," says the business owner. Try up to 95% of the year's sales. Profits are important, but with specialty shops huge blockbuster advertising isn't necessary.   "No, we go at it from a different aspect. We go for customer service. The small town appeal that people like to be spoken to for the majority and I think that brings in a lot of people and the charm of downtown," said Larabee.

But sometimes to survive you have to get tough and shoot toward diversification.   "Several of the businesses that have been down here for a long time have good data bases so they can contact customers when they've got something special coming up. Some of us have got websites," shared Larabee.

On the web or in the store it's important to have unique inventory and the ability to appeal to all ages. Larabee rings up a sale for a young girl. "This t-shirt for you? Sure is cute," said Larabee politely.

Specialty store advisors always come back to personal service as the biggest advantage for the small retailer. They emphasize no matter the amount of the sale, or the size of the shopper, courtesy will bring repeat customers.