Have you ever looked around your retail store and thought, “wow, I could really use some advice on how to make this better?”  That’s exactly what one retail store owner and Master Shopkeepers member did early last year. Luckily for Patty, a pseudonymed gift shop owner from the Portland, OR area, I was giving away an in-store intensive. 

Through a mix of Zoom calls and a day-long visit to her store, Patty and I were able to update three key areas of her growing business. Our work together not only streamlined Patty’s inventory system, but also gave her a healthy confidence boost about her buying decisions. She also hit a significant annual revenue goal as a result of our in-store intensive! 

Keep reading to learn more about Patty’s in-store intensive experience, the exact pieces we worked on, and how you can book your own. 

In-Store Intensive

What is an In-Store Intensive?  

An In-Store Intensive is a hands-on coaching program where I provide personalized guidance, real-time feedback, and practical strategies to enhance an indie retail store. 

To prepare for the in-store visit, I hold a series of Zoom calls with the store owner. We identify their goals for their store, come up with solutions, and then implement them both before and during my time at their store.

The winner of last year’s giveaway was a store owner in the Portland, OR area who we’ll call “Patty.” Patty and I worked to revamp her gift-focused store from April to August of 2023. 

I chose to give the in-store intensive to Patty because I wanted to help her succeed with systems that would support her in Q4. The last few months of each year are her busiest season…and when she struggles the most with a large volume of inventory for the holidays.

Three Goals for Patty’s In-Store Intensive

Patty and I chatted about what was and wasn’t working at her indie gift shop. The more we discussed, the clearer it became that updating Patty’s systems around her inventory buying strategy, receiving process, and storage would be incredibly helpful.

Goal #1: Inventory Intake System and Storage

Patty was overwhelmed by her three storage rooms. To lessen that overwhelm before Q4, we decided to create a comprehensive system for each store room that all team members could follow. We also wanted to help Patty delegate more.

Goal #2: Buying System and Strategy

Patty felt like she was spending far too much time analyzing her inventory data before buying. She wanted to cut the time she spent on this part of her business in half. What we unpacked around this goal during our work together was enlightening!

Goal #3: Sales Floor Displays & Categories

Lastly, we decided to analyze and adjust inventory categories in order to make the buying process easier. We also needed to maximize the square footage in Patty’s store for more revenue and growth.

Solutions to Patty’s Three Goals for Her Retail Store

Once we had our goals mapped out, it was time to come up with solutions! 

While I did give Patty some homework to complete before my visit to her store, many of the solutions we implemented were done on the spot during the in-store intensive. 

It was so valuable to be in the store with her, see the space, listen to her talk about her store, see where things were bottlenecking, and celebrate all the progress she had made prior to my visit.

In-Store Intensive

Updating the Inventory Intake System & Storage Procedures

Patty’s building is unique in that she has access to a lot of storage space. That has been valuable to her as her business has grown over the past 10 years. Before our in-store intensive, though, these rooms were unorganized with a mishmash of all sorts of inventory. 

We decided to organize these storage areas as a “stable” inventory room, a “flexible” inventory room, and a “Christmas” room. The stable inventory now goes in the easily accessible back room, the flexible inventory goes in the upstairs storage area, and the basement is dedicated to Christmas inventory. 

Next, we created a new inventory intake system for Patty and laid out actual procedures for her and her employees to follow. And finally, we created layouts for the inventory spaces and detailed action plans for Patty to follow going forward.

Creating a Step-by-Step Buying System

Patty was beating herself up about her decision-making process for buying inventory for her store. But after talking it through, I realized that the buying process is one of Patty’s gifts! We just needed to simplify a few parts of the process.

We were able to delegate the initial data collection—which took a substantial amount of time and was tedious for Patty—to a team member. That way, Patty can focus on the higher-level analysis of the data and make data-informed decisions. We also created a custom spreadsheet to support Patty’s process.

Patty also researched the reporting system in other POS systems, as hers was not fully serving her. She ended up switching to a different system in January 2024. 

In-Store Intensive

Following a Set Floor Plan to Ease Category Frustrations

Lastly, Patty and I laid out a set floor plan for her store based on the categories of inventory she caries. While this won’t work for many stores, it did work for Patty’s situation. With this, Patty and her team now display specific categories together based on that floor plan.

Our In-Store Intensive Led to More Confidence, Less Stress, And Renewed Enthusiasm

Patty was very hard on herself about her “manual” process for buying inventory, but the system she created was exactly what helped her business grow as much as it had over the past five years. Streamlining her system was a way to recognize all her hard work and support Patty going forward. 

After working together, I asked Patty to summarize the results that came out of this experience. Here is what she said (along with a few that I noticed, too!):

  • More confidence
  • Minimized FOMO (the fear of missing out)
  • Started saying “no” to things that wouldn’t work for her store
  • Improved inventory intake and management system
  • Far less Q4 stress
  • Validation as a buyer and business owner
  • Injection of energy and enthusiasm for her work 
  • Deeper understanding of her business metrics
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Hit a BIG annual revenue goal in Q4!

Patty said, “There were a lot of wins, and I know some are still to come! It has been financial, emotional, and physical!”

While the in-store intensive is, of course, about the store owner, I ALSO walked away with some wins that I’d like to share. 

First, completing this in-store intensive and seeing Patty’s results was validating for me. It re-confirmed that this kind of support for indie retail store owners is valuable, needed, and exactly what I’m meant to be doing. This came while I was preparing to offboard from the retail store I previously co-owned with my sister. That confidence boost and validation helped me during an unsure season in my retail journey!

Second, I loved meeting Patty’s adorable family. Patty’s kids had seen me on Zoom and read my name, and they thought my name was pronounced Kathy Cruhz! 

After our in-store intensive, Patty and I got some appetizers and a glass of wine at a local restaurant. Her husband arrived to pick her up with the kids in tow, and as the van door opened, I heard them excitedly say, “It’s Kathy Cruhz! Kathy Cruhz is here!” 

It was so cute and sweet. In my mind, it’s one of the most heartwarming moments during my retail journey. As much as I love the numbers and systems, this business is about people at the end of the day. 

In-Store Intensive

Access the Full In-Store Intensive Case Study and Book Your Own to Help You Work Smarter, Profit More, and Grow!

If you’re a Master Shopkeepers member, you get access to the FULL Case Study where I lay it all out in MUCH MORE detail. The case study is 12 pages and I made it because I know learning from each other’s experiences can be helpful.

You might be wondering, did I give an in-store intensive away this year? Yes, I did! I’m in the middle of another in-store intensive with a Master Shopkeepers member in Missouri. I’ll report back on that later this year or next year.

If you’d like to feel more confident, capable, and enthusiastic about your indie retail store, click here to book your very own in-store intensive. 

Resources

Timestamps

  • [03:59] What is an In-Store Intensive?  
  • [06:09] Three Goals for Patty’s In-Store Intensive
  • [10:16] Solutions to Patty’s Three Goals for Her Retail Store
  • [14:30] Our In-Store Intensive Led to More Confidence, Less Stress, And Renewed Enthusiasm
  • [19:49] Access the Full In-Store Intensive Case Study and Book Your Own to Help You Work Smarter, Profit More, and Grow!

Connect With Kathy

Kathy Cruz is an Independent Retail Coach who helps store owners work smarter, profit more, and grow their brick and mortar businesses. 

Connect with Kathy and learn more here:

Website: www.savvyshopkeeper.com 
Instagram: @savvyshopkeeper
Mastermind Group: Master Shopkeepers

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