Retail education: 2010 a year of learning old-time values

Home Columns Retail education: 2010 a year of learning old-time values

by Kelly Kramer

At this same time last year, I was talking about just how those of you reading this column were still in business because you run an operation that is based on good ethics and great service. You understood that longevity meant sales tactics and mass advertising was a short-term, quick-fix practice. Perhaps the greatest result of those traits allowed you to see many of your poorly-run, deceptive competitor’s fall by the wayside.

So again, congratulations for sticking to a philosophy of selling on the up and up. With that said, last year at this time I was also talking about a fast and furious rebound by the end of 2010. I have to admit, boy was I wrong. This economic down spell now seems like the Energizer Bunny. Sales have leveled out, we still have record yet stabilized unemployment, but a rebound boom is now looking to come in a few more years at best.

Political implications

Just the other day I saw an eye-opening interview about the national debt with a nationally known government economist who confirmed my thoughts from about 15 years ago. In short, he explained that the national debt was like a giant, governmental credit card. Like the public, the government is now learning that easy credit means serious consequences when the bill comes. The old-fashioned days of pay-as-you-go ended back in the early ’80s.

I remember this well because at the time I had just finished high school and my mom had to fight with her bank to get me approved for a credit card. Back then Mom taught me the value of using credit to my advantage, which meant paying the bill in full every month and building good credit. My daily life and business have been run that way from then on. But a few short years after Mom fought so hard to get me a credit card the national credit industry made it so any kid headed to college got easy credit. That was the start of today’s problems.

What about today?

It took about two full years for those who were set up to ruin themselves to understand the value of saving instead of engaging in wasteful, easy spending. Most only learned because the magical, free, easy-money, credit cards were taken away.

Next, employers learned they could keep up with dwindling sales with far fewer employees. In short, we all learned to tighten our belts. Then our easy one year, no payment programs went away. So, now we have buyers that are “just like the old days.” They buy when they have saved up and have the money: that is our buyer today. The best part is many of the previous, easy credit abusers have learned their lessons and are now righting the ship and fixing that problem. When they finally start to save, we will see that upturn we’ve been so longing for.

Reality

Many decades of easy credit and living beyond our means has come to an end. The American public is learning its lesson. But it looks like the repair is more long-term than any had hoped for. So for now, keep that belt tight, understand where we are, and remember that old-fashioned values will eventually lead to better and healthier times. At this year’s end I feel very blessed with important things like my family, friends and you as a reader.

Thanks for reading.

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