Give the gift of time

Profit will come and profit will go in business, however there will only be so much time in our lives to create the memories we share with our families, friends and loved ones. A price can’t simply be put on those moments.

Having been a retailer for a better period of my life, I was witness to and part of the manic hysteria that revolved around retailing during the holiday season for numerous years. I despised every moment of it, like unintentionally taking a bite of your least favorite chocolate from the Black Magic box.

You see the holiday season doesn’t really represent the holiday season to those in retail, in fact it’s the complete opposite. A different energy fills the air – many business owners and managers become Scrooge-Grinches. Self imposed panic sets in because that’s what they think they are supposed to feel. They’ll make sure that feeling is spread to the front line workers. They’ll chant things like “this month will make or break our year” or “no time off, extended hours of work for all”. In quick measure also relaying that “this is retail – if you don’t like it, there’s the door”!

Please, don’t even get me started on Boxing Day sales in Canada, or is it Boxing Week, or is it now Boxing Month? All I know is the “Boxing” effect will eventually go the way of the dinosaur and that, my friends, will be a day of celebration to myself and many others.

Now let’s talk customers. Not the wonderful level-headed souls that generally shop your fine stores. I’m talking about the kind of customers you create with all your holiday hysteria, turning genuinely good people into stressed, angry and anxious Who-villians.

The combination of tired, overworked, stressed retail staff that has had no family time, mixed with a hyper caffeine-fueled, turkey-buzzed client base is a recipe for sour eggnog if there has ever been one.

Is it time for you Mr and Mrs Retailer to start a new holiday tradition? How about helping those employees that help you so much, create some holiday memories.

Do what I started to do about 20 years ago. I made a conscious choice to close all of the stores I operated the day before Christmas and not re-open until at least a couple of days after Christmas.

I gave the gift of time. The gift of time, so my staff could unwind and enjoy a holiday with friends and loved ones. I gave our customers the gift of not having to feel they were going to miss out on “the great deal”.

I can’t tell you enough on how this positively affected all those around me. All I can say is the memories that were created for so many will last a lifetime and none of my stores suffered financially, in fact they excelled. This was something I practiced for over 15 years and occasionally am reminded of the gesture from past employees, even to this day.

There may come a time in your business that giving time will feel right to you. Maybe that time is now?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.