Prefer to listen? Here you go! And be sure to subscribe and leave a review on Apple here.
You’re going to be blown away by the experience and knowledge shared by Amy Loewnberg in this conversation!
Community—it’s the power of connections that drives us and pushes us through the ebbs and flows of the economy. How do you create a community? Go where your people are! Embrace the channels that give you reach. Yes, that means social media!!!
Amy actually shares examples from her personal Instagram on how you can get connected, meet new people like potential merchants, learn new ideas, and get in front of the people who want to buy from you.
In addition to her wise words for community, we also talk all things market, and she has some really great tips for retailers heading to trade shows:
- Study the market – The better you know the show, the better you can utilize it.
- New buyer orientation – Sign up even if it’s not your first time at a market!
- Know your product needs – Bring a shopping list and really know your budget.
- Ask before you photograph – We’re always so quick to snap a pic but get permission first.
- Bring a business card with a QR code – Don’t let people forget you; make it easy to find you.
- Take well organized notes – Who did you talk to? What do you want to buy? KEEP TRACK!
- Be patient and courteous – Vendors might be operating a 1 person booth, and it might get busy.
- Have fun and enjoy the experiences – With so much available, take part in everything you can.
- ALWAYS post and tag – Remember!? It’s back to community creation on social media!
There has also been quite a disruption in the trade show space: hybrid markets. Amy shares about the wonderful and necessary opportunity it is for online marketplaces. You want to make it as easy for the customer as possible, and digital spaces will never replace in person interactions, just enhance them!
She has seen the ins and outs of retail, and you will just love her creative eye and heart for incredible retailers and their products. Be sure to check out ALL of the retailers Amy mentioned today at their links. And for more inspiration and all around retail wisdom, give Amy a follow on Instagram.
I am rooting for your success!
- How to create a community as an independent retailer.
- What you need to know before attending a trade show!
- The important place for hybrid markets.
- Retailer examples and resources galore.
Mentioned in the Episode
- Gift for Life – Donate
- Amy @amy.atnynow on Instagram
- Amy Loewenberg on LinkedIn
- NY NOW®
- Bulletin – Wholesale
- Gift for Life
- Housing Works
- Cursive New York
- Best Gift Store Ever
- Quick Brown Fox
- Dover Street Market New York
- Love Adorned
- KT Collection
- Runaway Poppy
- Layer Up Ceramics
- The Twentieth Decorative Arts
- Earth & Me
- Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store
- Mel Robbins
- The Lean Startup
- Gifts & Decorative Accessories
- Home Accents Today
- Hospitality Design
- Retail Dive
- Business of Home
- Architectural Digest
- Stationery Trends
- Red Boot Consulting
- The Retail Whore Podcast
- The Paper Fold Podcast
- Buyer Spotlights – Amy Loewenberg
- Podcasts – RETHINK Retail
- NPR Podcasts & Shows
- Mel Robbins – Reinvent Your Life
- Crystal Media
- Crystal on Instagram
- Crystal Media on Instagram
- Crystal Media Co – YouTube
I loved my conversation with Amy Loewenberg of Emerald X. You’re going to get a ton of resources in this episode. Amy gave us so many examples of retailers who are doing some really cool things, who are creating communities that are meaningful, really connecting through their social media retailers who are creating incredible experiences.
She also has a lot of resources that she uses to stay up to date with the ever-changing industry of retail that she shares on this episode. So if you are driving, walking, or running and you don’t have paper and pen, you might want to come back to this episode. But also know that in the show notes, we’re going to list all these resources for you too.
It’s going to be a Mecca show notes page with such gold that Amy gave us today. So be ready to be inspired and to just get some really practical ideas on how you can create communities and experiences. I also love how we talked about a hybrid approach to business of in-person and online. We talk about it from both the wholesale perspective, where retailers are buying online through these online marketplaces, but also buying at trade shows.
And then we talked about it from a retail perspective, too, of retailers selling through e-comm. It was a great conversation, and I love what Amy said about her thoughts on the future of retail, independent retail, which we talk about at the end of this episode. So listen all the way through because there’s so much gold. There are so many resources. You’re going to feel really inspired by Amy, and then I can’t agree enough with her the way that she answered the question. And I think it’s really meaningful that we pay attention and adapt. And I would be really curious to hear your feedback on this episode. So leave a review, DM me, and tell me what you thought of this episode. It’s such a good one. Before we dive in, let me introduce you a little bit more to Amy.
Amy considers herself to be a champion of people, product and for facilitating mutually beneficial and treasured relationships, the true essence of her position of senior relations manager at Emerald X. Her passion for product started when she was a buyer for Kate’s Paperie, the iconic NYC paper emporium and developed further in her purchasing role at Blue Tulip and when she fostered the first purchasing program for housing works, whether greeting cards and invitations, housewares, tabletops, or textiles, she was enamored with everything from paper to cement and the impact they made on businesses. Amy’s a New York City native but has lived on both coasts and spent time in the Midwest before eventually returning home to continue her path in this terrific industry. All right, let’s dive into this episode. Welcome to Rooted in Retail, the show that’s dedicated to helping independent retailers thrive in today’s ever-evolving retail landscape.
I’m your host, Crystal Vilkaitis, and I’m thrilled to have you join me weekly as we explore topics that are vital to the success of your store. From marketing to mindset, money to merchandising, sales to leadership, we’ll cover it all. Each episode features interviews with industry experts and accomplished retailers who share their real-life insights and actionable advice.
Get ready for a great conversation on how to build your dream business with Rooted in Retail. Amy, welcome to Rooted in Retail. I’m so glad you’re here. Oh my gosh. Thank you for the invitation. It is just a pleasure to be here with you. Yeah, this is going to be a great conversation. So let’s start from the beginning because you are deeply Rooted in Retail, and I want to know how you got started in the retail industry and take us through the evolution of your career in retail.
Okay. That is a loaded question with a lot of steps. But basically, I could tell you that I grew up in retail, and the major essence of my career started when I lived in San Francisco. I was there for a good ten years, and I just dove in. I was always in some sort of management position, so I was dealing with managing people and stores, and I was merchandising, and I found that I just got a lot of personal validation from it. I felt really good. I just felt like I was in my environment. I met great people, gained great mentors, and just really began to develop myself there for a good period of time.
I eventually jumped over to the Midwest, where I moved into interior design and I learned a different skillset there, gaining a very small foundation in design. But I got into purchasing on a small scale, which I absolutely loved. From there, I got my footing in a larger purchasing position again, which I loved.
But I’ll be really honest with you; I did a very poor job. I did not do very well. But I learned a lot of valuable lessons, and I keep them with me to this day. And then eventually, I found my way back to New York, and that’s when I started jumping into managing stores again and merchandising.
I studied up on my purchasing. I moved into Kate’s Paperie, which a lot of people may know. It was an iconic New York City art and paper store. There, like I said, I was able to get back into purchasing again. I take that back. I was actually doing, I was actually managing stores at that point, and I moved into another company called Blue Tulip, and that’s where I was able to jump into my purchasing.
I did a significantly better job; I’d like to say. I was one of their paper buyers, where I focused on greeting cards and stationery, and small seasonal gifts. Just a really wonderful company with great people. And unfortunately, in 2010, they experienced a little bit of an economy tank, and so we ended up closing all of our locations.
And that brought me back to Kate’s. But now I was a merchant, and I did some category development for them. And again, I was a paper buyer with a nice focus on greeting cards, which, if you’re not picking up, is one of my loves. Let’s see. I also worked with the nonprofit Housing Works, where I developed their first-ever purchasing program.
And then that basically brought me here to Emerald. And I came here with the experiences, as I like to say, on both sides of the aisles. I run retail locations. I’ve managed and merchandised them. I’ve purchased product. I actually had a very small stint where I worked with a British paper company on product development and introduced them to the US.
We actually sold at that market. So I really know how most people utilize a trade show, and now I’m the senior relations manager for New York Now. I’ve been here just under five years, and I can truly say that I understand even more about trade shows and markets and our incredible community of brands and buyers and industry talents that utilize them.
I do a lot, but I focus on our important buyer programs, and our association relationships. I help with program development, ultimately, the buyer experience, and I do a lot of relations marketing. I’m a voice for the market, and I love it. Oh, I love it. Okay. Yeah, you’ve got a lot of retail experience, and thank you for taking us through that in just a few minutes.
I’m sure it could take a lot longer. There are probably so many stories within all of those things that you’ve done. But you mentioned a housing project. Will you take us through what that is? Because I’m sure some people listening don’t know what that is, and it’s so incredible. Sure. It’s actually Housing Works, and it is housing a nonprofit organization that has a dual focus of helping with homelessness and then research for HIV and Aids.
And so the company has been around, the organization has been around for a long time, but they have this; the entrepreneurial aspect of it is what fuels their charitable drive to be able to do the work that they do. And so we have, or they have several thrift store locations and, I don’t know about you, but being in retail, I am just covered in product, and I’m a shopper galore, and I do like to change things out, so, I’m constantly donating my goods.
And so that’s really the way these thrift stores exist through the kindness of strangers. And we’re just donating our goods, from our clothes to our homewares, housewares, and furnishings. And there’s a certain period of time where donations became a little slimmer. Our economy ebbs and flows, and people hold onto their products and goods a little bit longer, their possessions.
And so, what we did was we fueled their thrift stores, and I created this purchasing program for them, and we just really focused on off-priced goods. We utilized the relationships I had with all of the brands and the people who I had known and who’d purchased from in the past, and I’d basically clean out their dated goods and was able to sell them clearly at a thrift store price point, but to make a really sharp margin on it.
So I may not have been a good buyer when I first started doing it, but I definitely got the skillset. And so we were able to really produce a lot for them. So, it’s an incredible organization, and I still work remotely aside them today. And this was some of our Gift For Life work that we do.
Yeah. Thank you for sharing because I’m new to the organization as well and was doing some research, and I was like, this is just so incredible that there are resources like that, and very cool your involvement. And, of course, we learn things as we go. I love that, the honesty of where you started and where you are now, but what a fun role and building that community and being a part of that community. And speaking of community, when we first connected, we were on a Zoom call, and you said, “I’m a fan of product and a champion of people,” and I wrote that down. I loved that you said that, and you were talking about your love for community-building.
So I’m curious, what opportunities do you see for independent retailers to build their own communities and really strengthen their relationships with their current customers or new customers? Yeah. It’s a great question, and I think it expands outside of independent retailers. I think we can use this as a life lesson, but let’s talk about the community that we love, and let’s talk about how we can create and build our businesses and create those relationships that are going to help sustain us through all the ebbs and flows of our world.
It’s connection. It is purely connection. It’s the power of connection. We’re all moving in this hybrid world where we need to embrace the channels that further our reach and introduce us to people who we would never have met. I don’t consider myself to be an expert in social media by any means, but I do my thing.
My focus is to bring retailers to market and to help connect them with the brands they need to see. So, I do work through my own Instagram. It’s @amy.atnynow. And I’m not just sharing stories of my store visits, but I’m connecting with people, and I’m building those relationships as well as introducing you to those people.
And if you read my stories, you’re going to meet a store owner. Do you think your product is going to work in their store? I’ve just given you a tour. Are you a retailer, and you want to come to market? Have I met you in your store? Can I introduce you to brands who you need to meet and see or talk about your store on my Instagram?
That’s just a win-win-win for me. So, I think there are a lot of people out there doing a really great job, but what I see as the common factor for building community is that the owners are on social media, and they’re letting their personality shine through. I can talk about this forever, but there’s a desire to know more about the power of our purchases.
This is a really good thing. Who are we helping? How green is the product? Who made it, the impact that it can make? Or the impact that I can make with this purchase. So jump onto Instagram and tell a story about your new product and tag. Hopefully, you met the brand in New York Now. Tag us. I’m going to see you because that’s what I do. I go in, and I see who tags us. I’m going to meet you. But let us know when we can find this product on your table and your front fixture, and just make it personal. Tell us about how you came to create your store or that you’re redoing your front windows.
Ask for help with a problem. You may get support in discovering a new resource. God, there are so many great people. I love seeing Michael and Douglas from Cursive New York. They do this weekly trip to the Flower District, and I know that I’m always going to see that bouquet and their store, either online or if I’m physically there.
They have this really fun storefront sign, so I’m always looking at their Instagram. Just to see what kind of funny thing they have. But I know them. I do call them friends, but I get to know them even more through the stories that they share. So share your mission and the programs you have that lift people up.
I’m definitely going to mention one other person, Tara Riceberg. She’s the owner of Tesoro in Beverly Hills. She’s literally an ambassador for all the lines that she carries, and she does these incredible product videos, either she’s at market or she’s in our store. Sometimes I think she’s in her kitchen.
I don’t know if you can hear the New York siren in the background. I love it. Welcome to the Upper West Side. She literally shows how the product is used, who needs it, her incredible wrapping, and on top of it all, she shows her gratitude. Her true Tara essence – I love her if you can’t tell – is in abundance.
You should definitely follow her @bestgiftstoreever. And then I’ll just make one last call out to Kate Murray of Quick Brown Fox. She makes it real. If you’re in her world of letterpress, when you’re on her Instagram, you will never leave. So if you’re not a paper person, you will be.
And she is selling her goods at the smaller markets to the New York Now market. She has a direct-to-consumer as well, but it’s getting to know who you are. People want to know who you are in this world. We’ll talk about it later because I saw your questions. But in this world of this hybrid and all the technology coming our way, it is still always going to be about the human connection.
And so that, in a very large nutshell, is what I would say is the best thing that anybody can do to build their community. Don’t rely solely on technology or a good email blast. Make it personal, and let us know who you are through those technology channels. Such good advice, Amy, and so needed.
I know a lot of retailers have fear about being personal and putting themselves on camera, being in the pictures and in the videos. And that’s something we work hard at Crystal Media to help them find that courage and do it afraid like my grandma says, because it is what people connect to.
And that is so where independence can shine is they’ve got their people. They have their stories, they’re a part of the community, and they need to show up and connect through social in that way. It’s how they stay competitive. It’s how they stay relevant. I just can’t agree with you more. And I love that you gave us some examples of people that go check out who is doing it well because we always love seeing what people are doing to get inspired by them and find some of that courage to put ourselves out there too.
So thank you for sharing those. Oh, thank you for sharing what your grandmother said. I love that. I absolutely love it. What is it? Do it afraid? Do it scared? What is it? Do it afraid. Do it afraid. Exactly. That’s what we’re doing. Now, as we know, you are in New York City. I love hearing the sirens. I love New York City.
It is my favorite city. And as part of your job and passion and just probably hobby as well, you visit these stores like you mentioned. So you have probably been to so many stores, and I’m sure all across the country, but I’m curious if you can share a couple of memorable experiences that stood out to you. What stores and what made them so memorable?
Sure. Well, you are correct. I go to stores all over the country, no matter where I am. There is a Main Street. And I also like the off-the-beaten-path stores as well. I mentioned a few, but it’s really about the energy inside that makes it a great experience for me.
I think that I am a target customer for many people. I fit that demographic, and frankly, I just like to buy. So if you see me in your store, you really should just understand that I’m going to buy something. So concept stories are great or a major activity or experience.
And we’ve got stores like that. One that comes to mind here in the city, they actually have multiple locations all over the United States, is Camp, and that combines play and media and merchandise, and that’s just really a fun family adventure. So if you are with children and you’re in the city, you should definitely check out Camp.
And then, on another food and fashion level, you might want to hit up the Dover Street market. There’s plenty there to keep you busy. And just the experience of being there is really super stimulating. You’re going to want to take a lot of pictures; you’re going to want to do a lot of posts.
I like jumping into the Strand bookstore. They’ve got a couple of locations. There’s always something going on at some point during their week. Oh yeah. I love this one store; it’s called Love Adorned. And that is on Elizabeth Street, and the owner, Lori, her ability to merchandise is literally just out of this world.
She has another location in Amagansett, and I’ve got to tell you, there are times that I literally make the trip just to go walk through her store because it just feels so good. She’s got this vast range of products from vintage all the way to heavy jewelry. You can get yourself pierced while you’re there in a myriad of places.
It just has this incredible vibe. So, the experience of watching somebody get their nose pierced was fun for me. Thinking about it. I don’t know if I’ll do it. And then there are a couple of other stores that I really like, but one I was just in recently, it comes to mind, is KT Collections, that’s on Columbus Avenue.
And the owner, Katie, if you couldn’t tell, “KT.” Katie. Cute. She’s always doing something fun in there. I think I had a sip of champagne with her not too long ago. And then her cousin Kara has this great shop right on Amsterdam Avenue just a few blocks away, and she’s got literally the most amazing wall art I’ve seen. Her shop is tiny, but it’s mighty.
And I just did a store visit on her on my Instagram so you can see her. But honestly, I could probably just go on forever there. Stores are my passion. We can talk about experiences and activations because we talk about that on a market level. We understand that, and I do understand something that incentivizes somebody to make a trip downtown for a very cool experience.
But I will say for independent retailers who are listening; the best experience is the human experience. And when people come in to make them feel welcome and to really pick up on their vibe and see the way they want to talk and shop, this is an opportunity for you to say what’s special about your store.
And that is the experience for me. I want to learn your story, and I want to know why I need your product. Yes. Oh, such good examples. We’re going to link to all this, too, so if anybody is listening and you’re like, “Okay, wait, what store? What did she say? I need to check all of these out,” go to the show notes page at rootedinretail.com and we’ll link to everybody.
I can’t wait to go stock them. I had this vision, Amy, of doing a fun retreat-like shopping excursion with retailers to just go and visit these places and be inspired. That would be so incredible. Before you go on, that is absolutely something to do.
I have a good friend, Robin Kramer, who does retail store tours. And frankly, I think the more people we have doing it, the better. So yes, definitely. Definitely. I’ll help you. We’re going to have to plan something. That would be a lot of fun. Anyone who’s listening, if you’d be interested in something like that, DM me, shoot me an email, let me know, and we can align something for that, line something up because that would be awesome. That’d be so cool.
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I hope they can help you like they did me. You mentioned with the experience with trade shows now, a lot of our listeners are shopping at trade shows, they are going, we have a lot of gift in home and pet and jewelers, and so they’re all, there are all sorts of different places that they’re buying.
What kind of pro tips do you have for retailers that are shopping at the trade shows? I got a lot of pro tips, but I think I’ll list my top 20. Stop me if I’m going too long. Okay. The first thing you need to do is study the market before you attend. I know how busy we all are, but the better you know it, the better you’re going to be able to utilize it. So jump on the website. There is always going to be an exhibitor listing. I will tell you about ours in New York Now. We’ve got defining brand values, so you can literally help to discover the brands you need to meet while you’re there.
Asian American and Pacific Islander-owned, female-owned. Female-founded is actually the way we say it. Ethically produced, black-owned, gives back, sustainable. All these values are really important for you to share, and they’re important for your product presentations. So they’re going to help you portray your brand, so narrow the field so that you can see them first when you get there.
And obviously, learn the floor layout. And there’s always going to be a map online. So learn the layout. Many times there are new buyer orientations that you can join. There is either a webinar that might be produced prior to market or right there on site, so sign up for them. It may not be the first time you’ve been to market, but suppose this is the first time you’ve come to New York Now, and you want to understand the way our market works.
Sign up for it. I’ve run them. They are fun. You meet a lot of people with common goals and values, so there’s networking being done. You find support buddies that you’re making for the first time. But we also give you a rundown of what you need to know and how to shop the market, and we’ll even introduce you to a few brands.
You should know what your product needs are before you arrive, so have your shopping list. There may be brands that you need to place reorders with or just products that you need to locate. Sometimes these can be really overstimulating, and you never know how you’re going to respond to that. So make sure that you’ve got your marching orders when you walk in, just for help. But you should really be able to tell a vendor about your store, your logistical needs, your shipping dates, invoicing, and dating terms. Know your budget. That’s a big deal. Know your budget. And as for etiquette, definitely ask before you take a picture. I know that we’re all versed in playing with our cameras, and it’s going to happen, but just out of common courtesy, you should ask before you take a picture. And if there’s one person in the booth, you should understand that they may need to juggle customers. So be aware of your surroundings. This is the way they’re growing their business as well. Definitely provide them with a business card or have a QR code with your contact information and make sure that you get theirs.
Keep your notes organized. You definitely don’t want to forget what brand you came in contact with or how to reach them. A lot of times you might figure that you’re placing your orders in a few weeks or in a few months. You may just want to research somebody you saw because now you know, a year later, you want to work with them.
I can go on forever, but just really enjoy the market. There are experiences and activations to participate in, like we were talking about before. And very definitely, post and tag. Absolutely post and tag. Your brands are going to be incredibly appreciative that you’ve tagged them, that maybe you’re highlighting a product that’s going to come to your store. By the way, I scan, as I said before, all tags for New York Now. This is the way that I might get to meet you as well. I might reach out and do a store visit. It’s just one of the ways that I’m networking.
So, New York Now and Bulletin, we would love it if you tag all your brands and us while you’re at market as I can speak for any other market listening to this. Any other market center is going to want the same. Totally. These are such good tips. It reminds me of a quote by Dale Carnegie that says “An hour of planning can save ten hours of doing.” And you’ve got to plan.
When I first got introduced to markets, I was so overwhelmed because I had no idea such a thing existed. And so I was just amazed at that experience and everything that was going on, and I know we have busy retailers. I can imagine you’re trying to do so much leading up to market, but if you can take these tips that Amy just gave you, I feel like you’re going to have a very productive trip.
And I love hearing these tips, too, not being a retailer. It’s very interesting to me to hear this side of the industry as well. So thank you for sharing those. Of course. Now there’s a disruption in the industry of online marketplaces where retailers are shopping from their computers and they’re not necessarily traveling, or maybe they’re doing a hybrid and doing both, but I would be curious what your thoughts are on online marketplaces.
Yeah, absolutely. Honestly, frankly, I’m a fan. I see them as avenues to conducting business, and I don’t think that they’re ever going to replace the human aspect, especially of a trade show. It will change them. Actually, correction. It has changed them. But having a hybrid mentality is crucial in this day.
Think about when trade shows were unable to stage during a pandemic. Businesses became reliant on these marketplaces. So it would also be pretty remiss of me not to highlight that Emerald saw this value that we could provide for our customers. And we strategically acquired and merged Bulletin with the New York Now Market to offer value to our community.
So we are an online marketplace and what makes us different than the rest are some really important features. On the bulletin platform, we’ve got Net 60 terms for qualified retailers. We have dated invoicing so you can receive and sell the product before you’ve ever paid for it. There are curated theme collections that are filled with incredibly strong brands, and just like New York now, they vet them for quality and reliability. There are personalized brand and product recommendations and what I would call a white glove customer service experience. And what I think is really exciting is these impressive order management tools.
Stuff that I think you can actually get behind, Crystal, because I know what you do, but there are shipping guidelines and invoicing systems, and direct messaging features. So really, what this does is it allows the brands to do what they do best: making new products and helping to scale their business, and doing what they love.
And it gives our retailers the ability to fine-tune their assortments and help with inventory planning. And then, for us, like I said before, it’s massive building community and engaging with them. So we are a hybrid shopping experience, and Bulletin is pretty unique because it’s a curated marketplace with a trade show affiliation and that is a disruption.
So I will say we are disrupting the industry, and if you want to pull it away from a trade show and just talk about these online marketplaces, it’s about the experience. And I think you will find that if you have an online marketplace that does not support a hybrid experience, they’re probably going to get a little smaller and smaller.
That’s what I think. I don’t think that we ever want to get away from the human dynamic, but we just want to do our business better and faster. Yeah, totally. And that is such an easier way to do it in having that hybrid approach. And I completely agree with you that I’m also a fan, and it won’t replace the human in-person experience at all.
And it really does come down to the experience of these marketplaces too. And because there’s a lot of competition, and I feel like competition is popping up all the time, and then they’re gone the next day. Obviously, it’s a challenge, and e-comm is a challenge, and retailers experience that because a lot of them are now hybrid, the in-person experience with also selling through their e-commerce websites. And that’s good because you’re helping the customer buy however’s easiest for them. You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to do it. Online is not enough. It’s impersonal, regardless of our engagement abilities. It’s transactional. So we need the combination of the two in one. We need the personal and the digital.
We need it. Totally. Love it. Okay, so before we go into our resilience round, you are a products person. I would be curious about a few products or trends that you are excited for, spring and summer. All right, so I definitely put some thought in here because I consider myself a little out of the box.
And I was really thinking about how I wanted to answer this question. And the first thing I’ll say is, first, I really do enjoy seeing how the fashion trends of last year begin to rain down, and we see these themes and colors and sizes and shapes and patterns and everything represented in products.
So I find that incredibly interesting, but I’m really like a kid in a candy shop. I get excited over the items I haven’t seen before. I like the new materials being used or differently. So for me, it’s not necessarily a specific trend or item or a theme. Mushrooms are sprouting out again all over the place.
I love seeing them, but I also really love seeing small businesses. I just saw one at our American handcrafted market. It was Layer Up Ceramics, which is a translucent, 3D-printed porcelain brand with incredibly unique lighting. I’d never seen that before and that’s what gets me, or there’s this incredibly cool card company that I met at New York Now. They’re called The 20th. They’ve got this vintage, nostalgic flare but with this extremely current-day vibe. These cards are just super cool. I don’t know how else to say it. And Emma, the owner, is even cooler. And then I like to see the awareness of this more conscious commerce being amplified like I said before.
The power of our purchasing is where there are so many great concepts to be brought into your store that your consumer is seeking, like zero waste. There’s Earth&Me in Astoria, that’s a zero-waste company. Have you been to a zero-waste company? You should check out Earth&Me. Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Brooklyn, she’s got a refill station in the back. So it’s this diverse selection of brands and designers. That is what excites me. I don’t know if I really answered your question. Oh, you did. Okay, good. Yeah. It’s so good, and that made me so excited.
I can’t wait to check out some of these companies that you referenced too, but, I feel like, Amy, you have such a creative mind and love for creative, unique, interesting products, and I love it. I would so love to walk market with you. I feel like that would be so fun. Done. Let’s get into our resilience round.
These are six questions to help our retailers be more resilient. It’s a rapid-fire, so here we go. Best business book. All right, so again, I’m a bit out of the box here. I really enjoyed Mel Robbins Reinvent Your Life. I think that when we can create new habits that allow us to look at ourselves from a different perspective, we have the ability to make changes that can just really positively impact our lives.
How we live, how we eat, how we sleep, how we love, how we accept change, understand others, communicate differently. This all helps our own personal development, and that’s how we present ourselves professionally. So that’s what I just listened to. I’m more of a listener than a reader these days.
And I’m about to jump into The Lean Startup, and I’ll keep you posted on that. I don’t know anything about that one yet. Okay. Yes. Keep me posted. Love it. I Love Mel Robbins. Oh my gosh, she’s amazing. Yeah. Best retail technology, like an app or software. Okay, I’m sorry, friend. I’m about to go back to the Bulletin platform because I’m just learning so much about it.
The sophistication and the ease of utilizing this on an everyday basis. I’m just completely looking forward to our New York Now community to have this incredibly robust online experience both in the market and out of the market. This is definitely something to know about. Jump on our website. You’re going to find more and more options, and I am always available to talk about this in a more detailed manner. It is absolutely essential in helping you build your business. So cool. Love it. Okay. How do you keep up with the ever-changing retail landscape? Okay. I do the best I can. I do the best I can.
I take advantage of talking to the buyers and the brands directly, who I have access to. I ask them what’s going on, what they’ve been dealing with, how are they addressing it, what are their challenges. I read articles I come across, and then I listen to a podcast or two, and then the news and other industry people.
So I basically look at the trusted industry media resources like Gifts & Dec, and Home Accents, Hospitality Design. I read articles from Retail Dive to Business of Home and Architectural Digest. And then, for podcasts, I definitely listen to my industry friends. We’ve got Michelle Sherrier, who’s got the Retail Whore Podcast, and she is phenomenal.
We’ve got Sarah Schwartz of The Paper Fold, and she is one of the, if not the original, paper nerd. I used to do a podcast with her. And now you, my sweet friend. I would recommend you as well. I hope to start up my own again and spotlight some of these industry talents. So get ready, woman, because you’re going to be invited. Oh, I’m so ready. I’m so there. Count me in. I can’t wait to listen too. So good. And before I forget, don’t forget, there are some great resources like Rethink Retail, NPR, and LinkedIn is great, so just be a resource mutt like me. Just get it from everywhere. And you gave us so many great resources, so I appreciate that.
Because retail is ever-changing, how do you recharge your batteries? So, my favorite thing to do is to jump in my car and drive to the Hudson Valley. It is beautiful no matter what time of year it is. I’ve made some really great retail friends there.
So in between my own discovery and glasses of Rose, I’ve got a bevy of smiling friends and faces to see. You want to see Andrew over at Hamilton Adams and Sean and JT at Blue Cashy Kitchen there in Kingston. There are just some phenomenal locations there, but I also really love finding new areas to explore.
So anybody listening who has a shop within a hundred miles, I could plan an excursion, so connect with me. Yes. Let Amy know. Oh my gosh, that would be so fun. And then let me know because I want to see all the pictures of the connection. To help retailers be stronger rooted in success, what’s a buying best practice? Best practice, okay. Frankly, I’m just going to say be receptive to everything. No matter what you’re doing, I think that you can stay true to who you are and what you know, and what you love but be accepting that everything is constantly changing around you.
Because we know it will, it’s always going to evolve, and the human dynamic is constantly changing. So, the mindset and practices, and abilities are rapidly evolving. So we can look at our experiences to help pave the way to advancements and these new currents in the atmosphere.
But if you don’t accept them, you will become quieter. Oh, well put. That is powerful and so true. Finally, what do you think the future of independent retail looks like? In my crystal ball. Yeah, that’s a great question. I think we have a lot of choices, and I think life is about choices.
We make hundreds of them a day. I think that we’re going to have the benefit of a lot more choices, meaning new methods, technologies, and opportunities that are presenting themselves to us at a much faster pace. It’s hard to keep up with everything. We have deeper relationships with the people and the process and the power we have to support them in a more conscious way to conduct business that supports that cycle.
So I think what we’re going to see is continued creativity, a new mindset of how we create and run a business. The development of those products and the manner that we sell them like I mentioned before. And I think independent retail will become a faster playing field. So we’ll continue to see advancements like Chat GPT.
These have all come to light and how they change the game. I’m just reading about this now, how it can help, how it mimics a human response, which to me just continues to push away the human interaction. So how do we embrace this and still remain human? So continue to develop the hybrid experience.
That’s what I think our choice should be. And that’s the direction I think retail is definitely moving in. It’s the development of hybrid. That experience. We’re not going to go backward; we’re only going to go forwards. Completely agree. And again, well said. And I really agree with the technology piece of that and evolution and the choices.
It really is changing rapidly, and I’m going to send you something. If anybody’s interested in this listening, DM me and let me know. But in preparation for our conference Evolve, I have a topic around Chat GPT and AI, and I have over 50 retail prompts that are pretty cool prompts for retailers to use. I feel like you’d be interested in seeing that list and playing with some of those.
So I’ll email that when we’re done. Most definitely. And I know that there are benefits here, and I think that’s really what I’m trying to say is that within these changes, there are benefits, and so how do you embrace them but yet still portray your brand and your essence? You don’t have to lose your voice just because we have different ways to communicate it.
And I think that if we can just always remember that, we don’t have to lose our brand values, we just have stronger ways to present them. Yes, so true. Amy, before we sign off, we both are on the Gift for Life board. Yes. And you have done a lot of work with Gift for Life over the years. I am a newbie on the board.
And for those of you that are listening, this is a nonprofit that’s been in the gift-in-home industry for many years, and they’re partnered with World Central Kitchen. So the money that we raise goes to helping people in crisis that need healthy, nutritious food. And they also teach the communities how to make the food.
They don’t just feed them and then leave and get out of there. It’s a really incredible organization. I’m honored to be on it, and I’m excited to work with you on it. And I wanted to say that you could go to crystalmediaco.com/donate and anything helps. Even if it’s a $10 donation, we would be so incredibly thrilled, and I just had to make the plug since we’re both on the Gift for Life Board. We definitely have to make the plug, and I would like to say first of all, I, too, even though I’ve worked with Gift for Life for many years and have worked with New York Now and the AIDS walk, I, too, am new to the Gift for Life board and incredibly honored to be a part of this incredible association.
I’ve worked with these people for many years indirectly, and I’m honored to be a part of it and to be working for such a poignant cause for me personally and for our industry. And I would also like to say that you can get onto the New York Now / Bulletin page, and you can make a donation there.
You can see my own page as well. Please look at my Instagram. I’ve got my direct link to donate there. So whether it’s through Crystal or whether it’s through Amy, it’s all going to the same place, and it’s all vitally important. So let’s be a part of this. Let’s all be a part of this. Yes.
Let’s all be a part of this. And Amy, I know you mentioned it earlier. Instagram, you are @amy.atnynow, right? Yeah. It’s @amy.atnynow. You’ve got to put that dot in there. And we will link to this as well. Yes, please. And check out Amy. Follow Amy. I love her content.
She will post these inspirational quotes; she’s sharing stores, you get to meet new people, and she’s got really great content there, so you’re going to love following her. Oh, and by the way, you can also take a quick peek into the market. If you haven’t been to New York Now before, just scroll back. You will see the market in its entire day, so come be a part of it.
Yeah, be a part of it. And then, if you’re there live this summer or next winter, try to find her, say hi, tag as you’re posting, and get permission for those pictures. Such good tips. Amy, thank you for your time and your knowledge, and everything that you shared with my audience. Oh, such a pleasure.
Get ready. We’re going to turn the tables. I love it. Okay, I’m ready. Thank you, everybody, who’s listening. Remember, I’m rooting for your success. Have a great week ahead. Bye. Thank you so much for being here. It means the world to me. Don’t forget to join the Rise & Shine newsletter, which is social media news you need to know, sent via email every Monday morning. Go to crystalmediaco.com/rise to join, and don’t miss the newest episode of Rooted in Retail, which drops every Sunday morning.