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Have you ever wondered what keeps successful retailers ahead in the financial game? Today, we’re diving headfirst into retail business strategy and finance with Kathy Cruz, the co-founder of Savage Boutique.
From humble beginnings as a DIY blog to a thriving brick-and-mortar store, Kathy’s journey is seriously inspiring. In just 18 months of launching her blog with her sister, they expanded to a profitable retail store. It continues to grow without any debt, all while Kathy works less than 20 hours a week in the store.
Now, Kathy teaches other retailers how to work less, profit more, and grow their businesses through The Savvy Shopkeeper. In this episode, we’re getting into the money side of things—tackling common mistakes, navigating emotions, and making tough decisions.
Kathy reveals why we often make fear-driven, emotional decisions when investing in our businesses and how to shift that mindset. She also shares a fresh outlook on managing recession worries and staying resilient in uncertain times. If you’re ready to level up your retail financial strategies, I know you’re going to love this episode.
[04:06] How Kathy went from homicide detective to blogger and brick and mortar owner
[07:35] The biggest financial mistakes or misconceptions that Kathy’s sees independent retailers make
[11:16] Examples of times when retailers may let their emotions overshadow the facts
[15:59] How can independent retailers harness their numbers to plan out the next quarter or year effectively?
[19:37] What key financial metrics or strategies should retailers prioritize to remain resilient and adapt in an uncertain economic climate?
[23:01] The inventory management system Kathy recommends indie retailers use for their store
[24:38] Kathy’s advice for one easy thing retailers can implement right away to gain more confidence in their financial situation
[30:01] What sparks Kathy’s excitement and anticipation for her businesses in 2024
[31:39] Kathy’s resilience round
Mentioned in the Episode
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Crystal Vilkaitis: I am so excited to welcome Kathy Cruz to the Rooted in Retail podcast today. We are talking about money and finances, something that I absolutely love talking about. Kathy is somebody that I listen to her podcast. I felt like a fangirl having her on my show and I got to meet her in person when we spoke at the Coastal Connections ,Conference in Orlando, Florida.
And we felt like we could have talked forever. We probably could. This episode, I asked her, what are you passionate about? What do you love teaching? And she said finances. I was so glad she said that because I feel like retailers really need help and support when it comes to finances, not just retailers, small businesses in general.
So in this episode, we talk about common mistakes and misconceptions. Kathy has a really great story around the fear, making emotionally fear-based decisions, and how to flip that, and how to make decisions instead as you’re spending and investing in your business and yourself.
We also talk about the current economic climate and perceptions of it. Kathy has a really great reframe and just advice around this topic that I think is so important for us all to take serious and really listen to it. And she’s got some tips to help you too. If you’re feeling that constraint, or that nervousness around recession, and these words that we keep hearing: recession, inflation, and all sorts of the economic crisis conversation that’s been happening.
So I love that we touch on that topic. And then towards the end of this episode, Kathy has a really great resource for you on a way to structure your money, and the different accounts you should be having, and how to automate the whole experience. We love automation. It saves us so much time. So I know you’re going to love this episode.
Before we dive in, here’s a little bit more about Kathy Cruz. Kathy Cruz is the co-founder of the Savage Boutique, a home decor boutique, which started in 2013. The endeavor started with a DIY blog, a few social media accounts, and a little determination.
It only took Kathy and her sister 18 months of running their online business to realize they wanted to do something more with it. They signed a lease for their space, and six months later, they opened a brick and mortar store. That was just the beginning. Kathy works less than 20 hours a week in her retail business, which has profited and grown every year since opening with no debt.
Once she started her shopkeeping journey, Kathy discovered that she has an immersed passion for retail business strategy, digital marketing, processes, systems, implementation, and more. Kathy teaches retailers how to work less, profit more, and grow.
Using her experience and expertise from the success of her own business, Kathy set out to blog about what she learned on her journey. Then she launched the Savvy Shopkeeper Retail Podcast and the Shopkeepers Academy.
You can learn more at SavvyShopkeeper.com and connect with Kathy on Instagram at @SavvyShopkeeper and @TheSalvagedBoutique. 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.
Kathy, welcome to Rooted in Retail. I am thrilled you’re here.
Kathy Cruz: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy we connected recently and I’m looking forward to doing this today.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yes, me too. So Kathy and I were just in Orlando together last week. We’re filming this in October. This is not going to go live till January, but we just had lunch together. We connected and said, okay, we need to have each other on each other’s shows because I listen to your podcast, Savvy Shopkeeper.
How Kathy went from homicide detective to blogger and brick-and-mortar owner
Crystal Vilkaitis: You have so much great content for our retailers. So I’m really excited for you to share it here today. But before we dive in, will you take a couple of minutes? Cause you’re super Rooted in Retail. You’ve got a few different aspects in your life. Will you take us through your retail journey?
Kathy Cruz: Yeah, I’m happy to. So, Rooted in Retail is recent for me in the past decade. I served in law enforcement for almost 20 years.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I had no idea.
Kathy Cruz: I was a homicide detective at the end of my journey. And around the 15-16 year mark, my sister and I wanted to do something creative. So we started a blog.
We were like, we’re just going to upcycle things. This is what our mom taught us. We grew up really poor in Cleveland, Ohio, and our mom taught us how to repurpose things and reuse things. And we wanted to do that together so we did this creative blog. The blog turned into selling on social media, which you’ll appreciate.
It turned into selling on Etsy. And then we started doing one or two markets and we realized we were outgrowing our homes, and we found a brick and mortar space and we decided to go for it. And that’s how my journey started. It’s been interesting because once I opened the store, I realized I spent 20 years in law enforcement.
I have no idea what I’m doing in retail. I don’t know anything about it. And for me, I was on a mission to not just have a hobby. Or a jobby, like they say. I really wanted to be a serious business owner with a profitable business where my sister and I both compensated ourselves for the time and effort we put into it.
So I had to put the work in to educate myself. And I realized there was a gap in the market and no one at least at the time was really serving the micro retailer, someone like us with a single location, well under a million dollars in revenue. And I was trying to find a podcast or a blog. So I started a second blog and that was the Savvy Shopkeeper blog. Because I thought if I can write blog posts that help, even the person that’s just opening or two years in, at least I’m helping someone and at least I’m helping them navigate this so that they’re not spending hours and hours on Google like I was.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Oh, no kidding. And then that has just morphed and grown as well. When did you start the Savvy Shopkeeper blog and podcast?
Kathy Cruz: I think it was 2018.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I feel like that’s just really grown into this beautiful resource. So I really recommend anybody that’s listening to this, you’ve got to subscribe to Kathy’s show as well. And what a fun journey that has led you here. That’s wild, we’re going to have to talk offline about this past life of yours. Cause I have so many questions.
But on your site, I mean, you say right there how you are working about 20 hours a week, you’re profitable. Like you figured it out. You did the hard work and you implemented. And today we want to talk about money. One of my favorite topics, finances.
When we were prepping for this last week in Orlando, that was something that you were like, I’m really passionate about helping retailers with their numbers. And I talk about this on the show too. You’ve got to know your numbers. And I think for some of us, it’s not as sexy. It’s not as fun. It can be intimidating.
There can be a lot of feelings and things around that. So our goal here is to help navigate for our retailers.
The biggest financial mistakes or misconceptions that Kathy’s sees independent retailers make
Crystal Vilkaitis: So let’s go juicy right away. What are some of the biggest mistakes or misconceptions, financial misconceptions and mistakes, that you see independent retailers make?
Kathy Cruz: I have to say, I didn’t realize until you and I ,started prepping for this episode, I knew I was passionate about this subject, but I didn’t realize how passionate. So I’ll say two things in this area. For sure, I often hear retail store owners say, “How is it that I’m making so much money yet not making money?”
It’s a statement I hear all the time. So I would say two things here. The first one is showing a positive net profit on your Profit & Loss statement doesn’t always necessarily mean seeing a positive cash flow. Because now you’re looking at your bank account and you’re wondering, “Okay, my accountant or my bookkeeper,” or even if you do your own bookkeeping, I still do my own bookkeeping.
That’s a long story, but I do my own bookkeeping. And when you look, you might wonder but where’s all of that cash or where is some of that cash? So it’s important to know that especially if you’re in your first few years of building that retail business, that brick and mortar store, you’re investing a lot in inventory and in your build out.
So it shouldn’t be surprising to you that maybe you don’t see that cash in your bank account. That would be one of the first things I say, and I get it. Like you put so much work into it and you’re wondering, where is that money? So I would say that’s first. And then retailers tend to beat themselves up.
Like, “Where is the money?” Or “I don’t understand why it’s not there.” I would say the second thing is just not knowing how slim margins are in a retail business. So through Savvy Shopkeeper, I have a bit of a mastermind group and networking group called Master Shopkeepers. And in there, I teach a lot of these lessons.
And the one lesson, there’s a whole podcast episode on it. It’s called The Retail Profit Pie. So if you took all of your revenue in the shape of a pie, because my sister jokes that I love to eat. It’s a pie. And then you’re trying to figure out where is all of that revenue going? What are the pieces of pie?
So there’s a piece for rent. There’s a piece for other operating expenses. There’s a piece for all the products, your COGS, your cost of goods. And it’s really surprising once I have group members do this exercise, because at the end, they realize that the piece of the pie that goes to paying them or to profiting either doesn’t exist, or it’s super slim. So having the visual, I learned, is extremely helpful because so many retail store owners are creative and visual. So giving them that visual, they get a spreadsheet, they just plug their numbers in. I would say that’s another huge misconception is that you might make hundreds of thousands of dollars or, even for some, million or millions of dollars, but where does all of that money go?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Exactly. I love the visual aspect of it. And I think when we take that time to sit down and really look at it, and I think that’s another mistake is like not taking that time to really look at it. And be really clear and know your numbers. I have to put my hand up. I’m not a retailer, but this weekend I did this big project and I looked at every expense.
What, where’s the money going? Cause it’s so easy for money to be spent on all sorts of things. And if you’re not really clear, staying within a budget, where’s the money going? How much a month, what do I need to be bringing in? You can struggle fast. You can be out of cash fast. So we don’t want that for any of our listeners.
Examples of times when retailers may let their emotions overshadow the facts
Crystal Vilkaitis: Now, when we were talking last week, you mentioned this story of a retailer that you worked with. She bought a hundred shopping bags and you were like, “Okay, do you do a hundred transactions?” And she’s ” No, I do a lot more than that.” And you put this as a decision driven by emotion and fear.
And I bet a lot of retailers and small business owners make those same type of decisions. So can you elaborate on this and maybe share some other examples of retailers that let their emotions overshadow the facts?
Kathy Cruz: Yeah, it’s so easy to do. I want to say that first, I am still a retail store owner. I still co-own a store in Lakewood, Ohio with my sister. So I want to make sure that people know that I’m empathetic here. And these are all things that I’ve experienced myself. It’s easy to drown ourselves in the emotion of everything.
I tell my group members all the time, lean on your data. Some people say data. Lean on your data, lean on the numbers, use those to make the decisions. It just really eliminates a lot of the angst. So this particular store owner, I adore her. She works really hard on her business. And we were either on a group call or a hot seat coaching session.
And she brought up the fact that she has like scarcity problems. And I get that too. And she says, “I’m afraid to order more bags. I tend to order 100 or 200. I might be off on the number.” But immediately I said, “Please open up your Square app.” She uses Square Point of Sale. I said, “Open up your Square app and tell me, run a report for a full year.” Everyone does this on their apps, right? Like we’re constantly opening our apps and running: what’s the sales report? How many transactions did we have? I said, “Tell me how many transactions you conduct on average in a year. Just tell me what the number was for last year.” And I’m pretty sure it was around 3,000 or 4,000 transactions.
But because she was leaning more into the emotion and the fear, she would only order a couple hundred at a time. But when you think about it, what are you paying for shipping every time you order those bags? How much time are you spending to reorder those bags? If you go all in on yourself, I get it.
It takes a little bit of work to kick the fear to the curb, but how confident are you about running your business indefinitely? I think I asked her, “Do you plan on having your business open for a few years at least?” She says, yes, absolutely. And then the aha moment clicked. It was like, ” Oh, maybe I can order a thousand or 2000, or maybe I can just order 3000 at a time.”
Crystal Vilkaitis: It’s so good. You have to look at the data, like you said. And I think that the more that you get comfortable doing that and you have that be the routine versus starting more emotionally from scarcity. Have that routine , it’s going to be easier. And then I think you start asking better questions.
There’s power in knowledge. There’s power in data. So start there first.
Kathy Cruz: Yeah. What happens too is a lot of store owners will say, “My numbers are down,” or “I feel like everything’s down,” or “I feel like.” It’s the feel word. I feel, I think, and when I asked them, there was one group member, also a 1:1 client, she said, “My ecommerce store isn’t performing as well as it did last year.”
I said, “Do you know that for sure?” She said no. I said, “Your homework is to run the report,” and tell me she was in fact up. But it was the feeling that she had, and store owners do that all the time. I can’t tell you how many times people come back and say, “Okay, I’m actually breaking even,” or “I’m up and I didn’t realize it.”
They get caught up in the emotion.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I’ve done that too. I’ve like laughing because I’ve so been there before of that feeling like we’re not at a certain level, we should be further. And then you do the math and I’m like, “Oh, our profitability is like the highest that it’s been.” you know, you’re like, Oh, okay.
Um, yeah, that,, Okay, that feel word. I want my listeners, if you start noticing the feeling, and that can feel like anxiety, and that constriction, and that doubt, and all those things get clear right away. You can tackle that and just look at the numbers and make sure it’s accurate. Make sure you look at the facts. It’s so good, Kathy.
Kathy Cruz: And I would just want to say that even if you are down, use that as power. What can you do with that then? What can you start to change? Whether it’s down or up or even, almost like you want to make that irrelevant. It’s what are you going to do with the information once you have it?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yes, and not be emotional about it. It’s so good.
How can independent retailers harness their numbers to plan out the next quarter or year effectively?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Okay. so planning obviously is vital to any kind of business. How can independent retailers harness their numbers to chart out the next quarter or year effectively?
Kathy Cruz: So this is a fun one because this is another area where I feel retail store owners underestimate themselves. They think that they don’t have the knowledge that they need to do this. They feel like experts do forecasting. I’m not a forecaster. I can’t do that. So I also have a tool called, we call it the BFP tool.
It’s budgeting, forecasting, planning, and just those words alone make store owners cringe. So it breaks it down into sections instead of overwhelming you and saying, let’s just forecast and use everything that you have to do it. Let’s talk about your budget 1st. And budget is just exactly what you pay every month.
Anyhow, they’re real numbers. So it’s just plugging in the numbers. Forecasting, I teach it’s just using the knowledge that you already have. What’s happened in the past? What do you notice that’s happening in your business now? What do you think is going to happen in the year ahead? And if you ask any retail store owners, we all have an idea of what the answers are to those questions.
We just don’t feel like we have the authority or the expertise to answer those questions. But if you empower yourself and say, no, I do know what’s happening in my business. I know what happened last year. I know what’s happening now, and I know what’s happening moving forward or could happen in the future.
Then you start to gain a little momentum and then you can estimate what’s going to happen. And that gives you the ability to plan for quarters, even a full year ahead. Like we work really hard on this in Master Shopkeepers to plan a year in advance. So the new people that come in and we say, and this will resonate with you.
We say, you could probably start planning for Christmas now, in 2023, for 2024 and their minds are blown. They say, “What do you mean a year in advance?” But it really is important for retail store owners to work that far ahead, but it’s a skill you have to learn.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yeah. And it’s great that you have a tool like the BFP: budget, forecast, plan. You gotta do it. And because this is dropping in January, what better time to do something like that now? Kathy, is that resource a part of your membership? Like how could people learn more about that resource?
Kathy Cruz: Yeah, it is all part of the membership. All of these tools are. I have worksheets, I have resources downloads, all the stuff. Lots of Google sheets because I am such a data nerd and I love it. So they would go to savvyshopkeeper.com/groupmembership and when this podcast launches, coincidentally, the application will be open again to join.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Oh, perfect. So we’ll link to that as well, but definitely go check that out if you need those additional resources and also accountability. Like we have a membership site too. It’s so important to have that accountability, that support. You’ve done a lot of the hard work and figured these things out to create these tools for retailers.
So thank you for doing that. I love that resource is there.
Kathy Cruz: Yeah, I always say if I can cut out five years of someone’s journey, it took me so long to get to where I am now in retail. Ten years. If I can cut out five or eight years and we can press fast forward on it, I will save you so much angst.
What key financial metrics or strategies should retailers prioritize to remain resilient and adapt in an uncertain economic climate?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yes. I think everybody wants that. That would be great. We like the shortcuts, right? Now who knows what’s going to be the conversation in a couple of months, since we are filming in October, but there is a lot of conversations about the economy, recession, inflation. And so given the current climate, the economic climate, what key financial metrics or strategies should retailers zero in on to remain resilient and adapt?
Kathy Cruz: I want to say first that this is going to be surprising to retailers. I think there’s so much noise and clutter on the internet and in the media that it, again, feels like the economy is a mess. And if you look at economic indicators, especially now in retail, as we record, who knows what’s going to happen in January, but as we are recording economic indicators in retail are actually okay.
They’re not down. But for some reason, there’s so much chatter about how awful everything is right now. So I think that’s important first, is to reframe that in your mind and say things are okay. I am going to be okay. So moving forward, I think that’s really important is first work on the mindset. It’s also important to set boundaries around it. Who do you need to unfollow? Who do you need to stop having economic conversations with? It could be family, loved ones. And I get it. We don’t necessarily want to cut out our loved ones, but maybe you can set boundaries around those conversations.
What can you use in your inventory system to help educate you about making decisions moving forward?
Kathy Cruz: So that would be 1st. 2nd is, lean into your inventory system. What can you use in your inventory system to help educate you about making decisions moving forward? So I talk a lot about inventory turn and I talk about sell through. So inventory turn is specifically will give you knowledge about categories in your business.
Sell through will give you knowledge about individual products in your business. And I wish I had time to teach about all of it now, and I don’t, but I think what’s really important if you, if I just wanted to tell everyone, what’s the first thing to focus on? I would say, clean up your inventory categories.
And these could be called collections, whatever they’re called, it doesn’t matter. But those main categories, can you set up 10 main categories? Because what happens, and this is another thing that independent retailers don’t know, is that most point of sale systems or inventory management systems don’t have a good inventory turn reporting system.
So we have to do this manually. And when you do something manually, how can you simplify it? So for me, it’s let’s create 10 main categories because I calculate inventory turn for all 10 of our categories before I go to market every year in January. I know which categories are performing well, and which aren’t, and which ones I want to lean into more, and maybe which ones I’m going to eliminate.
So I would say start there first. Clean up your inventory in terms of categories, and that is going to give you the ability to start to learn about inventory turn and sell through rate.
The inventory management system Kathy recommends retailers use for their store
Crystal Vilkaitis: So smart. Kathy, what kind of inventory management system do you use?
Kathy Cruz: So I use Shopventory , for my own store. I always tell people, if you can go with one system for everything, Square for everything, Shopify for everything, that is the most ideal. But it would be a long story to explain about where I am with my own store. Because I kind of had to create a bridge between Square for our point of sale system and Shopify online. And Shopventory is the tool I use to connect the two.
It works well. Is it ideal? No, but it works pretty well for us.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Awesome. I always like to know some of the tech and the tools and I know our listeners do too. There’s always what are you using? Do you like it? So I had to ask it for our retailers. That’s so good. I love how you said the feel right, and reframe, and the mindset, and set boundaries. Some of those things are easy for us to forget about and get so swept up into those conversations and the doom and gloom.
There is so much conversation and that pain and the dark, it sells more. It’s more triggering. That’s the content that does better online. Unfortunately, that’s how it is. And so that is what we see more of. And you gave such a good reminder of all right, hold on.
Let’s really reframe. What are you seeing? Let’s look at the data and let’s set some boundaries as well. Great tips. And then also just really tactical tips with your inventory too. So I love it.
Kathy’s advice for one easy thing retailers can implement right away to gain more confidence in their financial situation
Crystal Vilkaitis: Now a lot of retailers feel very overwhelmed when it comes to their finances. Can you share one super easy thing that they can implement right away to gain more confidence in their financial situation?
Kathy Cruz: So I don’t know if this is super easy, but it’s my best tip for retail store owners is to set up a cash management system. So when I say that, it’s essentially if you go back to the 70s and 80s, when people would take their paycheck to a bank, cash it and then take their cash and put it into separate envelopes: 1 for rent, 1 for utilities, I want business owners to do the same thing.
It just gives you a really clear picture instead of having one bank balance that’s deceiving sometimes. Not that it’s intentionally deceiving, but you sometimes see a big balance in the bank and you think, “Oh, I have all of that money.” But really, if we talk about the retail profit pie, you need to make sure that certain percentages are going to certain parts of your business and having multiple bank accounts to manage that gives you a really clear picture and it brings peace of mind.
Profit First is a great book to start. It’s by Mike Michalowicz. That’s a fantastic resource. And now there’s an online banking platform and cash management system software. It’s called Relay Financial. It can really help you set that up and automate those transfers. So the idea is every two weeks out of all of the income that comes into my business, 8 percent is going to go to rents.
8 percent is going to go to sales tax. That’s what we pay here in Ohio and Cuyahoga County. So depending on where you are, maybe a certain percentage goes to IRS tax. Usually, the roadblock for people setting up this kind of system is going to their local bank to set this up. And I still think everyone should have a local bank account and a local banking relationship.
But if you can manage this part, where those certain percentages go to certain parts of your business. Relay is a cool tool to use for that. And they’re fairly new. And I have information on my site for both of them. I can give you the links to both. But it’s savvyshopkeeper.com/profitfirst. Or savvyshopkeeper.com/relay. If they want to just learn about it.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Okay. That’s so cool. I’m going to go learn about it too, because I love Profit First. I also love Donald Miller who wrote How to Build Your Small Business. And one of his things in that book is setting up multiple accounts. And so I took action. I went set up multiple accounts. But I only have, I think I have two or three different accounts right now.
I could even go deeper, but even just seeing it in those different buckets and seeing it allocated, it provides more clarity instead of seeing that one number. And so I think this is something every listener should be doing because even just taxes, like that was something for me, especially early on.
I owe this big lump sum of money that I was not expecting. And so having all that done automated for you is beautiful. What a great resource.
Kathy Cruz: I think what’s really helpful is the what’s the biggest benefit of it is the relief. Because once we again, we talk a lot about this in Master Shopkeepers. Once somebody sets it up, I can’t tell you how many group members have said, “I never have to worry anymore that I don’t have the money to pay for my sales taxes,” to the state or whoever it is they pay for.
Or I love that I now know that every month I pay myself, even if it’s a small percentage, I tell retail store owners, listen, I know, margins are slim, but if you build the habit of paying yourself first, even if it’s 1%, whatever it is, that will start to give you the momentum to get to a place where you pay yourself regularly.
And a lot of retail store owners have a habit of paying everyone else first and not paying themselves. So what happens is within a few years, you will burn out because you’re not paying, you’re not compensating yourself for your time. And you start to resent every part of your business and all of the financials and wondering why it is that you’re not paying yourself.
But if you prioritize that. And it doesn’t mean it has to be big to start. You can start to grow that because now you’re really starting to pay attention to your numbers. And Mike Michalowicz talks about this really well. It’ll give you aha moments if you read that book.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yeah, I completely agree. I actually should read it again because that I, there were so many ahas for me but the relief, like you’re talking about, you don’t want to wake up two years from now and you’re like, what do I have to show for it? Sure, you have a store. Maybe you have a great team.
Maybe your community loves you, but you also have to take care of you. We want to make sure you’re making money. So if it’s just automated, you have no decision in it. You have no power. You’re not clicking any buttons or saying, “Oh, I’ll take this much.” It’s just automated and you pay yourself.
Then it takes out the guesswork. It ensures you’re getting paid. It’s just something I feel like every single listener needs to do. So we will link to those resources. Thank you for sharing those. That could be business and life changing
for somebody listening right now.
Kathy Cruz: Yes.
What sparks Kathy’s excitement and anticipation for her businesses in 2024
Crystal Vilkaitis: It’s awesome, Kathy. Okay. As we look ahead, what sparks your excitement and anticipation for your businesses in 2024?
Kathy Cruz: No, that’s good. I actually have quite a bit changing, but I haven’t shared. I guess maybe when this airs, maybe I will have shared by then. But I’m excited because I think what I really realized this year is when you start a different path. And now I’ve changed, I started the store and that was new.
I started Savvy Shopkeeper and that was new. But the one thing that I really feel over the past year or two is that I am working in my zone of genius, and I am serving micro independent retailers really well. Because I am one, because I know the pain points. I’ve learned how to help them the best. I’ve made so many mistakes in business.
When I first started Savvy Shopkeeper, I offered things that people didn’t need. And I joke about this all the time, I am so willing to fail. And if I fail and it doesn’t serve someone, then what can I do to serve them instead? So I feel like I’m in a really good place in terms of finally feeling confident that I am serving indie retailers well, and that I really know what I want to do moving forward.
So that excites me the most.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Oh, I love it. I’m so excited for you. It feels. So good when you’re in that zone of genius and I cannot wait to hear what’s going to be happening in 2024. So we will all be following along and excited to tune in. Kathy, are you ready for the resilience round?
Kathy’s resilience round
Kathy Cruz: I think I’m ready. Let’s go.
Best business book
Crystal Vilkaitis: All right, let’s do it. Best business book.
Kathy Cruz: I’m going to have to just tap into what I just said. So let’s stick with cash management or the financial part. So Profit First, another really good one. If you want to chuckle and laugh at yourself and have a lot of aha moments, just about being a small business owner in general, The E-Myth Revisited.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Oh yeah.
Kathy Cruz: It’s so good. I actually played it at my retreat. I host a retreat. I’ve hosted two and I played part of it and the whole audience was just laughing because it’s so relatable.
Best retail technology
Crystal Vilkaitis: I so know what you’re talking about. Great recommendations. Best retail technology, like an app or software.
Kathy Cruz: Okay, so I love, love, love Canva. It’s just great for social media. I’m sure you know, like social media graphics, banners for your website, whatever it is. So many things for email marketing. But I would say that email marketing is the most underutilized form of marketing for indie retailers. For some reason, they resist it.
I hosted an email marketing challenge in Master Shopkeepers, and it was one of the best challenges I hosted so far because group members saw the best results. So I would say, any email marketing software would be my number one for retail store owners.
How do you keep up with the ever-changing world of retail?
Crystal Vilkaitis: So good, so agree. Use email, that’s like a goldmine right there. Love it. How do you keep up with the ever changing retail landscape?
Kathy Cruz: Master Shopkeepers. Now with over 150 group members, there’s just so there’s so many conversations. I would say that number 1, we share a lot of resources with each other articles. We have the conversations, we get on group calls. So that wasn’t the case, when I first started, but because there’s so many of us willing to share with each other, that’s my number one resource.
Number two, I would say all the retail magazines, there’s so many good retail magazines that you can subscribe to. And a lot of them are for free. You don’t even have to pay for them. That’s where we met at Seaside Retailer’s coastal Connections Conference. They have two magazines that are really fantastic.
And all those magazines are filled. You’ll see new products, new vendors. They’ll talk about trends. There’s lots of helpful articles. So I would say a lot of those independent retail magazines.
What’s a financial foundational best practice to help retailers be stronger and more rooted in success?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Great resources. To help retailers be stronger, more rooted in success, what’s a financial foundational best practice?
Kathy Cruz: I would have to say again, the cash management system. I know I talked about it already, but I just think it’s really helpful to give you a clear understanding of where your cash should be going.
If you had to start your business all over again, what’s one thing you’d do differently?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Totally, Awesome. If you had to start your business all over again, what’s one thing you’d do differently?
Kathy Cruz: Hands down down without at, I would invest in myself. I would invest in my mindset. It was one thing that I learned. I’m an action taker and I love to just get things done. And I thought if I just take action, I just take action. I will gain momentum in my business. What I didn’t realize, especially when the pandemic hit, a lot of systemic and program thinking just surfaced that I was suppressing and that really could have sent me into a tailspin.
Instead, I invested in a coach and I’ve really worked on my mindset and on myself for the past three years. And now I realize if I had done that decades ago, where would I be now? No regrets, but it’s been the best investment in myself is working on me, and working on my mind, because if I’m in a really healthy place and I have a really solid mindset, then I can help people through that too.
What does the future of independent retail look like?
Crystal Vilkaitis: I can’t agree with you more. Some of the best investments I’ve made exactly in myself, and it’s transformed me. It’s transformed my business. I can’t agree more. So good, Kathy. All right, final question. What do you think the future of independent retail looks like?
Kathy Cruz: Ooh, now I would say, and this could change in the future. But for now, I’m going to say experiential, it’s all about creating the experiences in the stores. I recently was interviewed by the National Retail Federation and I said, brick and mortar retail is not dead and it’s not dying. It’s strong.
And I really just want people to stop saying that because it’s not the truth. People still love to shop in brick and mortar stores. So what experiences can you provide people? Because they do want to disconnect from social media. They do want to be in person. They do want to connect. I see that in my own community.
I see that in people listening to Savvy Shopkeeper, retail store owners want to connect too. So what can you do to bring those connections into your store and to create the experiences for them? I think that is going to be really big over the next year or two.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I agree, Kathy. I love this conversation. Thank you so much for sharing and opening up and giving us so many resources. Where can retailers connect with you further?
Kathy Cruz: Thank you. Savvyshopkeeper.com is really the most simple place to go. You’ll see links to my social media accounts. You’ll see a link to the podcast, the group membership. It really is all there. So I’m going to keep it nice and simple. Savvyshopkeeper.com.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Perfect. We’ll link to everything. Kathy, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate you. And everyone, remember that I am rooting for your success. Have a great week ahead. Bye.
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