YCQM - Tasha Wallis, Marc Sherman - Nov. 25, 2012 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM - Tasha Wallis, Marc Sherman - Nov. 25, 2012

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

You Can Quote Me -- November 25, 2012 -- The Vt. Retail Association's Tasha Wallis and Stowe Mercantile's Marc Sherman join Kristin Carlson and Darren Perron to discuss the holiday shopping outlook.

TRANSCRIPT:

>>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE, THE
HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON, TRENDS,
BARGAINS AND TACTICS TO GET
CONSUMERS THROUGH THE DOORS.
THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DISCUSSING
THIS SUNDAY MORNING.  
>> OUR NEWS MAKERS ARE TASHA
WALLIS OF VERMONT RETAIL
ASSOCIATION AND MARC SHERMAN OF
STOWE MERCANTILE.
THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE ON SUCH
A PRECURSOR TO THE VERY BUSY
TIME.  
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING
US.  
>> TASHA, TAKE US UP TO 10,000
FEET, GIVEN US THE BIG VIEW.
FOR LOCAL RETAILERS, WHAT ARE
YOU HEARING AS THEY HEAD INTO
THIS REALLY CRITICAL, BUSY
HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON?
>> YOU KNOW, THE CATCH-PHRASE IS
CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC, BUT I
THINK WE'RE KIND OF VEERING
TOWARDS OPTIMISTIC.
THE NATIONAL --
>> THAT'S NEW.
WE'VE TALKED IN THE PAST, AND IT
WAS SORT OF LIKE BARELY
OPTIMISTIC.  
>> RIGHT, RIGHT.
WELL, IN IT 2007 RETAIL TOOK A
HUGE HIT WHEN THE ECONOMY TOOK A
DIVE, AND HAS BEEN CRAWLING OUT
OF THE HOLE EVER SINCE.
BUT CONSUMERS HAVE BEEN REALLY
RESILIENT, AND THIS YEAR WE'VE
SEEN THAT SALES TAX RECEIPTS IN
VERMONT HAVE GONE UP, AND WE
TALKED TO A LOT OF OUR MEMBERS
OF THE RETAIL ASSOCIATION AND
THEY ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE
HOLIDAY SEASON.  
>> HAVE YOUR MEMBERS HAD TO MAKE
ANY ADJUSTMENTS DURING THIS TIME
PERIODS, AND IS THAT WHY WE'RE
SEEING MORE OPTIMISM IN THE
RETAIL MARKET?
>> EVERYONE HAS HAD TO GET A LOT
SMARTER, AND IF YOU HAVEN'T
IMPROVED YOUR BUSINESS
PRACTICES, YOU PROBABLY HAVEN'T
BEEN AROUND.
ONE.  
THINGS THAT STORES HAVE HAD TO
DO IS IMPROVE THEIR INVENTORY
CONTROL, AND REALLY HAVE A MUCH
BETTER SENSE OF WHAT THEY'VE GOT
IN STORE AND WHAT TO ORDER,
MAYBE MARC CAN SPEEP -- SPEAK TO
THAT A LITTLE BIT.
IN 2007, SO MANY STORES IN
VERMONT WERE LEFT WITH SO MUCH
MERCHANDISE, THEY JUST COULDN'T
SELL.  
>> THAT WAS THE MAIN PROBLEM.
TALK A LITTLE BIT, WHAT ARE YOU
SEEING AT YOUR BUSINESS IN
STOWE?
>> WE DEFINITELY SLOWLY IN THE
LAST SEVERAL YEARS, CLIMBING OUT
OF A TERRIBLE, YOU KNOW,
RECESSION, 2007-2008, REALLY
HARD YEARS.
SO WE'RE SLOWLY COMING OUT OF
THAT.
WE'VE ALSO MADE A LOT OF
ADAPTATIONS.
WE HAVE REDUCED STAFFING FOR A
WHILE, WATCH EVERY EXPENSE HAD
TO BE EXAMINED, AND SO WE'RE
JUST A MUCH LEANER BUSINESS NOW.
SO AS THE SALES INCREASE, WE'RE
A LITTLE MORE COMFORTABLE, BUT
STILL IT IS A VERY FINE LINE
RIGHT NOW.
>> IT IS JUST -- IS THIS A MAKE
OR BREAK SEASON?
YOU SAID YOU HAVE BEEN CLIMBING
OUT OF IT STRONGLY.
COULD STRONG SALES REALLY HELP
PUT THINGS BACK ON A NORMAL EE
QUILL IB REYUM?
>> -- EQUILIBRIUM?
>> ABSOLUTELY.
DECEMBER AND OCTOBER OUR TWO
BUSIEST MONTHS.
IF WE DON'T HAVE A STRONG
DECEMBER, THE WINTER IS A LONG
SEASON FOR US.  
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT OCTOBER.  
>> OCTOBER, RIGHT.
>> YOU RELY ON TOURISM, CORRECT?
>> 90% OF OUR BUSINESS IS TOUR
IS-BASED, AND SO -- TOURIST
BASED.
SO LATE SEPTEMBER, THE FIRST
TWO, THREE WEEKS OF OCTOBER,
VERY CRITICAL TO US, AND EACH
YEAR, OCTOBER-DECEMBER KIND OF
FIGHT FOR THE BUSIEST MONTH OF
THE YEAR FOR US.  
>> SO HOW WAS OCTOBER?
HOW DID IT COMPARE?
>> GOOD.
IT WAS STRONG.
NOT, AGAIN, NOT LIKE, YOU KNOW,
FOUR OR FIVE YEARS AGO, BUT IT
WAS A VERY STRONG MONTH FOR US,
AND SO WE'RE OKAY TO THIS POINT.
WE'RE HAPPY WITH IT.
LOOKING FORWARD TO DECEMBER.  
>> SO A LITTLE BIT OF A
DIFFERENT ANGLE THIS IT YEAR ON
THE HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON,
PROBABLY DOESN'T AFFECT SMALLER
BUSINESSES LIKE YOURS, BUT
TASHA, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE
BIG BOXES, AND THEY ARE OPENING
EARLIER AND EARLIER AND EARLIER.
IS THIS A TREND THAT IS GOING TO
CONTINUE, AND WHY DO THIS IT?
>> THE BIG STORES ARE ACTUALLY
UNDER THE SAME PRESSURES THAT
THE SMALLER LOCAL STORES ARE,
WHICH IS THE INCREDIBLE RISE IN
ONLINE SHOPPING.
RIGHT NOW, IF YOU GO ONLINE, YOU
CAN ALREADY SEE PRE-BLACK FRIDAY
DEALS, YOU CAN BOOK YOUR iPAD
WHEN YOU ARE PREPARING YOUR
THANKSGIVING MEAL OR ENJOYING
IT.
SO THEY ARE REALLY FACING THAT
KIND OF COMPETITION, AND THE
MOBILE DPE VICE -- DEVICES ARE
MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT.
THE RESEARCH SHOWS THAT JUST
OVER HALF OF AMERICANS HAVE
SMARTPHONES, AND ABOUT 70% OF
THOSE PEOPLE WILL BE USING THEIR
SMARTPHONE IN SOME WAY TO SHOP,
WHETHER THAT'S COMPARING PRICES
IN STORES, OR WHETHER THAT'S
EVEN FINDING A STORE.
>> SO HOW DOES THAT IMPACT, YOU
KNOW, THE FOLKS OF THE VERMONT
RETAILERS ASSOCIATION?
>> IT IS VERY DIFFICULT.
FOR THE LARGE STORES, WHAT WE'VE
SEEN IS A MOVE TO PRICE
MATCHING.
BECAUSE SOMEONE CAN WALK INTO A
STORE, HOLD UP THE MOBILE DEVICE
USING ONE OF THE APPS, SCAN THE
BAR COLD, AND IMMEDIATELY -- BAR
CODE AND IMMEDIATELY SEE ONLINE
PRICE COMPARISONS, OR EVEN PRICE
COMPARISONS AT ANOTHER LOCAL
STORE.
>> WHY SHOULD SOMEONE SHOPPING,
THE PAIN THAT THE LOCAL
RETAILERS ARE FEELING, A A LOT
OF VERMONTERS ARE FEELING, THEY
HAVE HOURS CUT BACK OR SLOWLY
GETTING THEIR HOURS BACK.
BUT IF THEY CAN COMPARE AND
FIND, YOU KNOW, TOY A IN THEIR
LOCAL STORE FOR $25, FIND THE
SAME TOY ONLINE FOR $19, WHAT
WOULD BE THE CATCH TO BRIE IT --
BUY IT LOCALLY?
>> I THINK THAT IT'S VERY
IMPORTANT FOR CONSUMERS TO THINK
ABOUT LOCALLY, BUT, AGAIN,
REMEMBER THAT THE CONSUMERS IN
VERMONT, THEY ARE NOT JUST
VERMONTERS.
WE SEE A LOT OF TOURISTS IN
DECEMBER, WE SEE A LOT OF
CANADIANS COME DOWN IN
CHITTENDEN COUNTY TO DO THEIR
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING.
IT IS NOT JUST LOCAL SHOPPERS.
I HAVE TALKED TO SOME OF OUR
MEMBERS, AND THEY DO SAY THAT
THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY AMONG
LOCAL SHOPPERS IS ACTUALLY
STRONGER NOW BECAUSE THESE
SHOPPERS ARE AWARE OF WHAT THEIR
LOCAL RETAILERS HAVE BEEN
THROUGH.
AND LOCAL RETAILERS ARE REALLY
TRYING TO TAP INTO THAT, WHETHER
IT'S FLANNEL FRIDAY IN
MONTPELIER, OR SMALL BUSINESS
SATURDAY, WHICH THE CHURCH
STREET STORES ARE REALLY MAKING
A MOVE TO PROMOTE THIS YEAR.  
>> LET'S EXPAND ON, FOR EXAMPLE,
FLANNEL FRIDAY IN MONTPELIER.
ARE WE SEEING MORE COMMUNITIES
DO THESE KIND OF GIMMICKS TO GET
CONSUMERS THROUGH THE DOOR IN
THE SAME VEIN THAT THESE LARGER
BIG BOX STORES ARE DANGLING
BARGAINS EARLIER?
>> WELL, IT IS THE SAME THING,
THERE CERTAINLY ARE BARGAINS
ASSOCIATED WITH FLANNEL FRIDAY,
BUT I THINK THAT THEY ARE ALSO
TAPPING INTO THE STRONG
COMMUNITY BASE, BECAUSE
PROMOTIONS LIKE THAT AREN'T
GOING TO WORK UNLESS YOU ALREADY
HAVE A STRONG COMMITTED CUSTOMER
BASE.  
>> EXPLAIN THAT FLANNEL FRIDAY.  
>> FLANNEL FRIDAY, OKAY.
IN MONTPELIER, IT'S KIND OF FUN.  
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS WEAR SOME
KIND OF FLANNEL, AND THEN YOU
HAVE ACCESS TO BARRING ANGST
AROUND THE TOWN OF -- BARGAINS
AROUND THE TOWN.  
>> IT'S BEEN DONE FOR A WHILE.
I'M CURIOUS, MARC, MAYBE YOU CAN
TALK ABOUT WHAT KIND OF IMPACT
ARE YOU SEEING AS MORE SHOPPERS
ARE LOOKING TO THEIR
SMARTPHONES, PRICE SHOPPING.
IS IT SOMETHING YOU'VE SEEN IN
YOUR STORE AND COMMUNITY?
>> WE SEE A LITTLE BIT OF IT.
MOST -- FOR INSTANCE, ABOUT A
THIRD OF OUR STORE IS SPECIALTY
FOOD, WHICH ARE ALL SMALL
VENDORS, MOSTLY FROM VERMONT, SO
NONE OF THEM REALLY HAVE BAR
CODES, AND IT'S SUCH A NICHE
MARKET A.
MUFF OF THE REST OF THE STORE
IS -- MUFF OF THE REST OF THE
STORE IS LESS NATIONAL BRANDS --
MUCH OF THE STORE IS LESS
NATIONAL BRANDS.
WE HAVE A NICHE THERE.
THERE ARE INSTANCES WHERE PEOPLE
ARE STILL SCANNING THE FEW ITEMS
THAT DO HAVE BAR CODES AND KIND
OF COMPARING.  
>> WHAT DOES THAT DO TO YOU AS
AN OWNER WHEN YOU SEE THAT?
>> IT IS REALLY FRUSTRATING,
BECAUSE ONE OF THE IMPACTS IS,
I'LL NEVER BE THE LOW PRICE IN
THE MARKET, BUT I ALSO SUPPORT
EVERY LOCAL COMMUNITY, YOU KNOW,
ORGANIZATION FOR THEIR
FUNDRAISING.
WE HIRE ALL, YOU KNOW, LOCAL
HIGH SCHOOL KIDS, TRAIN THEM,
YOU KNOW, GIVE THEM THE FIRST
JOB, WE PAY REALLY GOOD WAGES.
ALL THAT FACTORS INTO MY
PRICING, SO WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING
AT JUST, YOU KNOW, ROCK BOTTOM
LOW PRICE, IT'S REALLY HARD TO
COMMUNICATE THAT TO EVERY
CUSTOMER, THAT HERE'S HOW OUR
PRICING IS SET AND WHAT IT TAKES
TO RUN THE BUSINESS.  
>> SO WHAT DO YOU WANT CONSUMERS
TO KNOW IF THEY ARE, SAY,
SHOPPING IN STOWE?
>> JUST THAT THEIR EXPERIENCE
COMING TO STOWE, QUAINT VILLAGE,
MAIN STREET SHOPPING, THERE IS A
COST TO THAT.
IT'S NOT BUYING DIRECTLY FROM AN
ONLINE SOURCE, THERE IS
OVERHEAD, AND WE PROVIDE RETAIL
SPHERE, WE CREATE AN EXPERIENCE
FOR GUESTS AND THAT ADDS TO OUR
OVERHEAD.
THAT'S HOW OUR PRICING HAS TO BE
BUILT.  
>> YOU HAVE BEEN IN BUSINESS NOW
FOR A LITTLE OVER 25 YEARS, YOU
HAVE TWO STORES IN STOWE.
WHAT HAS CHANGED IN THAT TIME
PERIOD THAT WOULD SORT OF
SURPRISE THE YOUNGER YOU, IF YOU
COULD TELL YOURSELF?
[  LAUGHS ]
>> SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHANGES
ARE SUMMER AND FALL MARKET HAVE
BECOME MUCH STRONGER THAN THE
WINTER.
WHEN I STARTED OUT, WINTER WAS
THE STRONGER SEASON.
HIRING.
HIRING IS MUCH MORE CHALLENGING
THAN IT USED TO BE.
AND KEEPING PEOPLE REALLY
INTERESTED, BUT OVERALL THE
SEASONAL CHANGES AND THE
BUSINESS PATTERNS REMAIN FAIRLY
THE SAME.  
>> IT COMES DOWN TO CUSTOMER
SERVICE, HAVING WHAT CUSTOMERS
WANTS.
THERE IS NO SECRET, RIGHT?
>> NO.
WE GO TO SEVERAL MARKETS EVERY
YEAR LOOKING FOR NEW PRODUCT,
AND, YEP, WE EMPHASIZE SERVICE
ALL THE TIME WITH OUR STAFF.
>> IS THERE A PUSH FOR EVEN
SMALLER STORES AROUND BLACK
FRIDAY OR THE HOLIDAY SEASON TO
GET CONSUMERS IN?
ANY SORT OF TACTICS THAT YOU
FOLKS DO TO GET PEOPLE SPENDING
THEIR DOLLARS THERE?
>> WE HAVEN'T UNTIL THE LAST TWO
YEARS WE ARE REALLY WORKING WITH
SOCIAL MEDIA TRYING TO ENGAGE
OUR CUSTOMERS THAT WAY.
WITH OUR APPAREL STORE THE
BOUTIQUE, WHICH IS WOMEN'S
APPAREL, WHICH IS A LITTLE
DIFFERENT MARKET THAN STOWE
MERCANTILE, WE CAN HAVE A LITTLE
MORE FUN, A STRONGER, LOYAL
FOLLOWING LOCALLY, SO WE CAN
INTERACT WITH THOSE PEOPLE,
INTERACT WITH THEM, OFFER THEM
SPECIALS OR REASONS TO COME INTO
THE STORE.
THAT'S A REASON TO HE DEVELOP
STOWE MERCANTILE.
>> WHAT ARE YOU SEEING AS A
TREND, SOCIAL MEDIA BECOMING
MORE OF A BUSINESS THAT'S 25
YEARS OLD, WHAT ARE OTHER
BUSINESSES DOING WITH SOCIAL
MEDIA, IS THAT BECOMING MORE
COMMON?
OR SOME FOLKS SAY IT IS NOT
NECESSARY?
>> THE ANSWER IS, IT IS ALL OVER
THE BALLPARK.
WE STILL HAVE SMALL RETAIL
STORES IN VERMONT THAT WE CAN'T
COMMUNICATE WITH VIA EMAIL, SO
WE SEND OUT, YOU KNOW, PRINTED
COPIES.  
>> COULD BE THEY HAVE BAD
INTERNET SERVICE.  
>> WE HAVE SENT THEM PRINTED
COPIES OF OUR NEWSLETTER.
WE HAVE STORES VERY INTERESTED
IN IT, YOU KNOW, FACEBOOK,
PINTEREST, ANY TIME THERE'S SOME
NEW THING ONLINE THEY MIGHT BE
ABLE TO USED TO GET OUT THEIR
MESSAGE, THEY TAKE AN INTEREST
IN IT.
ALSO, VERY MANY STORES NOW ALSO
HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE AS WELL.  
THEY HAVE A WEBSITE AND AUDIENCE
OUTSIDE OF VERMONT.
>>> AS YOU KNOW, STOWE IS IS A
PRETTY STRONG ECONOMIC REGION
FOR THIS STATE.
USUALLY DOES PRETTY WELL WHEN IT
COMES TO UNEMPLOYMENT, ALSO
TOURISTS WHO COME.
STATEWIDE, HOW ARE OTHER REGIONS
DOING?
>> I'VE SPOKE TO MEMBERS AROUND
THE STATE GENERALLY THEY ARE
DOING OKAY TO PRETTY WELL.
VERMONT GENERALLY HAS LESS
SEVERE UPS AND DOWNS WITH THE
ECONOMY THAN WE SEE NATIONALLY.
EVEN THOSE COMMUNITIES HIT HARD,
THEY ARE CERTAINLY NOT IN AS
DIFFICULT STATES AS WE'RE SEEING
IN SOME OF THE NATIONAL CASES
WHERE THERE'S HIGH MORTGAGE
FAILURE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.  
>> THERE IS NOT LIKE A PART OF
THE STATE YOU CAN POINT TO AND
SAY THIS AREA, HAVING MORE
TOWNS, THIS AREA DOING A LITTLE
BETTER?
>> CERTAINLY SOME AREAS ARE
STILL RECOVERING FROM IRENE,
WHERE STORES ARE JUST OPENING
UP.
AND THERE WE'RE SEEING A LOT OF
COMMUNITY SPIRIT IN THOSE AREAS.
LOT OF SUPPORT.  
>> WE MENTIONED BRIEFLY ABOUT
FLANNEL FRIDAY.
ARE THERE OTHER REGIONS IN
VERMONT THAT ARE DOING SIMILAR,
YOU KNOW, DEALS.  
>> FUN LITTLE CATCHY PHRASES.
>> CHURCH STREET OR ANYTHING
LIKE THAT?
>> RIGHT.  
>> PAJAMA PARTY SATURDAY.  
>> RIGHT.
YOU KNOW, SMALL BUSINESS
SATURDAY IS A NATIONAL EVENT,
AND THAT HAS CAUGHT ON IN A LOT
OF COMMUNITIES.
IT IS NOT JUST CHURCH STREET.
I KNOW THAT A LOT OF BUSINESSES
IN RUTLAND ARE TRYING TO PROMOTE
THAT AS SOMETHING TO BRING
LOCALS IN AS WELL.  
>> TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT
THAT.
WHAT IS THE IDEA BEHIND THAT?
>> IT WAS STARTED SEVERAL YEARS
AGO.
IT WAS ACTUALLY STARTED BY
AMERICAN EXPRESS, BUT THE IDEA
WAS TO HAVE A DAY LIKE BLACK
FRIDAY, WHERE YOU REALLY
CELEBRATED YOUR LOCAL BUSINESSES
AND YOU WENT INTO YOUR LOCAL
BUSINESSES.  
>> SO BLACK FRIDAY REALLY HAS
BECOME SUCH A PHENOMENON.
WAS IT EVER LIKE THIS BEFORE?
>> IT'S ALWAYS BEEN IMPORTANT TO
US, AND, AGAIN, WE'RE SORT OF AT
A NATIONAL TREND, AND IT'S BASED
ON THE SKIING, IF WE HAVE SKIING
IN STOWE, WE'RE BUSY.
WE DON'T -- THAT'S ONE OF THOSE
NATIONAL TRENDS, WE DON'T FOLLOW
UNLESS WE'VE GOT SKIING.
>> AND THERE'S ALREADY BEEN SOME
SKIING, RIGHT?
>> CORRECT.
THE MOUNTAIN IS OPEN.
SUPPOSEDLY THE SNOW IS GOOD, AND
THE WORD IS THE INNS, HOTELS ARE
FULL THIS WEEKEND.
WE SHOULD HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND.  
>> WE'LL TAKE A BRIEF BREAK AND
CONTINUE TALKING ALL THINGS
SHOPPING AFTER THESE MESSAGES.
STAY WITH US.
>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE.
WE ARE CONTINUING TO TALK ABOUT
SHOPPING AS WE HEAD INTO THE
ALL-IMPORTANT HOLIDAY SHOPPING
SEASON.
WE'RE JOINED BY MARC SHERMAN OF
STOWE MERCANTILE AND TASHA WALL
IGS OF VERMONT RETAIL
ASSOCIATION -- WALL IGS OF
VERMONT RETAIL ASSOCIATION.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT THE
MUST-HAVES THIS HOLIDAY SHOPPING
SEASON.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST ITEMS ON
THE WISH LIST?
>> ON MY WISH LIST --
[ LAUGHTER ]
>> I DO HAVE FAMILY WATCHING.  
>> WHAT ARE CONSUMERS WANTING?
>> IT IS FUNNY.
USUALLY EACH YEAR YOU SEE A LONG
LIST.
RIGHT NOW IT'S TABLETS.
TABLETS COME IN SO MANY
DIFFERENT SIZES AND SHAPGS AND
BRANDS RIGHT NOW -- SHAPES AND
BRANDS AND THE PRICE POINTS HAVE
BEEN DROPPING SOMEWHAT, SO THEY
ARE VERY ACCESSIBLE.
ALSO VERSIONS FOR YOUNGER AND
YOUNGER KIDS.
SEW EVEN ONE OF THE TOYS THAT
PEOPLE ARE SEEKING.
>> WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HOT
ITEMS AT YOUR STORE THIS HOLIDAY
SEASON?
>> WE'RE REALLY PUSHING GIFT
BASKETS.
>> NOT THE TABLETS, I KNOW THAT.  
>> GIFT BASKETS.
WE DO A BIG ARRAY OF PRE-MADE
AND ALSO CREATE YOUR OWN GIFT
BASKETS.
THAT'S BEEN GROWING EACH YEAR,
SO WE'VE GOT A BIGGER
PRESENTATION THIS YEAR OF THAT.
IT GIVES PEOPLE FLEXIBILITY TO
PUT TOGETHER ANY ASSORTMENT OF
ITEMS IN THE STORE.
ALL SORTS OF CONTAINERS AND WE
CAN DO CUSTOM PRINT RIBBONS.
WE HAVE MOVED INTO THE CUSTOM
TAILORED GIFT BASKET FOR EVERY
CUSTOMER.
THAT'S BEEN INTERESTING TO WATCH
THIS GROW.
>> AS YOU YOU LOOK FORWARD AS A
BUSINESS PERSON, IS THERE
ANYTHING THAT MAKES YOU NERVOUS
OR GIVES YOU PAUSE THAT MAKES
YOU THINK, OOH, I HOPE THIS
DOESN'T HAPPEN, OR I HOPE THAT
DOESN'T HAPPEN.
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT MAKES YOU
NERVOUS?
>> LOTS OF THINGS PROBABLY.  
>> YES.
>> GET OUT THE LIST.
>> WE'RE DEFINITELY CONCERNED ON
THE NATIONAL LEVEL, THE FISCAL
CLIFF AND WHAT IS THE SHOPPER --
WHAT SP THE ENTIRE COUNTRY --
WHAT IS THE ENTIRE COUNTRY GOING
TO THINK.  
>> AND HOW ARE CONSUMERS GOING
TO REACT TO WHATEVER HAPPENINGS.  
>> EXACTLY.  
>> ALL THE UNKNOWNS AROUND
HEALTHCARE.
I PROVIDE HEALTH INSURANCE FOR
MY STAFF.
SO THERE'S THIS VAST AMOUNT OF
KNOWLEDGE AND PREPATORY STUFF
THAT'S GOT TO HAPPEN SO QUICKLY.
WE'RE REALLY WATCHING THAT
CLOSELY.
AND THEN JUST, FOR US, THE
WINTER, WE HAVE TO KEEP THE
WINTER SOLID.
WE ARE CURIOUS AS TO WHAT KIND
OF SNOW YEAR IT IS.
>> WEATHER PLAYS A HUGE ROLE.
FISCAL CLIFF, TWO WORDS PEOPLE
ARE HEARING A LOT ABOUT.
STILL A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY
WHETHER OR NOT THE PRESIDENT
WILL REACH A DEAL WITH CONGRESS.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN WITH TAXES,
WHAT COULD HAPPEN WITH FUNDING.  
WHAT ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT WITH
THE CONCERN WITH THE
UNCERTAINTY?
>> WELL, YOU KNOW, CONSUMERS
HAVE BEEN PRETTY RESILIENT IN
THE PAST FEW YEARS, BUT CONSUMER
CONFIDENCE IS A FUNNY THICK.
-- THING.
CONSUMERS BASE THEIR
CONFIDENTIAL ON HOW THEY ARE
FEELING TODAY AND HOW THEY SEE
THE FUTURE.
SO THERE'S NOTHING DEFINITE TO
SUGGEST THAT SOMETHING BAD WILL
HAPPEN WITH THE FISCAL CLIFF,
BUT WE SEE HOW QUICKLY THE STOCK
MARKET CAN REACT TO SOMETHING
LIKE THAT AND CONSUMERS CAN
REACT AS QUICKLY IF THEY GET
NERVOUS AND BECOME UNCERTAIN
ABOUT THEIR OWN UNEMPLOYMENT --
EMPLOYMENT SITUATION OR THEIR
FAMILY.  
>> IS THAT TOUGH?
WHAT DO YOU TELL YOUR MEMBERS,
BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY CAN'T DO
ANYTHING ABOUT A FISCAL CLIFF,
THEY CAN'T REALLY DO ANYTHING
ABOUT A RECESSION.
HOW DOES A BUSINESS PERSON THINK
ABOUT THAT TO PREPARE FOR
UNCERTAINTY?
>>
>> WE GET BACK TO THAT
CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC.
YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE FRAME OF
MIND TO BE A RETAILER THAT YOU
HAVE TO KIND OF MOVE FORWARD,
YOU KNOW, YOU'RE MAKING
DECISIONS ABOUT, YOU KNOW,
INVENTORY FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON
MONTHS IN ADVANCE.
SO YOU REALLY HAVE TO BELIEVE IN
THE FUTURE AND HOPE FOR THE
BEGS.  
>> YOU HAD MENTIONED THAT
VERMONT HASN'T REALLY SEEN THOSE
MAJOR SWINGS AND UPS AND DOWNS
DURING THE RECESSION, AND MARC
HAD MENTIONED THE GIFT BASKET.
IS PART OF THE REASON VERMONT
HAS SUCH A, YOU KNOW, BRAND, IF
YOU WILL, ACROSS THE COUNTRY,
NOT JUST HERE IN THE STATE?
>> THERE IS CERTAINLY A FAIR
NUMBER OF RETAILERS WHO BRAND
THE VERMONT IDENTITY IS SO
IMPORTANT.
IF YOU LOOK AT GARDENERS SUPPLY,
ANY LARGE GROWING COMPANIES THAT
HAVE A VERY STRONG CATALOG AND
ONLINE PRESENCE, AND THAT'S
REALLY BEEN PART OF VERMONT
BRAND.
I THINK MARC SELLS SO MANY OF
THOSE SMALL VERMONT SPECIALTY
FOODS, WHICH ARE GROWING IN
POPULARITY AS WELL.  
>> IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE SEEING?
>> ABSOLUTELY.
EXPANDED OUR FOODS IN THE LAST
TWO YEARS.
A LOT MORE, YOU KNOW, MOM AND
POP STARTING SOMETHING OUT OF
THEIR OWN KITCHEN, AND THEY GET
IT CERTIFIED, GET LABELING
STARTED AND THEY COME OUT IN THE
MARKETPLACE.
WE'VE PICKED UP A LOT OF NEW
VENDORS, AND SOME OF THEM BECOME
SUCCESSFUL AND GROW, AND SOME OF
THEM FADE AWAY.
BUT THERE'S A LOT OF ACTIVITY IN
SPECIALTY FOODS.
>> ARE YOU MARKETING TO LOCAL
PEOPLE, OR IS THIS STRICTLY
TOURISTS WHO ARE COMING IN TO
BUY THE VERMONT BRAND?
>> PREDOMINANTLY TOURISTS, BUT
THE HOLIDAYS, THAT'S WHEN WE GET
OUR LOCALS IN TO THE STORE AND
SPECIAL AT THIS FOODS ARE HUGE
THEN.
>> WHAT DO THEY SAY, WHAT IS THE
REASON BEHIND BUYING VERMONT?
>> PART OF THAT IS THE FEEL
GOOD, THEY KNOW THEY ARE
SUPPORTING NEIGHBORS, AND
ESPECIALLY IN ALBAMARLE COUNTY,
THERE ARE SEVERAL VENDORS AND
OPPORTUNITIES TO SEE THEM AT
CRAFT SHOWS AND TO SEE THE
PRODUCERS AT CRAFT SHOWS AND
FOOD SHOWS.
WHEN THEY COME TO THE STORE AND
SEE THE SAME PRODUCT, THEY KNOW
THEY'VE MET SOMEONE THAT MADE
THAT PRODUCT.
IT'S THE LOCAL CONNECTION.  
>> WHAT ABOUT THE ROLE OF
CANADIANS, THAT HAS EBBED AND
FLOWED AS THE VALUE OF THE
DOLLAR AS CHANGED.  
WHAT ARE WE SEEING?
>> CANADIANS ARE VERY, VERY
IMPORTANT, AND THEY HAVE BEEN
FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS.
THEY COME DOWN AND SHOP
EXTENSIVELY IN CHITTENDEN COUNTY
AND STOWE.
THE CANADIAN DOLLAR IS AT ABOUT
PAR RIGHT NOW.
VERY INTERESTING, BACK TO
DARREN'S QUESTION, THE CHURCH
STREET MARKETPLACE FOLKS HAVE
DONE A LOT OF RESEARCH IN THE
CANADIAN VISITORS, AND SO MUCH
OF WHAT THEY TALK ABOUT IS THE
VERMONT EXPERIENCE.
COMING DOWN TO SHOP AND KIND OF
LOCAL COMMUNITIES, AND REALLY
GET AGO FEEL FOR VERMONT.  
>> HOW DOES VERMONT MAKE SURE IT
STAYS RELEVANT AS, YOU KNOW, YOU
SEE THIS BIG BOX STORE, PEOPLE
SHOPPING, THE DEALS.
HOW DO SMALL VERMONT BUSINESSES
IN DOWNTOWNS LIKE MARC'S STAY
RELEVANT WITH ALL THAT GOING ON?
>> I THINK THAT THEY HAVE TO
IDENTIFY A NICHE IN THEIR
IDENTITY THAT WORKS WITH
CONSUMERS.
ONE THING MARC AND I HAVE TALKED
ABOUT, VERY MANY OF HIS BRANDS
AREN'T AVAILABLE NATIONALLY, BUT
THERE ARE VERY SUCCESSFUL
DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES THAT SELL
NORTHFACE JACKETS AND
EVERYTHING, AND THAT'S REALLY
ABOUT CONNECTING WITH THE
COMMUNITY.
WHETHER A COMMUNITY OF
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIERS, OR SKIERS
BECAUSE THERE'S SO MANY INTEREST
GROUPINGS IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES
THAT YOU CAN CONNECT WITH AND
KIND OF, YOU KNOW, PUT YOURSELF
FORWARD WITH.
>> A LOT OF US STILL HAVE A LOT
OF SHOPPING TO DO.
I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU GUYS, BUT
I HAVE BARELY STARTED.
>> I THINK I RECALL YOU ARE ONE
OF THOSE LAST-MINUTE PANIC
SHOPPERS.  
>> YES.
>>> LOOKING FOR SOME TIPS, WHAT
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO CONSUMERS
AS THEY ARE READY TO FINALLY
BRAVE IT AND GO OUT AND DO
SHOPPING, WHAT SHOULD WE BE
DOING?
>> I GUESS A COUPLE OF THINGS.
I ASSUME YOU'VE DONE SOME
RESEARCH ON WHAT YOUR FRIENDS
AND FAMILY MIGHT BE INTERESTED
IN.
GIFT CARDS, IF YOU DON'T KNOW,
THAT'S ALWAYS A GREAT OPTION,
AND LARGE AND SMALL STORES ALIKE
HAVE GIFT CARDS.
THAT'S ONE WAY TO EASILY SOLVE
YOUR PROBLEM.
BUT THE OTHER THING IS TO PLAN
AHEAD AND TO THINK ABOUT WHAT
KIND OF PRODUCT DO I WANT, IS
THIS LOCAL EXPERIENCE GOING TO
BE RELEVANT TO THE PERSON THAT
I'M GIVING TO.
THE IDEA OF A LOCAL GIFT BASKET,
YOU KNOW, IF SOMEONE IS A
VERMONTER WHO FEELS THAT'S AN
IMPORTANT PART OF THE IDENTITY,
MAYBE SOMETHING LOCAL IS IS A
WONDERFUL GIFT.  
>> AND ARE THERE -- ASIDE FROM
USING YOUR SMARTPHONES AND DOING
SOME RESEARCH PRIOR, WHAT ARE
OTHER WAYS PEOPLE CAN GET THE
MOST BANG FOR THEIR BUCK?
>> CERTAINLY RESEARCH, AND
EVEN -- WE CONTINUE TO ENCOURAGE
PEOPLE TO SHOP IN STORES RATHER
THAN ONLINE, BUT ONLINE IS A
GREAT PLACE TO DO RESEARCH, TO
FIND OUT WHAT IS OUT THERE, AND
SOME IDEAS.
I MEAN, I USUALLY KNOW WHAT TO
GET MY SON, BUT I'VE BEEN
GOOGLING GIFTS FOR COLLEGE
STUDENTS, JUST BECAUSE I'VE RUN
OUT OF IDEAS.
SO, YEAH, IT CAN HELP YOU OUT.  
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT HEADING INTO
LEGISLATIVE SESSION.
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOUR
GROUP IS GOING TO BE LOOKING
FOR, ANY SORT OF CHANGES TO HELP
MAKE DOING BUSINESS IN
MONTPELIER AND ACROSS THE STATE
EASIER?
>> WELL, WE HAVE A VERY DIVERSE
MEMBERSHIP OF BOTH VERY LIBERAL
AND VERY CONSERVATIVE MEMBERS,
SO THAT'S ALWAYS INTERESTING FOR
US, AND PUTTING TOGETHER OUR
POLICY.  
>> HEALTHCARE PLATFORM.  
>> BUT A HEALTHCARE PLATFORM HAS
REALLY BECOME REALLY HELPING OUR
MEMBERS UNDERSTAND WHAT'S
HAPPENING WITH HEALTHCARE
REFORM.
THERE IS AN INTERESTING PIECE IN
THE WASHINGTON POST TODAY ABOUT
HOW SO MANY CITIZENS DON'T
REALLY UNDERSTAND THE REFORMS
AND DON'T KNOW WHAT'S COMING
DOWN THE ROAD.
I THINK THERE IS STILL A VERY
BIG INFORMATION GAP FOR VERMONT
BUSINESS PEOPLE AND
UNDERSTANDING WHAT'S COMING WITH
THE HEALTHCARE EXCHANGE AND WHAT
KIND OF DECISIONS THEY NEED TO
MAKE.
WE WOULD REALLY LIKE TO HELP
THEM ALONG WITH THAT.
>> IS THAT A CHAL HE CAN AS A
BUSINESS OWNER -- CHALLENGE TO
KEEP ON TOP OF?
>> ABSOLUTELY.
WHEN YOU THROW IN SOMETHING THIS
MAJOR ON TOP OF THE DAILY
OPERATIONS OF BUSINESS, IT ALL
COMPETES FOR THE OWNER'S TIME,
BUT THIS IS IS A BIG ENOUGH
ISSUE, IT HAS BECOME PART OF THE
FOREFRONT FOR ANY OF US, I WOULD
THINK.
>> WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR OUT
OF MONTPELIER YOURSELF AS A
BUSINESS OWNER, ANYTHING IN
PARTICULAR YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE
AN ISSUE ADDRESSED?
>> UM, FOR ONE WE WOULD LIKE TO
JUST MAKE SURE WE HAVE ACCESS,
AND YOU CAN GO DOWN THERE,
INDIVIDUALLY OR AS A GROUP,
VERMONT RETAIL ASSOCIATION, AT
LEAST FEEL WE'RE HEARD AND WE
CAN PARTICIPATE.
WE'VE HAD SOME DISCUSSIONS ON
ADVOCATING FOR SALES TAX HOLIDAY
THIS YEAR.
WE HAVE SEVERAL MEMBERS THAT SAW
A REAL JUMP IN SALES, AND IN
FACT DOCUMENTED IT WELL ENOUGH
THAT IT WASN'T JUST PEOPLE
DEFERRING SALES, BUT THEY
ACTUALLY -- THE STORES SAW AN
INCREASE FOR THE ENTIRE MONTH,
BUT THE SALES TAX HOLIDAY HAD A
LARGE IMPACT.  
>> DID IT IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS?
>> FOR US, BECAUSE WE'RE
PRIMARILY FOODS AND APPAREL, WE
DON'T HAVE A LOT OF TAXABLE
ITEMS, BUT IT CERTAINLY -- THERE
IS THAT PSYCHOLOGY, THOUGH, I
THINK IN ALL CONSUMERS, THE IDEA
TO SAVE THE SALES TAX FOR ONE
DAY OR TWO-DAY HOLIDAY, EEL --
REALLY MOTIVATES THEM TO COME
OUT AND MAKE THOSE PURCHASES,
EITHER NECESSARY OR TO TREAT
THEMSELVES, PERHAPS.  
>> NOW, WITH CREDIT CARD FEES,
THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS
BEING LOOKED AT IN MONTPELIER.
WHAT IS THE LATEST ON THAT?
>> WELL, AS YOU KNOW, VERMONT
WAS THE FIRST STATE IN THE
COUNTRY TO PASS LEGISLATION ON
CREDIT CARD FEES, AND JUST A
REMINDER FOR THE VIEWERS OUT
THERE, THAT CONSUMERS, WHEN YOU
GO TO A STORE, AND USE A CREDIT
CARD OR A DEB I HAD CARD --
DEBIT CARD, THE STORE IS CHARGED
A 2, 3, OR EVEN 5% KNEE FOR THE
USE OF THAT -- FEE FOR THE USE
OF THAT CARD.
YOU KNOW, MANY OF THE REWARDS
CARDS HAVE THE HIGHER FEES, SO
IT IS ONE OF THE LARGEST COSTS
THAT RETAILERS FACE, AND IT IS
VERY SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE FOR
RETAILERS.
AND SMALL RETAILERS REALLY FEEL
LIKE THEY HAVE NO CONTROL OVER
THOSE COSTS.
SO THERE WAS LEGISLATION PASSED
AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL TO COAL --
CONTROL DEBIT CARD FEES, BUT WE
HAVEN'T REALLY ADDRESSED CREDIT
CARD FEE IN ANY SIGNIFICANT WAY.
WE HAVE BEEN TAKING ON THE
RULES, WHICH WAS A HUGE STEP,
AND VERMONT WAS VERY ACTIVE IN
THAT.
BUT THERE'S STILL A LONG WAY TO
GO.
>> IS THAT A CONCERN FOR YOUR
BUSINESS?
>> ABSOLUTELY.  
THOSE CREDIT CARD FEES COSTS
TEBS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS --
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR
YEAR.
IT IS FRUSTRATING BECAUSE
THERE'S VERY LITTLE CONTROL ON
MY SIDE OF THE EQUATION.
THOSE FEES ARE DICTATED TO US.
SO IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE
MANAGE THOSE, BUT ALSO THAT WE
MONITOR THE PROGRESS, I GUESS,
WITH HOW THIS MIGHT SETTLE OUT
FOR CONTROLLING THOSE.
THAT'S ALL THE TIME WE HAVE.
MARC STOWE WITH -- MRASHG
SHERMAN, AND TASHA WALLIS, THANK
YOU FOR THE PROGNOSIS AS WE HEAD
INTO THIS VERY BUSY TIME.  
>> WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME.
>> THANK YOU.  
>> THANKS TO YOU AT HOME FOR
WATCHING.
HAVE A GREAT, I GUESS BEGINNING
TO THE HOLIDAY SEASON, AND GOOD
LUCK SHOPPING OUT THERE.
>> GOOD LUCK, EVERYBODY, SEE YOU
SOON!  
>> TAKE CARE.
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