Retail Is Not Dead – Sharing True Stories of Hope For Retail Stores

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Looking for how to find hope for your retail business? You’ve come to the right place.

Many pundits are predicting the death of many retailers, so is there any hope for retail?


I’ve started a project called Hope for Retail. Each day, I pick a brand or major retailer and share a story of encouragement. With retailers responsible for at least one in four jobs in America, it is easy for people working in retail to be discouraged, especially those associates working in physical stores. With all the negative news around the category, you’re not alone. But you must have hope.

Exactly how can hope make a difference to you and your business? It gives you back control.

My story of finding hope

I struggled after I had quit my job at a retailer that I helped build from a handful of stores to the largest in the U.S. I left the company after 14 years, after I told one of the owners in a meeting that people were our most important asset and he said I was wrong.

I took some time off but floundered on what I wanted to do next. I had a very real fear that the only place for me was at another job in retail. I had felt hopeful when I walked out the door, but now my future felt daunting.

The story Tony Robbins shared

Lucky for me Tony Robbins was holding a live event at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. He relayed the story of a company that had struggled and struggled as their sales went down and down. The marketing guys had tried everything to boost sales of dried grapes but to no avail. In the ’70s, they had settled on the tagline, the natural snack, but soon, every other product said the same thing. All seemed lost.

That’s when one guy brought hope to the meeting. Seth Werner said, “We have tried everything but dancing raisins singing I Heard It Through the Grapevine." The idea was a hit, provided millions in additional revenue, and overcame people’s bad attitudes about raisins. At that point, he invited all four of the original cartoon characters on stage while the song played. Sales soared. Records were broken. And the characters made their albums.

Their story gave me hope as an entrepreneur struggling to overcome my fears of starting my business. Tony continued to talk about the power of goals and hope and added, “You better come up with a brand no one can do better.” When I got home, I filed the trademark for The Retail Doctor, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why is hope so important?

When you have hope, you are looking forward. You take comfort and gain energy in the feeling of potential.

How does hope feel?

It is a sense of anticipation, of possibility, of curiosity. It’s that feeling you had when you went for your first date, had your first interview for a job, stood at the altar of your wedding, or had your first child.

Maybe your rational self might have tried to say it might not work out, but your hope overtook that fear and moved forward. That’s what hope feels like; even when you might be scared or have some reservations, you move forward.

With bad news on constant replay highlighting what might be happening in the future, retailers can forget they are, by design, optimistic.

There’s never been certainty if who you hire will work out, that others will be willing to pay you for, or that your marketing message will get people to return more often or buy more in your store. Yet, you have chosen to hope that happens in your favor.

Otherwise, you’d never have opened a retail store, a Macy’s, a Nordstrom, or a Pottery Barn.

No, hope is not a strategy. You need to take actions towards making your dreams come true, but without hope, strategy is worthless.

My secret to finding hope is to force your brain to look at things in the past that you succeeded at, then remember them in detail, and do this regularly. This develops positive pathways in the brain that lead to good feelings and hope.

So how do you do that?

How to find hope at this time for your business.

  1. Remember when you first started your business, or if you work for a retailer, how you felt on that first day.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Visualize it.
  4. Step back into that time.
  5. Note any details of what you were wearing, what the room looks like, what others in the memory are looking at - the works.
  6. Note that sense of expectation, the feeling you had when you made a sale, exceeded your goals or made something happen.
  7. Stay there in that memory until you feel that sense of anticipation and hope.
  8. Keep your eyes closed and bring that same feeling from the past into the future.
  9. See your store as open. It’s busy. You’re smiling.
  10. Stay there in that vision as long as possible while still feeling hopeful.
  11. Open your eyes and take one action toward making that future happen.

The Hope For Retail Project

To help you find hope in your small business or retail store, I’m doing a live video highlighting one major retailer daily and sharing stories of purchases I’ve made with them over the years.

People who have discovered and purchased something new and interesting have a story about the product and the experience of discovering it.

I’m doing this daily to give hope to each employee who works for that brand. I want them to remember all their customers have stories and are eager to return to step into their curated world and discover something they hadn’t known they wanted. Yes, it is a project designed to spotlight large retailers due to their sheer number of furloughed employees.

I've covered department stores like Macy's and Nordstrom and boutiques like Allen Edmonds and Pottery Barn. Tune in this week as I add Ralph Lauren and Kiton.

You can watch any of them or all of them. You can also select individual retail brands at the bottom of this post. 

HOpeforretail you tube


If you work for one of these brands, feel free to share with your team. After all, that's the point: your customers are waiting to return. Join them in hope.

Where will the trend of looking for hope go from here?

You can do this yourself. Just find a brand you like. Remember a personal story about you as a shopper and how you purchased an item, then share it on your social media using the hashtag #hope4retail.

We can help lift the profile, the emotions, and the feelings of those working and shopping in physical retail if we just reorient our minds from fear and worry to hope.

In Sum

Finding hope isn’t hard for your retail business, but it does take practice.

It’s been said there is a highway to anxiety and fear and a dirt path to hope.

No news media can choose that path for you.

You have to do this for yourself.

And for your mind.

And for your survival in retail.

Let’s get busy finding hope.