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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Are consumers buying more?

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My wife and I went to Sam’s Wholesale Club Sunday and bought our weekly allotment of fruit. Sam’s has, in our opinion, the best fruit in Tulsa, Okla., and we like fruit for breakfast.

There were more people milling the aisles than I’ve seen for a while, since maybe late in 2007. One family balanced a 37-inch high-definitionTV on a cart, among other purchases, followed by another family with an identical cart and, coincidentally, the same big-screen television set on board. The big carts — not the lowly grocery carts but the wood-platform ones with big wheels and tires — were common in the cashier lines. People were buying not just food and staples; they were buying nonperishables and manufactured goods, besides the TVs. Shoppers needed the big carts.

Is this happening in your stores? So much of our economy is dependent on shoppers — the shopping thigh-bone is connected to the manufacturing hip-bone, so to speak. It was nice to see the buying activity. It was different.

Funny, isn’t it? A part of us wants to see saving continue; however, the economy needs a jolt of conspicuous consumption.

Signs for an improving market — the “green shoots” I keep writing about — seem to be more present, although I suspect this bull will have a correction or two along its path.

Drum Day

I stopped for an hour or so at Drum Day on Sunday. Drum Day is a charitable program that began in Tulsa some years ago and has spread to other communities. You have not experienced noise until you’ve heard hundreds of drummers playing the same beat at the same time.

This synchronization occurs in many cities at once by audio hook-up for a few minutes each hour. The rest of the time is disorganized chaos and great fun, aside from deafening volume. It also brings, literally, tons of food to community food banks. If 350 or more drummers bang away in Tulsa, how many must there be in L.A.? New York City? Chicago? That’s a lot of drums. That’s a lot of food for the needy, too.

Assistance League

After Drum Day, I drove home and collected my wife and we motored to the 40th anniversary of the Tulsa chapter of Assistance League, an organization that is 100% volunteer based and outfits school children who otherwise could not afford clothing. Each child is treated like a customer — actually nicer than I’m treated in most retail settings; you wouldn’t believe the volunteers’ care and skill — and the new clothing: six sets of underwear, pants, shoes, blouses, skirts, winter jackets; you name it. Believe it or not, Assistance League can completely outfit a school kid with new clothes for $68, and the Tulsa chapter helps 12 school districts.

Lynne and I were lucky enough to meet the woman today who with her husband gave Assistance League of Tulsa its building some years ago. Imagine giving an entire building and property, including parking spaces, debt free.

My wife, like everyone else at Assistance League, is a volunteer and helps run the retail store operation that directly benefits purchasing clothing. Assistance League is an operation run by women, some of the nicest in the world, and that would definitely include my wife. Husbands, fortunately, get to attend some functions, including the annual Christmas party.

Have a sensational week. Drum up business and do good work.

Check out more blog entries from Richard Hoe.


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