Portland Gift Show

Let's Make Business Personal Again!
Yep, that's me, up there on my soapbox again...
I mean, really, how many times can we hear "It's not personal, it's just business" before we just GAG? We all know that phrase is fulla' bull. If it's your small business, then ALL of it is personal. Right?

So, my seminar concept was let's take our small businesses - retail shops, service providers, product manufacturers - and personalize them. By doing so, you'll make a personal connection with your customers, and you'll succeed. And really, who wants to be the same as every other shop in town??!!!

My seminar titles was officially 'Store Design - Tell Your Story', so I explained the wine industry concept of Terrior, and talked about how that 'Pride of Place' can translate into your entire environment to tell your story. You do that by using color, texture, materials, style, and appropriate choices to express the values, mission, and purpose of your business. The two stage displays shown here morphed a bit throughout the presentation to illustrate the concepts. I discussed store layout, flow, displays, zone concept, web presence, and more. It all related to the visual impact your business has.

I am so blessed to have had exhibitors at the show who allowed me to use and promote their products in these displays. They are generous, giving, and ready to help others. People are wonderful, you know? And it really is ALL about people!

Retail is not about products and merchandise and displays - retail is about connecting with people. Designers & Manufacturers connect with buyers. Shops & Stores connect with their customers, and help their customers connect with other people through the products they buy. Delighted gift recipients connect with the giver and with the store that provided the gift. It's so simple - a 'circle of life' kind of thing. I think that especially in the face of never-ending reports on a failing economy, we tend to forget the purpose of what we are doing in retail.

I also connected with wonderful attendees at my seminar - many of whom joined me for an impromptu 'after party' when I led a walking tour on the show floor as soon as I wrapped the stage presentation. We moved at a pretty fast clip, visiting booths that I thought were great examples of expressing the story of the products. This translates into telling a story in your store - something all of the 'tourists' loved. Some booths feature displays that can be duplicated down to the last detail in any store, to maximize the presence of the merchandise. They are giving you tools to succeed - FREE! Again, it's all in the concept of 'connecting' with one another. Alone, we may not make it. Together? We all succeed!

My heart is truly in helping small businesses succeed. And no offense, guys, but women entrepreneurs are my soul sisters. Designers, handcrafters, artists, independent manufacturers who are creating jobs and contributing to their communities and local economy - oh, I just have SO much respect for these courageous people. And I have no doubt, after meeting and talking with some of them this past weekend, that THEY will be the big successes that show up on Oprah and Donny Deutsch and in glossy magazines very soon.

With quite a story to tell...


  1. Sounds like a great seminar. Sorry I missed it.

  2. Anonymous12:11 PM

    Looks like fun but you could please, please, please, not use those 'angled' photos - - it's distracting and makes everything look like it is on the set of "The Titanic"

  3. I'm sorry those angled photos bother you, 'anonymous' - but here on my blog, it's all about creative artistic freedom! Personally, I think always using squared, straight-on photos lacks energy and dynamic. Some of the photos in this post were angled, but not all of them, so it's really not THAT bad - unless you suffer from vertigo?! ;0)

    Besides, dear Mr. Deb had to hold the camera waaaaay up above his head to get those shots while we were all walking...and he wasn't really thinking about camera angles at the time.

    I do love comments - I'd just love it if commenters would be kind enough to leave their names...back to the 'making it personal' concept!

  4. Hi Deb, Wish I could have been at the show. You aren't coming to Atlanta in July, are you? I need to just make one big pilgrimage to the west coast and visit all the people who inspire me!!

    By the way, I happen to love the angled photos. It makes things interesting. Tell Mr. Deb thanks for documenting for us.

  5. Just found your blog from Heather at Present Past and I love it! YOu are a breath of fresh air. Exactly what we all need in this industry. I love your encouraging words. Thank you. Tricia S.

  6. Let me know if you are ever in the Phoenix area. I would love to hear you speak.