Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cassie's Introduction

Here we have it. The General Merchandise Blog. Blog? I’ve heard the word. I know it is on the computer. I’ve heard my fellow 40ish year old moms talking about their teenagers “blogging” and trying to keep them away from it. I think they were talking about “myspace.com”. I just had to ask one of my student staff the name. I thought it was “myface.com”. Oh! She said there is “facebook.com”. No wonder I’m confused. I figure a lot of you will be confused too or a little unsure about this format. Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I’m pretty excited about being a contributor and catching up with the teenagers. For us, this blog is all business……fun business.

I am the manager of the Grinnell College Bookstore in the little rural Iowa town of Grinnell. I have been at this bookstore for over 18 years. I started in retail at a very young age when my mom joined a business to run the toy department. It was a family oriented business so they allowed me to join her after school. Before long they discovered how many grandmothers wanted my opinion! Soon, I was traveling with my mom to toy shows. I graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in Business Administration. I came here in 1988 after a stint in mall retail and before that a coming-of-age period in the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone where I actually learned a lot about resort retail. I was really there to be free and hike the wilderness.

That’s the abbreviated map that brings me to this wonderful, old, liberal arts school of 1500 traditionally aged, residential students from all over the United States and the world. In future blog posts, I want to tell you about our venture into non-imprinted gifts. I think this is a growth area for small stores like mine. I found out it is easy for a small store to do.

By the way, don’t expect my writing to be of the caliber to receive a prize. I am not a writer. I’m just talking here.

Cassie Wherry, CSP
Manager, Grinnell College Bookstore

Mark Patten / Introduction

Hello. I manage a college store. Actually 5 stores in a university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Land of the West Edmonton Mall, Hockey, snow, and oil workers. We’re hardy and a bit hip. I recently got my 10-year watch here at MacEwan. Which I wear ‘cus the battery on my other watch died and I’m too lazy to get it fixed. Before the watch, I worked at another college store in windy, “brokeback mountain” country. They never gave me a watch.

I love the world of retail. It wasn’t my plan, but the need for public policy consultants is slim and rarely rewarding.

I do fun things too.
- Avoiding my Mother’s advice to never trust an animal bigger than my head, I love my newfie / Lab, 80-pound canine. He is much bigger than my head but in a dufus, big-dog sorta way.
- I have two cats – One I picked up in a parking lot and another I have had for years that is curiously and dangerously closing in on the bigger than head rule.
- I love crap TV. – and really who doesn’t? Right now I am addicted to American Idol, always watch Survivor and Amazing Race and for a true train wreck you can’t miss the “Flavour of Love” dating show. For real fun I watch CNN and MSNBC and mutter to myself.
- My favorite music includes Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Mike Oldfield, Green Day, Pink Floyd, Scissor Sisters, Artic Monkeys, Rufus Wainwright, Franz Ferdinand, and on and on.
- My fav’ books include anything by Dave Eggers, “A Man” by Oriana Fallaci, and Don Quixote by Cervantes. I read all sorts of magazines for fun and profit.
- I’m available work days and most evenings if you know how to text message.
- Weekends I nap.

Enjoy the musings… .

Mark Patten
MacEwan Bookstores

Tony's Introduction

Hi, all. I'm Tony Ellis, NACS Director of Education. I work with the General Merchandise Committee and have a passion for retail. I'm going to serve as both a contributor to and administrator of The Retail Muse.

I tend to be a 50,000-foot kind of thinker. So many of my posts will likely be about trends and issues that are emerging in general retail. I'll try to always make that "college store connection," but feel free to post your comments to help make those connnections, as well.

My retail experience includes front-line and management in a general apparel store (think Gap, Old Navy, Express), bookstores, and several specialty retailers. I look forward to using this new medium to explore general merchandise in collegiate retail.

Tony Ellis, CAE
NACS Director of Education