We were struck by comments from folks for whom "back-to-school" is more than just a season.
Look what a state superintendent of public instruction* had to say about the upcoming school year.
- "The sheer burnout of the last two years caught up with everybody."
- "But out of that came a genuine assessment of what matters most."
Lots of retailers can identify with those comments, don't you agree?
Or, these observations about the disruptions and uncertainties of the pandemic:
- "Now we can spend a lot less time on health protocols and being sort of front-line public health administrators." (Hear! Hear!)
- And that means more time to focus "on getting into a normal routine and lowering the anxiety of the unknown."
Yes, it wasn't just retailers who had to be de facto public health enforcers. Now, in their classrooms, teachers are eager to focus on a normal routine and "lowering the anxiety of the unknown."
Similarly, retailers need to be aware that some customers may be yearning for normal routines and less uncertainty. Not to mention your staff, in many cases.
All are looking to you and your stores for dependability and reliability; for leadership.
That's a big responsibility!
- This is the time to reinforce and communicate your values, the authenticity of your operation, your respect for the communities you serve.
In other words, summon your optimism! And again, consider the example of this public official.
He laments how the pandemic offered no other choice than just reacting, a relentless whack-a-mole experience. And celebrates that those days are now behind us!
- "This is the start of something really refreshing, as opposed to always reactionary, which has been the case for the last three years."
"The start of something really refreshing." Yes indeed.
And maybe the next time you're in need of some fresh ideas for your stores, reach outside your usual business pals. Have a chat with a school teacher! It's never too late to go to school on them!
* "Chris Reykdal, Washington’s top education leader on this school year’s opportunities and challenges," Jeanie Lindsay, Seattle Times, September 6, 2022