Rena Tom Rena Tom

Retail Readiness: Twilight or Sunrise?

TL;DR: My next Retail Readiness workshop for the foreseeable future is June 8 in Los Angeles at Poketo. Beyond that, I don’t know. I tentatively wanted to get to Toronto and Vancouver to teach and check out the scene, but maybe I’ll develop an entirely different class or talk. It’s time to put this thing to bed and come up with something new. Now, if you want to know more, read on:

It’s a little startling to realize but I first started in retail eleven years ago. I had a web design background and just one summer slinging frozen yogurt behind me; you could say I jumped in rather blindly. At the time, most work was still sold in brick and mortar stores. Craft shows were rare and specialized, as was taking payments on the go. There were no smartphones; I had to order a “knuckle buster” to physically imprint credit cards. When’s the last time you had that kind of interaction?

I grew with the retail industry during a pivotal time. Direct sales because possible, then desired, then common, and now inevitable. This has changed the landscape dramatically, as has the ability for someone to set up their own online store with just a few clicks.

Despite all of this, retail is still an industry based on relationships. Technology has smoothed out some aspects, which is good, but also complicated others. Some relationships are much the same, but there are interesting nuances now to working with manufacturers, buyers, reps, showrooms and stores. New intermediate positions have been created (social media consultant, anyone?) and others have largely disappeared.

I will admit that I grew disenchanted with retail a few years ago. I still believe in makers and creators and collaborations. I still feel that retail stores can anchor a neighborhood and provide services beyond the merely transactional. I just couldn’t figure out my place within it anymore, and I wanted to expand my learning and research into areas that fundamentally questioned why making was important, the perceived value of an object, if there could be alternatives exchanging currency, and so on.

For three years, I have been teaching Retail Readiness to small groups, in person and online. I regretted that my reach was limited by my ability to travel, yet I firmly believed that “live” learning is best. I started transcribing the course into an ebook and then put it away, uncertain about myself and what I had to offer. Well, opinions evolve, and circumstances do, too. I still think teaching is a blast, and altering what I have to say according to the needs of the students. It is, however, not very practical. I’m older, I have Makeshift Society too, I have a child. Travel is now a ball of logistics to negotiate. Restricting teaching also limits my income, and is in a way not fair to the friends and followers I’ve made around the world. I don’t want to bottle up my knowledge, as imperfect as it may be. So I’ve dusted off the ebook and am wrestling it into final form. It will be a PDF, and maybe in other formats if I can figure out how to set that up easily.

It won’t be perfect. It won’t offer all the solutions to your problems. But it will reflect what I know, what I’ve learned over the last decade, and what I believe in. The Table of Contents, which is 90% set, is below. It’s a pretty dense read but I think it’ll be worth your while. Details (and a discount for you, if you’ve read this far) very soon, I PROMISE.

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  1. Rena, this book looks like fabulous information! I’m glad you are willing to share in an ebook. Any hobby that turns into a retail business needs a good reference resource like this. I’m excited for you to finish it.

  2. Lisa says:

    Hi Rena,
    I agree, this book looks fabulous and along with an ebook you might consider self-publishing a print book, as I haven’t seen this topic covered much. And you never know who might see it and want to publish larger quantities.. If you want to get quotes – surprisingly affordable too! – here’s a website:
    for a quick online quote. (full disclosure: I work in marketing here! – We do great books though!)

  3. Crystal says:

    Looks amazing!! Can’t wait to get the entire thing!

  4. Rena,
    I’m so happy you are doing this – it will greatly expand your reach and give you more leverage. There are a lot of makers out here who this will help. Congrats! I know it’s a big push!

  5. Lisa says:

    Rena, I can’t wait for the book! Please notify me when it is done. You should also look at Skillshare or maybe as a way to teach it.

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