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December 2014 | Vol. XIII - No. 12
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5 tips for keeping your cool when the weather gets cold

These 5 retailing tips will help you manage stress during the busy holiday season


With additional reporting from Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero

The holiday season is upon us, and if you're like many U.S. retailers, you're expecting to make 20-40% of your yearly sales in the next few weeks alone.



This busy time of year is a rush, sure, but when the lines are reaching out the door, you're trapped behind a register and can't restock shelves, and cold weather and ice is turning people not-so-nice, things can start to feel overwhelming.

That's why TDmonthly Magazine asked a panel of retailers for their tips on staying calm and managing stress during the holiday season. Here's what they said.

1. Don't sweat the small stuff.

"Nothing is an emergency - don't stress the little things. If you forget to take off a price tag, it stinks, but it's not the end of the world.," David Stelzer, owner of Shananigans in Baltimore, Md., told us.


2. Eat, drink, and be merry.

Holiday shifts can be long and draining, with nary a chance to step off the sales floor. But it's important that you and your employees have time to take care of your basic needs.

"Be fed and watered constantly. Make sure staff is rested and has the proper amount of time off," Taka Andrews, owner of Millers Toys in Mamaronek, N.Y., suggested. You'll then be prepared to "Kill people with kindness, even if they piss you off. That's what I tell my staff!"

You can keep treats around for your staff, too. Sometimes a fun-sized candy cane is all that stands between a winning smile from your salesperson and a customer interaction gone awry.

"Have staff mini parties, with treats for the staff," Diane Gervais from Amato's Toy & Hobby in Middletown, Conn., told TDmonthly. "My 'elves' like the peppermint Hershey kisses, so there's always a stash behind the register."

"Feed your staff food they love," agrees Teresa Derry, owner of Annie's Toy Chest in Cocoa, Fla.

But don't just dole out sweets, which could leave your staff in a sugar crash down the road. Paula Bolte, owner of Imaginations Toy & Furniture Co. in Blacksburg, Va., told us that her strategy is "Eating well, and trying to control sugar. Eat a really great breakfast." She also makes sure to keep vitamins and health drinks on hand for all employees.

3.  Take a break.

Taking a vacation right before or right after the holidays can keep you feeling refreshed and ready to handle whatever comes your way.

When Tye Steinbach of Thinker Toys in Portland, Ore., recently celebrated their store's 20th anniversary, "the employees and some friends sent me and my wife to a bed and breakfast before the holiday season. We came back feeling refreshed and ready for the holidays and very, very thankful for having great employees," he told TDmonthly.

Helen Santosuosso, owner of Village Toy Shop in North Easton, Mass., agrees. "Make sure you do Christmas things," she said. "Take a night off and do something to celebrate the holiday, rather than dread it...a night off can seem like a whole week off" during the busy holiday season, she pointed out.

You can take mini-vacations every day too, as a way to refocus and relax after a crazy day.

"For the first 1-2 hours after leaving the store, turn your cell phone off, and don't read your e-mail or do anything work related," David Castillo, vice president of The Red Balloon Toy Store in Salt Lake City, Utah advised.

4.  Stay organized, and stay ahead of the clock.

"Do everything as early as possible, such as window displays and advertising," Diane from Amato's Toy & Hobby suggested.

"Don't try to tackle any other big projects, professionally or personally," Paula from Imaginations Toy & Furniture advised. "It's toy time and that's it."

5.  Keep things in perspective - and have a sense of humor.

Don't let yourself lose sight of why you are in the toy business to begin with.

When it comes to dealing with holiday stress, "I drink a lot of wine!" joked Mary Porter Green, owner of Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va.. "I try to remember that I started this business to have fun," she continued, "and try to feed off the joy of all the wide-eyed kids. That puts it all in perspective."

Paula from Imaginations Toy & Furniture Co. has a similar outlook. "Eat, relax, and stay calm. How cool is it to help be Santa Claus?"

Looking for more holiday tips? Check out these retailing tips: 11 ways to thrive this holiday season



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Justina HuddlestonWriter's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author

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