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The "Village Idiot" Management Theory & More

Saturday, May 2, 2009


How in the world could a "village idiot" be the secret to keeping your store looking fresh and fabulous for customers? Chris Hite, principal of Texas-based HITE advertising and brand consulting, discusses a management theory that will give you renewed perspective for every season of the sales year:

There's a management theory called the "village idiot" that says you need to bring in an outsider to get his or her point of view. Ask someone who is not an expert in the retail field to point out the obvious and give fresh perspective from season to season. If you don't think an outsider's opinion is right, ask others. If three people give the same perspective, there must be something to their observations.

I like to look to national retailers for inspiration. These are great retailers like Ralph Lauren, Starbucks, Target, Neiman Marcus, Crate & Barrel and IKEA. See what you can learn at the macro level and apply it in a micro level in your store. That's the challenge.

Small retailers are good at doing competitive shopping against their direct competitors. You need to shop for inspiration when you're in other markets, and with businesses that are not in direct competition with you. For example, study grocery stores. They change their end caps to keep their stores fresh and drive sales.

Hite can be reached at

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In This Month's

  • Summer/Seasonal
  • Message Gifts
  • Stationery Accessories
  • Non-Jar Candles
  • T-shirts
  • Fashion Accessories
  • Reorders
  • Personal Care

While coloring books and related products were all the rage in Stationery Accessories last year, this year it's back to basics: note cards, journals and planners.

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