Lessons Learned


Lessons Learned in Retail Management

Jeannie Bruenning

Managers are the heart, the soul and the brains of any retail operation.

Lessons Learned in Retail Management breaks down the manager’s role in four parts: the importance of understanding financials, the skills needed to manage employees, finding the lost art of customer service, and the importance of personal development. Twenty-five years in the making, it contains successful tools for building strong foundations and turning stores around.
Whether you are on the first rung of the ladder or feel as if you’re stuck somewhere in the middle, Lessons Learned in Retail Management is a primer in basic retail management and provides tools to help you continue to climb and reach the next rung.

Available through Amazon or www.asilverthread.com



I am forever finding notebooks, file folders and binders containing stories that I’ve written. One such notebook surfaced a short time ago. As I sat reading the short stories about managers I’ve worked with, stores I’ve run and businesses I’ve been involved with, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t time to put together that business book on management I promised myself I would write some day.

Shortly after this discovery, a rare job opportunity crossed my path. The job itself was not rare, it was managing a retail store. The rarity was the fact that in our little beach town of 8,000 people, of which 4,000 consider this their vacation home, there is an outlet mall a half-mile from my home with real stores; store that you would find in the big city, not in a beach town in the middle of nowhere.

The job posting was for an appeal store. I had never managed an appeal store. The thought of it actually made me laugh. Managing a store whose clientele would be 99.9% female, a staff that would most likely be women and telling others how to dress, not on my bucket list. The fact that I’ve always said I would never want to work anywhere where they had to deal with hangers and folding stuff also came to mine. But it was retail. I know retail and it could be fun writing a book while testing my theories in real time. This could be a great gig, half-mile from home, no late nights or early mornings; I could play the role of shop girl while writing my book.

During the interview I was told that the store was in trouble. It had experienced a constant decline in sales, BUT the potential was there (they always say that!). I confidently said that taking over stores in trouble never bothered me; in fact, most of my career has been about turning stores around. I got the job and started just before Christmas.

By the end of week one, we had already begun to see an increase in sales. By the end of the first quarter we were everyone’s radar. By the end of the year we had won a number of sales contests, hit the top 5 store lists on numerous occasions and solidified our standing in the top 20 store of the entire company. I actually received the “Best of the Best” award. Now, I’ve been saying it for years but to have someone else actually put it on a plaque, somehow makes it complete.

Us, the store in the little beach town had risen to the top. Come to find out, this store had not only been in trouble, it was on the chopping block. The lease was up, it was under-performing, and plans were in place for its’ closing. No wonder we were on the radar, we had not only gone from bad to good, we had gone from dead to great! So much for flying under the radar.

Year two rolled around and I finished Lessons Learned in Retail Management. “Thank goodness that year is over,” I thought. “This year will be my year out of the spot light; just run the store, have fun and get that book published.” My little shop around the corner is booming. As much as I want to say I would love to walk away, my curiosity is engaged; just how far can this store go?

Lessons Learned (while climbing the apparently never-ending ladder of success) in Retail Management is just that, lessons learned. For over 25 years I’ve been managing something. Most of my experience has been in retail, but not all. The bottom line is – managing is managing. The stage may change, the cast of characters may differ, the product sold may vary, but in the end it’s the same movie.

Managers are the heart and brains of a store, without them there is no life. It’s a tough job and a tough way to make a living, but anyone who has ever walked into a store to place an order or make a purchase is dependent on them. Without them, our consumer driven world would collapse.

Lessons Learned in Retail Management breaks down the manager’s role in four parts: the importance of understanding financials, the skills needed in managing people, finding the lost art of customer service, and the importance of personal development. Its 25 years in the making and has proven to be a successful tool for turning stores around, building strong foundations and becoming a successful manager – no matter how tall the ladder of success may be.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.