Thirty-three years. Neither one of us thought
that the first time we walked onstage to present our very first “Retail Adventures in the REAL World” presentation in Boston,
Massachusetts that it actually would be the first of many. For that matter who
knew that “professional speaker” was a real job? Back then neither one of us
could have imagined we’d end up here. But here we are.
Thirty-three years is a long time. Those
few times we’ve been brave enough to watch the video of our first presentation (we
paid a local guy with a video camera $400. Smart, huh?) we see two very young people
we still resemble. Georganne has some BIG 80s hair, BIG glasses and BIG
shoulder pads. Everything was big back then. And she’s wearing a red suit – the
first of many – that hangs at the back of her closet in hopes that one day
she’ll be able to button it once again. (Update: It fits!) And aside from the
beard that he grew around 1993, Rich looks pretty much the same. The man
doesn’t age. George swears that Rich has a portrait in his closet that gets
older while he stays the same.
On our bulletin board hangs a clip from a
1987 Craftrends article entitled “In Praise of a Partner”. written by Linda Queen
and Wanda Zeagler in this very magazine. It reads: “Many of you don’t have
partners. That’s fine if it works for you. You obviously are not among the ‘Shared
Brain People’ who inhabit this Earth. We are and we are very comfortable, each
of us, with our own portions of our brains.” Some people who read that quote
don’t understand it, but we do, and that’s all that counts.
Partnership is a cool thing. Just in case
you didn’t know, but were curious, we are married. Happily. Just not to each
other. As of 2023, Rich and Diana have been married for almost 50 years, and Georganne and
Rob have been married for 44 years. George’s kids (and now grandkids) have
never known a world without Uncle Rich and Aunt Diana. George loves to talk
about the first time Uncle Rich took then five year old Kate, and three year
old John, to Toy’s ‘R Us, and told them they could have anything they wanted. Of
course, they went straight for the $2000 motorized cars. It took a lot of
convincing to redirect their attention to the coloring books.
We’re polar opposites. Our offices have always been big rectangles that
look more like living rooms than offices. Rich’s workspace is always a creative
mess. George’s looks neat as long as you don’t open her desk drawers. Rich is a
Type A personality who is always thinking of our next big move. George is also
a Type A, but she’s responsible for the details, figuring out how to make that
“next big thing” actually happen. Rich’s
brain never turns off. George flips hers
off like a light switch the second she stops work for the day. Rich prefers to focus
on one thing at a time; George is the queen of multi-tasking.
In that first presentation we called ourselves
“Retail Pathologists” because back then we studied the bones of dead companies
to see what went wrong. We learned a lot and shared a lot and tried to help
retailers avoid the same pitfalls. But studying dead and dying companies was
just too depressing so we took another path. When a reporter at the Las Vegas
Review Journal dubbed us “Consumer Anthropologists” we ran with it. Studying
shoppers is so much more fun.
We’re grateful to everyone who continue to help us along our journey, and we are thankful to all the retailers who call us to
share their wonderful stories or seek our advice. We started our RetailAdventures blog in 2005 at the request of a group of retailers at the
MemoryTrends Expo in Las Vegas. Today, it is read by tens of thousands each month, from all over
So, you want some business advice from a
couple of entrepreneurs who have been around the block a few times? Here
Don’t think you can wait until tomorrow to
do whatever is important to you today. That opportunity will pass; your kids
will only be little once; your significant other deserves your attention, and
your dog needs to be walked. Your business is important, but don’t let it be
everything. Find what makes you happy. If you like teaching classes, teach
classes. If you like playing with displays on your sales floor, then go for it.
If you don’t like doing something you won’t do it well. Find someone else who
can do it for you.
Take a look at where you are today and
where you’d like to be tomorrow. Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty
fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Sage advice no matter what anniversary you are celebrating.
See you on the road, hopefully at your next
Georganne & Rich