Lessons Learned from a Taco Trailer

Welcome to El Parasol!


I’ve discovered throughout my life, every family is different. In fact, one of the life lessons we tried to teach our children was that “Every Family Is Weird” and especially OURS! This was to prepare them for life and eventually marriage to someone from another family that has its own idiosyncrasies, and also to save us from embarrassment when they were little.

Road Trips
One thing our weird family enjoys is Road Trips, and as small business owners, we have always done our best to support local restaurants, both at home and on a road trip, along with staying at local hotels, and shopping at local businesses. Our track record with choosing local is pretty good as most local businesses cannot survive if they are not doing things right…at least they don’t survive for very long!

Keeping it Local
We have found that the very best place to find out where the stellar local eateries are is to stop at a fruit stand.  As the owners of fruit stands are the same people who supply restaurants with FRESH produce, these people have an inside track to the very best locally owned restaurants, and they know “fresh & local” like no one else!  This is exactly how we arrived at El Parasol in Espanola, New Mexico many years (and many road trips) ago.

Introduction to El Parasol
Now, El Parasol is not somewhere you would choose from it’s elegant exterior.  It is an 8’ x 10’ Taco Trailer that has somehow that has been serving local and regional visitors for over 50 years now. The food is amazing, the service extraordinary and this tiny Taco Trailer is legendary.

Podcast 009: TJ Reid ~ The FASHION Advantage

“So glad you’re here!”

With her warm southern accent and lady-like charm shining through, this is the way today’s guest, TJ Reid, greets store owners as they arrive at one of her many seminars across the country. Today, I am excited to introduce you to a woman who is one of America’s most knowledgeable experts on the topics of fashion retail, small business, promotions, advertising, and customer service.

Fashion AdvantageT.J. Reid has commanded over 2,000 successful workshops, written many best-selling retail business books, and is now Editor/Publisher of FASHION ADVANTAGE, the only magazine for small specialty stores, in its 26th year of publication with thousands of readers throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. FASHION ADVANTAGE is considered “The voice of today’s small retailer.”

I have personally been a long time subscriber to Fashion Advantage and read each issue from cover to cover.  TJ’s knowledge and hands-on advice comes from her over 50 years of experience (she started very young!) in this industry as a small store owner, QVC on-air personality, buyer, accessory designer, sales trainer, special events planner,  and consultant. (Add wife & mother!)  Click the link above to listen to the interview.

Podcast 008: Terri King ~ Creativity Reigns!

Terri King
Chief Creative Officer & Owner 
My Secret Garden ~ Bay City, Michigan

Today’s podcast guest is one of the most creative, gifted, savvy, smart and yes, REMARKABLE retailers that I have ever met, and she is a great friend and retail accountability partner! Terri King is the owner of My Secret Garden in Bay City, Michigan. Today you’ll hear some words of wisdom from this exceptional entrepreneur!

Terri King, My Secret Garden

Pure Imagination!
Terri brings passion and incredible creativity to her beautiful store in Bay City, Michigan.  Her store encompasses over 7,000 square feet and the displays are absolutely delightful!

Terri scours markets in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Chicago, High Point and locally to bring the best selection of unique products to her customers. Constantly changing merchandise and displays keep My Secret Garden fresh and exciting!

She is highly respected within the Retail Community and has been featured in several publications including GiftBeat and the Off-Price Market Magazine, along with many articles in her local market area.  Her shop is a true destination shopping location for locals and those who travel to the Bay City, Michigan area. Her shop buzzes with creative displays and fun events for customers!
~Click “Continue Reading” for photos and details!

Email Marketing: Second Chance at Success! (Part Two of Two)

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

~Chinese Proverb


“The botanical basis of this proverb is clear enough. Because it takes a long time to grow a tree, to have a nice-sized tree today, one should have planted it 20 years ago. But the second part of the proverb makes it clear that there is no sense in putting off planting a tree into the future because they take so long to grow. In fact, because they take so long to grow, the sooner they are planted the better, and planting a tree today is preferable to planting one next week.” David Mermin

Second Chance Email Marketing

So what does all of this talk about planting trees have to do with running a small business?

In talking with retailers and small business owners from around the country, I hear a very common theme when it comes to Email Marketing…they know that they should do it, they just don’t get it done! Despite all of the statistics and research that proves that email is an extremely effective tool to communicate with their clients, most retailers are not getting a regular, weekly email out to their customers. We need to find a way to simplify the process and maximize the time investment!

In Part One of this series, we provided you with a FREE E-Book on Email Marketing. Today we’re going to give you an easy method that I accidentally stumbled upon to get up to 50% more opens from the emails that you do create. It’s worth clicking the link and reading the rest of this post!

Email Marketing: Second Chance at Success! (Part One of Two)

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.
~Chinese Proverb


I’ve always liked this proverb and find it applies to many common dilemmas. The best time to see a doctor about a worrisome symptom was probably the day after you noticed the symptom. The next best time is today. The best time to start a large project at work or a term paper at school was shortly after the task was assigned. The next best time is today. And for our subject today, the best time to start building your email list was the day you opened your business, but the second best time is today!

Email Marketing ~ Second Chances, Part 1 of 2

Today we look back into our email archives to the very beginning of our Email Marketing Story, and give you a place to START.

We’ve also included a link to our FREE Email Marketing Ebook to give you that push and help you get started.

As the quote above suggests, TODAY is the second best day to get going with consistent email marketing!

5 Strategies to Beat the First Quarter Retailer Blues

In the dim background of our mind, we know what we ought to be doing but somehow we cannot start.

~William James


Unless your business is located somewhere the Snowbirds flock to for the winter months like Florida, Arizona, California, or you’re running a business in a busy ski resort area, like me, you may experiencing a bit of the First Quarter Retailer Blues.

Where just one month ago, you couldn’t find a parking space within several city blocks, the streets and parking lots are now mostly empty, and our shoppers are snuggled up at home.  This is always disheartening to me and it seems that even after being an independent retailer for 32 January’s, I tend to struggle with my confidence as a business woman during these first couple of months of the year. This post really is a first quarter 2015 To-Do list for myself as I need a bit of coaching to remind me to get my mind back in the game! Like the quote above relates, I know what I ought to be doing, I just need to GET STARTED!

Podcast 006: 5 Great Reasons to Get Going With Gourmet!

Be Our Guest!

I am on the same journey and quest to become a Remarkable Retailer that you are on…and have tried many different approaches to product selection over the years, but one decision that we made many years ago has continued to pay off in a variety of ways. To be a Remarkable Retailer or an Exceptional Entrepreneur, you must step outside of your comfort zone and do something that other businesses are NOT doing!

Honey Apple Pecan Dessert

Honey Apple Pecan Dessert…Click Image for Recipe

Zig when everyone else Zags!

My friend and co-worker, Sandy Brooks gave me a book titled “Crazy is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging when everyone else Zags” by Linda Rottenberg (I mentioned this in an earlier post as well), and I think adding a Gourmet & Kitchenware department to your existing store may seem a little “Crazy” to some store owners. However, you need to take steps to set your store apart from all of the other cookie-cutter businesses that are out there!

That one decision I mentioned earlier was the decision to commit to a Gourmet Foods/Kitchenware Department in our retail store, stop dabbling in gourmet foods and take our selection and our service to a new level. We made this decision several years ago and it has been a game changer for our store!  It changes the atmosphere of your business when you offer drinks and a small snack to the customers shopping in your store.

Today we’re going to talk about 5 Great Reasons to Go Gourmet!!!