Amazon, subscription services and auto-renewals are making “chore” shopping—routine, essential purchases—easier. But consumers still seek out the experiential side of shopping, says a recent Vend report. They love “the part [of shopping] that involves discovering great products and socializing with others.”
This is good news for local dancewear stores. “Retail is becoming more vibrant and diverse,” says Vaughan Rowsell, founder at Vend. “More independent stores, not fewer. More artisan products. More carefully curated sets of products for you to fall in love with and cherish.”
A dance retailer can please its customers by making their routine shopping for tights, say, less of a chore—offering online ordering or a subscription service—but what ways do you have to delight these same shoppers when they walk into your store? For consumers who place more value on experiences, personalization has big appeal, according to the report. “When shoppers purchase tangible products, they want those items to tell a story, fit into their lifestyle, be completely unique or all of the above,” says the report. “Allowing shoppers to build and personalize products fulfills those standards and makes shopping itself a lot more exciting.” Today’s pre-professional ballet students, for instance, often look for custom leotards to express their individuality. Several storeowners at this year’s dance retail shows talked about adding products from new vendors to bring that feeling of individuality and exclusivity to their selections. Other ideas: VIP trunk shows for your most loyal customers, embroidery services to embellish products you carry, custom costuming.
Make sure to follow these guidelines.
In early 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor approved updated guidelines for engaging interns in for-profit businesses. According to The Employer Report, from law firm Baker McKenzie, the new guidelines should provide employers with more flexibility to have unpaid interns.
An internship can be a great way for college students to get real-life learning experience, and a business can benefit from fresh ideas and energy. Paid interns are technically the same as temporary employees, and all the relevant minimum wage and overtime labor laws apply. But unpaid internships are legal, too, as long as certain criteria are met. Basically, the unpaid intern, not the store, must be the primary beneficiary of the internship, according to the revised guidelines. “Courts have used the ‘primary beneficiary test’ to determine whether an intern or student is, in fact, an employee under the FLSA [Fair Labor Standards Act],” states a U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet.
As the DOL Fact Sheet describes, the primary beneficiary test consists of the following seven factors, but “courts have described the ‘primary beneficiary test’ as a flexible test, and no single factor is determinative. Whether an intern or student is an employee under the FLSA necessarily depends on the unique circumstances of each case.” (For that reason, consult an employment lawyer as you make your plans.) In assessing whether an unpaid internship at your business is valid, consider the extent to which:
The intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
The internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
The internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
The internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
The internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
The intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees, while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
The intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.
A benefit to recruit Millennial Employees and keep them loyal.
Offering the right benefits can help your store compete for scarce local talent. But for Millennials, a 401(k) is not always a priority at this stage of their lives, and they are likely still on their parents’ health insurance plans. Saving for college and then paying off student loan debt are top of mind, though. (Average student loan debt among borrowers in the class of 2016 was $37,172.) To address this, Gradifi, a First Republic company, designed a Student Loan PayDown (SLP) benefit plan that is affordable for small companies to offer their employees. You decide on a monthly contribution you’ll make to help the employee pay down their student loan; the administration cost is about $5 a month per participant. Since the contribution is considered employee income, it’s tax-deductible for the employer.
A study from Gradifi reports that “90 percent of those with outstanding student loan debt said a student loan repayment benefit would positively impact their decision to accept a job offer, to recommend an employer or to stay at their current employer.” Yet only 4 percent of employers offer such a benefit.
For more information, go to gradifi.com; to sign up, call 844-GRADIFI. Gradifi also offers a College SaveUp benefit.