Retail Turns a Corner
Oates: I actually don't think I would have done anything different. When the downturn hit, we didn't wait. We made changes instantly and decided to ride it out. It was a strategy that worked for us. A lot of vendors wanted us to load up inventory at the end of 2008, and we just resisted. And the price increases that were allegedly going to happen didn't. So our edge was to get inventory in line, and then we were in position to take advantage of opportunities later.
Maloney: Being a family business, we'd been slow to make some cuts that needed to be made, and we let attrition handle our head count instead of laying people off. We should have probably started earlier in cost savings. The other thing we could have done was been a little bit smarter in predicting the TV business. Like a lot of other retailers, we ran short a number of times on TVs, especially right after Christmas. It was hard for us and other retailers to get TVs then. It started easing up a bit the first part of summer.
Thofner: We'd planned on 2008 being extremely tough, and we cut the fat, increased advertising and really watched our spending. We had an incredible year. In 2009, we weren't as on the ball. We opened the new store and didn't keep expenses down. We didn't go after the vendors in our advertising expenses, didn't hit them as much as in '08. In 2008, I said 'no' all the time to vendors, but in 2009, I said 'yes' too much.