Hard Knocks University

Pete and his wife, Adrienne, are the founders of one of America’s oldest “Doll Only” e-commerce stores: The Pattycake Doll Co., currently located at https://BestDollsForKids.com

Who taught you the toy business? Were you born knowing how to start and run a toy store?
When you were five years old and someone asked you: “Well little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up?” was your answer: “I want to run a toy store!”?

Most of us I believe, got our education at Hard Knocks University. Some of us may have started as an employee in the business and learned from our bosses.

In my case, I was lucky enough to come from a long line of self-made small business owners. At Sunday Brunch, my family didn’t talk Sports or Politics, they talked ‘Business.’ And leading the pack was my Grandpa, born in the 1880’s in New Bedford,  Massachusetts, to an Austrian run-away who came to America and turned ripped and discarded canvas sails into long wearing pants for the fishermen.

I’d like to share some of Grandpa’s Retail Wisdom… it’s amazing to me how much of it is pertinent today:

One of his… and one of my favorite quotes: “You don’t learn a heck of a lot from the second kick from the horse.” Today they say “Fail Fast and try again,” but the intent is much the same… you are going to make a lot of mistakes… learn from them! And don’t make the same mistake twice!
“You see that lady coming down the street? She’s got only five bucks in her purse. You need to make sure that she spends it with you and not that bastard across the street.” Self-evident I would say, but did anyone ever tell you so clearly what your store is about?

“Joe Shmoe don’t care how much it costs you, he just wants to know how much it costs him!” was always paired with: “He doesn’t know how much it is supposed to cost until you explain it to him. That’s what a good salesman does.”

I don’t know if Grandpa heard Ron Popiel say it, or if Ron Popeil heard Grandpa say it, or if it was just always common knowledge, but if I heard it once I heard it a dozen times: “Don’t ever forget, Americans are a ‘gift-giving’ society.” Which is a good thing, because toys are gifts. Most little kids don’t have credit cards.

“Don’t fall in love with your inventory.” It took me a long time to ‘get’ this one. Hopefully you’re quicker than me.

And of course, the golden rule of any business: “Buy low, sell high.” But you probably already knew that one, right?

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