Cathy Coleman, owner
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Have you reduced your inventory levels? What needs to happen before you will feel comfortable increasing your inventory levels?

I can honestly say that I haven’t reduced inventory levels in 2009.  Most customers, I believe, want to select from full displays. I will continue throughout 2010 to stock my best-selling artists’ lines more deeply.

What indicators do you need to see before you’ve decided that the economy is indeed improving?

If sales levels in 2010 are level with 2009, I’ll be thrilled. The economy will recover for people at different times, I believe. As a retailer in both a five-star hotel and our area’s premier art center, I typically see a customer who is traveling for business or pleasure. If their household economy isn’t recovering, I won’t see them at all.

Are you advertising consistently?

Advertising has always been—and continues to be—a spotty proposition for me. But I’m lucky—both The Broadmoor resort and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center act as advertising partners through their continuing efforts to promote and build patronage for themselves.

What are a few other ways you’re preparing for the rebound?

Next year could be a tougher year than 2009. I should know by May.

What have you noticed in terms of consumer confidence?

Reasonably priced gift items are always a draw—tough times or not. Finding those items is one of my most important jobs.

The high-ticket customer is still playing it safe in my stores. My art glass customer, for instance, has nearly disappeared.

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