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Commentary: The Business

INSTORE’s Brain Squad Participation Boosts Business Acumen

Denise Oros says membership helped her grow her jewelry store.




WHY DO I answer so many INSTORE Brain Squad surveys? To get a relevant information exchange, you have to give accurate statistics.

But there’s a bonus: By answering the questionnaire each month for two decades, I’ve learned how to track my inventory turn, review and compare my buying, stick to my budget and learn what my inventory levels really mean. This was transformative for creating what is now a $1 million-plus store operating in less than 600 square feet.

That is huge compared to other retailers who don’t spend time researching, finding and filling out the information. They don’t bother with a budget or have functioning open-to-buy lists and can’t be bothered to restock fast sellers or understand their P&L statement. I am grateful every day for the tips and tricks I’ve learned and shared.

But the question shouldn’t be why do you answer the Brain Squad Surveys, but rather why don’t you answer the Brain Squad surveys?

If you run your business wisely, you have to review your numbers to do your monthly taxes, pay salaries/commissions and qualify fast sellers for next month’s budget. Each month answering the survey, you analyze your numbers: gross profit, net profit, cost of goods, cost of labor, supplies, etc. From those monthly reports, you can find your fast sellers.

Who are your best performing vendors? How is the market shifting in your demographics? What adjustments to inventory are necessary?


Each month, I reflect on my numbers, searching for upticks and ways to change and tweak my business’s performance. Reading the back end of the Brain Squad survey, where I can see all the other responses, keeps me trending toward profitability. If I pay attention to what is selling elsewhere, noting suppliers that sell those items, I have a better buy list for the next show.

Those results keep my cases fresh, so my customers return again and again. Reading the responses and gleaning how other stores deal with old stock, discounting, markups, etc., keeps me in the middle of the road to profitability.

This is a business, I run it like a business and INSTORE has been a huge inspiration for growth, defining market trends, and increasing profitability. Those characteristics add up to a very prolific business that I love walking into each and every day.

There’s another bonus. In the letters to the editor, you will often find industry challenges from our community or areas that need detailed attention to increase profitability and management ease.

INSTORE is my professional retail reminder: A good business needs tending, constantly, to produce the highest yields. Those magic seeds often come from the pages of INSTORE.




She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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