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One if by land, two if by sea, and we on the opposite shore here be. Wal-Mart is coming. Wal-mart is coming. What will become of us, we worried.
Bluffton, Indiana Merchants
Group Their Forces
To the rescue flew Jon Schallert. His company specializes in enabling a town to thrive when a Wal-Mart arrives, or to liven up even without a giant superstore looming.
Jon held two large meetings at our library, one early Tuesday morning, on on Wednesday evening. In between meetings, Jon visited the merchants who had signed up with him. He gave each one a straight-talking, no holds barred evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses. Some of the merchants put his ideas into action overnight, including the Christman's Family PCs which changed its name to SPC Technologies Group to reflect its wide range of services.
Vicki Knowle's Garno's Grinders and Pizza invented a take-out picnic basket. Jo Stann at Party Gallery began to let the world know of her talent with balloon figures. Improvement by improvement, we moved forward.
On Thursday, after a morning of visiting more merchants, Jon led a pep session and wrap-up at the awesome Rittenhouse Restaurant. We formed committees to help improve storefronts, signs, publicity and events. As a non-native and reporter, I learned to match a lot of names with faces, people who had been mysteries to me these past ten years. Everyone had equally positive experiences.
Here are some of the new wave of entrepreneurs in Bluffton, looking into the future.
Jon's fresh eye noticed major attractions here that we had been taking for granted. Our State Park, within walking distance is one. The amphitheatre at Kehoe Park, and its view of the classic bridge over the Wabash. Shops like Harvest Health, Bearcreek Farms and Party Gallery are destination stores, stores the shopper will drive a good way to patronize. The list goes on and on.
Both our newspaper and our Chamber of Commerce are assets as we make Bluffton the "Paris on the Wabash."
Movers and shakers.
Brock Rittenhouse presented a wonderful lunch, compliments of the Chamber of Commerce. His special touches are what makes the Rittenhouse a famed destination stop in this city.
Schallert stressed other facets of perfection including customer service, extensive knowledge of your wares, clean windows and displays, placement of items to improve traffic patterns, customer psychology, co-operation rather than competition, and the need to constantly plan the next changes and improvements. There is no standing still in retailing.
A month later, the merchants took a trip to Madison, Indiana to see their success in competing with the new Wal-Mart. Jon Schallert, although headquartered in Florida, joined them in Madison. This man is not only smart, but he can teach well too. Thanks to the Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Ted Ellis for setting up Jon's visit to Bluffton, and thanks to Jon for all his fine ideas. Bluffton, it's up to us now. We can't shrivel up and waste away. We can do this, we can make "Paris on the Wabash." Let's go!
How to contact Jon:
Schallert & Associates, Inc.
PO Box 1090
Sorrento, FL 32776
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Bluffton Indiana Factoids is written by Sandra Weinhardt. Send all additions and corrections for the Bluffton pages to me at email@example.com