Chamber’s next roundtable offers tips for small busineses | GUEST COMMENTARY

"One of the common denominators with chamber CEOs is that we relish working in the business industry with entrepreneurs."

By Vicky Baxter,
Renton Chamber of Commerce

There is a TV show I particularly like on PBS about Harry Gordon Selfridge. Selfridge is a department store that has evolved into a chain of stores in the United Kingdom. The basis of Selfridge’s success was his relentlessly innovative marketing, which was elaborately expressed in his London store on Oxford Street.

Originally from America, Selfridge attempted to dismantle the idea that consumerism was strictly an American phenomenon. He tried to make shopping a fun adventure and a form of leisure instead of a chore, transforming the department store into a social and cultural landmark that provided women with a public space in which they could be comfortable and legitimately indulge themselves.

Emphasizing the importance of creating a welcome environment, he placed merchandise on display so customers could examine it, moved the highly profitable perfume counter front-and-center on the ground floor, and established policies that made it safe and easy for customers to shop.

In other words, he was innovative at a time when shopping was transitioning from basic needs to leisure shopping. He coined the phrase, “Only _____ Shopping Days Until Christmas.” He popularized the phrase “the customer is always right.”

The story of Harry Gordon Selfridge has many twists and turns but sadly he died destitute of bronchial pneumonia.

One of the common denominators with chamber CEOs is that we relish working in the business industry with entrepreneurs. You could say we’re “wanna-be” entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs start their businesses with a vision of success but many times they run into unforeseen challenges that derail their dream. Sometimes they defer paying themselves to put money back into the business with the goal that eventually when the business starts making money all will be fine.

The truth is, starting a business and maintaining a business takes sacrifice and a lot of discipline.

The Renton Chamber of Commerce is hosting a brown bag lunch roundtable sponsored by First Financial Northwest Bank from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.May 24. Topics will include an emphasis on diversification; making sure all of your money isn’t only going to the business; looking at other investment options outside of the business; planning for retirement; conservative investment strategies for the business; Investing extra cash; Keeping investments conservative and liquid; and utilizing First Financial Wealth Services to speak with employees about their retirement goals.

The event is open to everyone. The cost is $5.00 for Renton chamber members and $10.00 for non-members. Please register at for full details.

Register now as space is limited.

Vicky Baxter is CEO if the Renton Chamber of Commerce.