September 8 2011

A year and a week of success and growth

September 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

Sassy Pants celebrates anniversary now offering more than ever Connecting with customers and meeting their needs is what Lynette TenBrink had in mind when she sat behind her desk at her corporate job. A “people person,” TenBrink felt she was missing her calling, although her job and benefits were all fine. Her friends and family told her she was nuts to consider walking away to open her own store, in Michigan, in a bad economy. She did it anyway. A year later the success of her shop, Sassy Pants Boutique, proves the single mom of three was right to take the plunge. The shop opened September 1, 2010, expanded to a new larger location in March 2011 and is now able to offer more of her “fun and funky yet sweet and girly” clothing, accessories, gifts and custom décor. Sassy Pants also recently launched their online store, where they are now able to offer many more items such as bedding and children’s furniture. TenBrink attributes her success with a can-do attitude, a lot of prayer, helpful mentors such as Kim Smith from Kimberly’s Boutique (who she calls her sen sei), and listening to her customers. Originally a strictly “tween“ shop, carrying only sizes 7 to 16, she heard often that her customers wanted smaller sizes, so she added girls’ and toddler clothing to her store. She then heard a need for baby clothing and gifts for both boys and girls, and she now carries that too! “All sizes are doing so well!” said TenBrink. “I am happy to listen to what my customers’ needs are and I do my best to meet them.” Recently chatting with moms of her tween shoppers, TenBrink heard how traumatic it can be for young girls when the time comes to buy that first bra. After several conversations with these moms, Sassy Pants began carrying a full line of bras by C.C. bras. They also offer custom bra fittings. TenBrink said the paperwork end of owning her own business is the most challenging and leaves her bookkeeping up to her accountant. Other aspects of being her own boss are much more enjoyable. She loves finding unique items for the store that can’t be found anywhere else around, and also tries […]

Stein re-elected chair of MRA board

September 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

Barb Stein, owner-operator of Great Northern Trading Co. in Rockford, has been re-elected chair of the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) Board of Directors for a second one-year term. Stein opened Great Northern Trading Co, a specialty gifts and home décor store, in 1977. She has been a member of the MRA board since 2001. MRA, the unified voice of retailing in Michigan, is the nation’s largest state trade association of general merchandise retailers. MRA provides services, including expert credit card processing, to retail and non-retail businesses, community banks, and state and national associations. MRA has members and accounts in more than 30 states.

Honing ‘elevator speech’ topic of luncheon

September 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

Next networking event Sept. 12 at DreamMaker  by BETH ALTENA In its 50th year, the Rockford Chamber of Commerce continues to adapt to meet the needs of its membership. As a result, a recent Chamber luncheon was a networking and work session on “Creating Your Elevator Speech.” Board member Mike McGovern introduced the topic and noted that each table at the luncheon held at the Rockford American Legion Post had a moderator to help the process flow smoothly. At the end, one attendee from each table was invited to present their “elevator speech” to the entire group. An elevator speech is the short introduction designed to make the most of a short time with a person you wish to tell about yourself—such as the brief time on an elevator. Four considerations should be covered. First, start with a “hook” that will grab the attention of the listener. Second, give your pitch, no longer than 30 seconds. It can be what you do, why you do it, how it could benefit your listener, why your offer is different and who your company is. Third, present the personal and passionate nature of your work. People want to see that you are excited about what you do. Finally, your elevator speech would be incomplete without the next step: ask for something. Can you get them to meet with you? Get a business card. Attendees at the luncheon were each provided with a worksheet to help identify key elements of their professional work. Three answers were required for each of the following questions. What are the three primary concerns your customers face? What are the three things you do to address these primary concerns? In addition, the following questions were posed on the worksheet. What does your company do? What do you do? Who do you work with and for? Why would someone care what you do and what’s in it for them? Why are you different from the competition? What one thing do you do better than anyone else? The Chamber provides a variety of opportunities for networking as well as sponsors annual events. The next chance to attend a chamber event is Monday, Sept. 12, when an informal After Hours event will be held at DreamMaker Bath […]

MAIN STREET by Roger Allen, publisher

September 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

Where’s Vermont, anyway? Mother Nature pulled one of her surprises last week. The weather warnings were all about Hurricane Irene about to demolish our famous east coast cities. Most of them came through better than expected. It’s nice that the storm weakened somewhat, but Vermonters aren’t consoled. Irene clobbered their mountain state with major flooding of rivers and steams. Bridges, including many historic covered bridges, are gone; some towns don’t have a road left, in or out. Vermonters should object. I looked it up on a map, and their state doesn’t even have a seacoast. Signs, everywhere signs, #1 Joe was in court charged with parking his car in a restricted area. The judge asked him if he had anything to say in his defense. “Absolutely,” said Joe. “They shouldn’t put up such misleading notices. The sign said, ‘FINE FOR PARKING HERE.’” Signs, #2 Jack made his way through veterinary school working nights as a taxidermist. Upon graduation, he decided he could combine his two vocations to better serve the needs of his patients and their owners. He’d double his practice and his income. So he opened offices with a shingle on the door that said, “Dr. Jones, Veterinary Medicine and Taxidermy—Either way, you get your dog back.” Signs, #3 The inscription on the metal bands used by the U.S. Department of the Interior to tag migratory birds has been changed. The bands used to bear the address of the Washington Biological Survey, abbreviated, “Wash. Biol. Surv.” Then the agency received the following letter from an Arkansas camper: “Dear Sirs: While camping last week I shot one of your birds. I think it was a crow. I followed the cooking instructions on the leg tag and I want to tell you it was horrible.” Morning The next-door neighbor dropped in on a friend and found her sitting at the kitchen table. She was staring blankly at a half-empty cup of coffee, her three kids squabbling loudly in the other room. “What’s wrong, Marge?” asked the neighbor. “Morning sickness,” Marge replied. “Wow, I’m surprised. I didn’t even know you were expecting!” “I’m not,” Marge said. “I’m just darn sick of mornings.”                 Business as usual An airliner was having engine trouble. The pilot […]

THE TAX ATTIC with Jerry Coon

September 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

New, changed forms Just to shake things up a bit for tax professionals, from time to time the Internal Revenue Service changes how a form will look or will even do something more sinister: they develop a new form. For 2011, they did both. First, they created a new Form 1099-K, Merchant Card and Third Party Network Payments. I have discussed this form in a previous article, but we get clarifications from time to time on what transactions are to be reported. As it stands now, merchant card processors and payment settlement entities such as MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and eBay will be required to report the gross amount of merchant card and third party network payments that they process for taxpayers. For example, Action Tax Service accepts Visa and MasterCard as payment for services rendered. We are considered an entity that receives payments directly from the processor. We will receive a 1099-K that shows the gross amount of collections paid through our processor, which happens to be PNC Bank. The 1099-K will also show the amount of collections broken down on a monthly basis. We will report that gross amount as a separate line on our tax return so the IRS can tie out the 1099-K and our tax return amounts. Because we are a direct receiver of merchant cards, we will receive a 1099-K even if we only process one transaction during the year. The sticky wicket appears to come into play when someone uses a third party, such as PayPal through eBay, to accept and process payments. The interpretation we have now is that people selling on eBay will receive a 1099-K only if they process at least $20,000 in gross sales and process a minimum of 200 transactions. A person that sells their boat on eBay for $5,000 will not meet the minimum gross sales threshold or the minimum number of sales threshold, so they won’t receive a 1099-K. Previously, it looked like even that one transaction for $5,000 would result in the receipt of a 1099-K. The difference is being a direct receiver of credit cards, like Action Tax Service, versus having a third party, like PayPal through eBay, process the credit card and just deposit the money into a directed […]

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