by John Murray

I’m the owner and operator of Kilwins stores in Patchogue Village and Babylon Village.

For those not already familiar with Kilwins, we are a franchise specializing in chocolate, fudge and ice cream. Our company has over 100 locations nationwide.

The “Kilwins Project,” for me started back in April 2012 in Babylon. In the past four years and seven months, I have learned various lessons in business and have spoken to many business people.

My intention with this column is to share some of those lessons, encourage entrepreneurship, and provide general economic commentary. At 32 years old, I do not claim to know everything, I just have some thoughts I want to share.

At Boston College, I was a business columnist for The Heights, the school’s independent student newspaper. After a 10-year drought, your Greater Media president and publisher, Mike White, offered me a corner of his page to allow you readers into a crazy, sometimes scary place: my mind.

For those readers already engaged in operating a business, perhaps this column could serve a support group role as well. Sometimes the struggle is easier knowing that others in a similar industry in the same region are going through the same thing as you are. 

So here goes:

In terms of economic commentary, I can confidently report that this is officially a slack period in the retail world. You could legitimately have the greatest thing since sliced bread in your store or at your business and it will still be a slack period.

We can all see this in the large retailers, as the holiday items are emerging earlier and earlier.  Everyone is clearly dying for the holiday buying season to begin. I personally use the slack periods of the year to plan the next big promotional idea or campaign. (Or, start a weekly column in a local news publication.) 

As a rule of thumb, I try to be thinking a month or two ahead at bare minimum. Some larger companies think a year or two ahead, but this is likely difficult for the little guy because you just don’t have the personnel and/or resources to plan that far ahead. I also prefer smaller windows because it allows me to be nimble, and adapt if something isn’t working the way it was planned.

Some of my greatest ideas have come in a slack period, when there is still a little time left before the holiday buying season. Think of a tweak to your products, your placement, and guest service.  The idea is you want to have yourself in the best position when the switch turns on.

By the time you realize you didn’t have the best promotions, it’s already too late.

I just want to conclude today’s column on a thankful note. Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching.

We just celebrated Veterans Day, and nobody is more deserving of thanks than our veterans and their families. I personally try to always thank those who work in our stores for their effort and our guests for supporting us — which all allows me to enjoy my fun “job” of playing with chocolate. 

So if you own a business, thank your staff. You might think your gratitude is understood, but it means so much to hear it voiced.