Terri Alpert

I don't often get invited to meet with politicians about pending legislation, but next week I will have the opportunity to sit down with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro to discuss the Marketplace Fairness Act. In preparation for the meeting, I asked Terri Alpert, an active opponent of the bill, to educate me about what's at stake for small businesses. Alpert is a well-respected CEO who has built two top-shelf brands (Uno Alla Volta and Artisan Table) that do over $14 million in sales, and employ more than 50 people year-round. If this bill has her spooked, I need to know why.

Tired of reading about what a tough year it’s been for so many businesses across the board? Frustrated with your own results? Scared about the economy? Whether or not you’re struggling as much as others, here’s a little tonic: our annual best-of feature, in which we’ve pulled what we believe to be the 50 best and most implementable tips of the year from Catalog Success magazine as well as our weekly e-newsletter, Tactics & Tips. There’s nothing fancy here. Each paragraph is taken from a particular story that’s referenced, so you can turn or click back to reread the full story or act on

1. Never rest on your laurels. Change can happen in an instant, Terri Alpert points out. It did for Professional Cutlery Direct and resulted in the revamped Cooking Enthusiast and Uno Alla Volta catalogs. 2. Use your financial statements as a rearview mirror. Focus on the road ahead so you can prepare yourself for the first tip above. 3. Don’t skimp on inventory management. Your inventory managers should be some of your most highly skilled and compensated employees. They must be empowered with the right tools and an understanding of the company philosophy. 4. Treat your vendors as you wish to be treated. Always

Eight years ago, Terri Alpert reacted to a serious “holy crap!” moment. It was a reaction that set her company, then known as Professional Cutlery Direct, on a far steadier course than it might have wound up. Alpert uttered the exclamation when she realized that, over a period of time, the high-end kitchenware catalog business she launched in 1993 with less than $10,000, which prided itself on exacting product detail and attentive customer service, was now being more or less duplicated by practically every large retailer from New Haven to Nevada. “Things were looking good at that point, too,” says Alpert, founder/CEO of

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