NEW AGE RETAILER Expo 2009 : Page 68

hen it comes to the success of Mimosa Books and Gifts in Madison, Wis., luck has nothing to do with it. Well, except for the fortunate purchase of the lucky cats. As owner Diane Doughman tells the story, she and her staff decided to purchase two 8-inch-tall Japanese good luck cats—“maneki nekos”—on a whim. Brightly glittered yellow and green, with one paw raised in the traditional welcoming ges- ture, the cats from Universe of Energies (www. universeofenergies.com) were a big hit because of their unique feature: motors. Pop a battery in, the staff found out, and their little raised paws waved. Team Mimosa thought this was hilarious—and so cheesy they had to have a couple on hand (so to speak). Aware that placing moving objects in a front dis- play window usually attracts customers, they set Surprising success Mimosa is one of the unique stores on the fun and funky State Street pedestrian mall that links Capitol Square with the University of Wisconsin campus. A popular destination for residents, tourists, and students alike, State Street is always alive with ac- tivity, featuring block after block of specialty shops (including another large metaphysical store), galler- ies, and restaurants—and yet Mimosa has found a way to stand out in the crowd. First opened in 1984 on a less-visible side street by original owner Patty Roth, the shop, then known as Mimosa Community Bookstore, thrived for many years but eventually was undercut by the rise of the big-box bookstores. Roth sold Mimosa to Beth Wortzel and Jim Powell in 2001. They refashioned the store, adding more metaphysical products and gift items to the stock of books and CDs, renamed MiMosa Books and Gifts is thrivinG in the Midwest by Trinka Baron GooD Fortune one of the maneki nekos a-waving at the passersby outside their store in downtown Madison. They sold both lucky cats. They ordered more. They sold those. They increased their order. They sold out again. One customer even put a video of the waving cat on YouTube. And yes, they placed an even bigger order after that. If there’s anything the Mimosa staff knows, it’s to pay attention to what their customers want. it Mimosa Books and Gifts, moved it to its high-vis- ibility location, and added an activity room with the same square footage as the retail portion, doubling the space. However, Wortzel and Powell found running the store too time-consuming, and they welcomed help from new partner Doughman. She and her husband, Gary, purchased the shop from Wortzel and Powell in 2005 and have seen their good New Age Retailer

Good Fortune

Trinka Baron

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