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  • Mark Lipton

The Buck Stops Here!


A month ago, Guy and I were empty-nesters.

We went where we wanted to go and when! Dinnertime was mostly pizza night, ham sandwich night and “I’m going to the cigar lounge-they’re bringing in Chinese food-see you tomorrow!” night.

How things have changed!

Three weeks ago, Guy’s 26-year old son Chris joined us in our quarantine and in just a few days my 22-year old daughter Buck Wheat adds her name to our mailbox!

Cue the Brandy Bunch music!

Both of Guy’s boys were already in college and out of the house when we met so this is all new for us all. It will be interesting to see how we all coalesce!


We will coalesce, won't we?

While the outbreak of the coronavirus has changed the landscape and living arrangements for the Lipton family, those changes will not be permanent. At some point this outbreak will end and despite the financial and emotional scars it will leave, the kids will go back to their own homes and lives. Life for me and Guy will transition back to pizza and cigars night!

At least that’s the plan.

Sadly, I don’t think that the transition back to “normal” will be as smooth for most independent paint retailers as it will be for me and Guy.

The outbreak of the coronavirus and the economic impact of the outbreak is about to send shockwaves through the entire independent paint dealer channel.

It would be hard to argue otherwise, that this outbreak will be nothing less than near-total devastation for independent retailers of all types around the United States and Canada. I see nothing in the tea-leaves which gives me reason to hope that what is happening to restaurants, dry cleaners and salons will pass-over independent paint dealers.

The ground has already shifted.

In mid-maMarch, as the COVID-19 outbreak spread across our industry, I was looking for any source of data could help me “take the pulse” of independent PAINT retailers, as their own category.

I couldn’t find any, so I created a survey.

Just a few days after posting it, results started coming in.


I was not prepared.

My concern began to elevate as I got to the results for question 5:

“How long can you survive if you are forced to close?”

FIFTY percent of dealers said less than 60 days!


Not good when you consider how many of us will be closed or effectively closed for well over 60 days during this crisis.


You can see the survey here if you like. It was created on March 17th and most of the data was received in the first few days after that so while it still makes the point, I recognize that this survey is already dated.

Question eight was equally concerning:

“Assuming you were closed for several months without revenue or had several months of very low revenue, would you need funding to reopen your store(s) if you desired to?”

Eighty-two percent of the retailers who answered that question felt that they would NOT be able to re-open without financial assistance.

Let me say that again: 82%- as in ALMOST ALL- dealers felt that they would not be able to reopen without financial assistance.

I felt that I needed to share these findings beyond just publishing them here and so I reached out to LeAnn Day.

LeAnn is the CEO of the PDRA-The Paint and Decorating Retailers Association. We spoke about my findings a number of times over a few weeks; against the backdrop of a worsening economy, closing paint stores and economic stimulus packages.

To LeAnn’s credit, she felt immediately that my survey wasn’t enough; that we needed better data.

She was right! When fighting a crisis, data is your most valuable weapon. (Just about any other time too actually)!

Next week or perhaps even later this week, all 7000 or so independent paint dealers around the United States and Canada will be asked by the PDRA to take a new survey. Designed and written AFTER a government stimulus package specifically for small business poured $349Bil onto our spreadsheets, this new survey will help us understand if in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the government stimulus package will be enough to save our channel.

And if it's not enough, then the solutions that WILL be enough will have to be based data. This is not the time to guess and solutions based on anything other than data are guesses!


Call To Action!!!!

If you are an independent paint retailer you MUST fill out this survey! Hundreds of responses make the data stronger.

Thousands of responses make the PDRA (and the whole channel stronger) and dealers are about to need a strong PDRA!

When we get the results from this new, more detailed and larger PDRA survey, we will follow the data and see where it leads us!

Right after we report out our findings to you!

It’s possible that we still need even more data after this survey. But whatever we find will be shared: with dealers, paint manufacturers and other vendors in the channel.

Of course, the efforts of the PDRA will not be enough. We are ALL going to have to participate if we are going to find out if this channel needs saving and what it will take to save it, if it does.

And that’s where you come in!

We will all have to be active in our roles if we are going to make a difference. If you’re reading this and you are a paint dealer;

FILL OUT THE SURVEY!

I’ll get a link up on my blog as soon as one is available. But it’s crucial that AS MANY of us from around the continent take this survey. LITERALLY, our futures may depend on it.

So, if you’re a dealer, FILL IT OUT!

But that leaves nothing for the “non-dealer” readers to do? Have no fear, there is work for everyone.

Those of you that follow me because you work for the companies that sell into the independent paint retailer channel, you KNOW paint dealers You ALL know paint dealers or other types of retailers that sell paint. Reach out to those dealers and MAKE CERTAIN that they take this survey.

Yes, YOU!!!!

In the post-COVID-19 world as people re-enter their lives, the opportunity for independent retailers is enormous! Our smaller footprint and ease of use in a “no-touch” world could enrich us beyond anything we have ever seen.

But not if we don’t survive the next few months, and in LARGE numbers. So we all have to do our part to make certain that that happens!

Please, stay safe and if your government is ordering you to do so; stay at home and isolated.

And as you do wonder out of your homes, either now for essentials or in the future during a more normal lifestyle, shop independent!

Now, it really matters!




©2019 by Mark Lipton

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