Retail Business Boot Camp being offered locally, and it’s free

If you’re a small-business owner in the retail or food-and-beverage industries, Greater Grays Harbor Inc. and the University of Washington are teaming up to offer a free seminar focused on your needs.

Called a Retail Business Boot Camp, the presentations will offer ideas and tactics to boost business performance and to take control of the business’ online presence.

The three-and-a-half hour workshop will be held from 5 to 8:30 p.m.Wednesday, March 11 in the community room at Aberdeen High School.

There are about 90 spots available in the class, but 63 had been spoken for as of Friday morning, so the class is filling up fast, much to the delight of its organizers.

“The response has been great so far. We’re never sure what to expect when we go to a new place,” said Brady Ryan, of UW’s CoMotion Labs, a small-business incubator that offers similar seminars across the state, based on the specific needs of the community they are addressing.

Ryan will be one of the presenters at the workshop.

“We have not partnered with the University of Washington before this,” said Grant Jones, GGHI’s director of business development. “They’ve done similar events around the state. This is a little different in that we wanted to focus on the retail sector. … We’re pretty excited about it. I think it’s going to be a great event.”

“One of the things we’re trying to do is plug into communities across Washington to help small businesses there,” said Ryan, who noted that feedback from GGHI prompted the specific focus on the retail sector for the workshop. “This one is specifically for small-business owners in the retail and food and beverage industries.

“This is our first time diving specifically into retail,” said Ryan, But the needs are different everywhere we go.”

During the seminar — which is divided into three segments — retail strategist Kelly Kost of Seattle-based Downtown Works will present information geared to support retail shops, restaurants, salons, barbershops and more, while Ryan will focus on brand messaging via Google Profile.

Here is a brief breakdown of the topics being covered:

• 5:30.: Forces and Trends Shaping Retail and F&B

Kost will give an overview of broad industry trends and direction; business operators can use the information to consider potential tweaks to their business model, while property owners and municipal officials gain insight on what’s really happening in the world of retail.

• 6:30: Improving Customer Experience and Engagement through the “Look and Feel” of your Business

Kost will cover how retailers, eateries,and more can grow profits by improving the customer experience with a focus on the “look and feel” of the business, both on the exterior and interior of their storefront. Audience members can share specific challenges they face and get real-time ideas for addressing them.

7:30: Taking Ownership of your Business’ Google Profile

Ryan, UW CoMotion Labs, will give a seminar on how businesses can claim their Google profiles to make sure customers can easily find them on the web.

Meals and snacks will be provided. There is no cost to attend but attendees must preregister online at (make sure the final two letters are capitalized).