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Business Makeover: Back to School Shopping


If it's broke, fix it.

As carefree summer fun is plowed under by back-to-school depression, retail chains are desperately searching for an angle that will bring in the crowds. Hit hard by slashed shopping budgets, $4-a-gallon gas and mortgage hikes, retailers need a sales bounce.

With rebate checks practically tapped out and the kids at their whiniest, how can retail giants entice beleaguered consumers?

Costco could renew their reputation for thrift by carrying the revolutionary Ramen Block. This 500-pack of the infamous freeze-dried delicacy offers students strapped by tuition payments -- or alums behind on their loans -- a full semester of nutritious starch, in addition to a decade's worth of sodium.

Staples has the opportunity to redefine the school nerd's calling card: The Trapper Keeper. The solution: A free X-acto knife (plastic-bladed, to avoid those pesky inner-city metal detectors) with every Trapper Keeper sold! Just watch bullying statistics plummet.

Piracy crippled the retail music market. However, FYE can drive music fans back into stores with an old standby: The hot, halter-topped cashier who's impressed by unique CD purchases - and by those jokes that make her smile that perfect lip-pierced smile.

After age 40, everyone needs a ladder. Home Depot needs to inform the public of this inevitability. Americans can only outrun their destiny for so long.

The video game "M Rating" keeps younger customers -- a key demographic -- from buying titles filled with graphic violence, drug use and nudity. If GameStop really wants to see profits skyrocket, it will find a way to obscure the warning with strategically-placed price tags.

Just shut down Borders Books. Nobody reads anymore.

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