Dough Putman knew that University wasn’t right for him. This realization, combined with the important lessons he learned from owning fruits stands, gave him the confidence to build a billion-dollar business. — Tony Chapman
“If I ask you for a favour, I will never forget you gave me that favour,” Putman tells Tony Chapman in the latest edition of Chatter That Matters. The young retail sensation is explaining his view that relationships are the foundation of all good business as he shares his experiences buying and transforming some of the most iconic brands in Canada, the U.S. and the UK — Sunrise Records, HMV, FYE and most recently, Toys”R”Us.
In a world where online retailers can deliver anything a consumer needs at the click of a mouse or the touch of a finger, Putman believes in the magic of brick and mortar retail. He invests in stores that offer experiences people still crave. He chats with Chapman about competing with e-commerce giants, the differentiators that physical stores can deliver, and the impact of educated, passionate store associates.
Having started his first business at 17 (a fruit stand that grew to five roadside locations), he shares lessons he learned early about cash flow, staffing and the value of his own opinion. He talks about dropping out of university, his parents’ entrepreneurial influence and his approach to risk and reward. “What’s the worst thing that can happen if you fail?” he challenges. It’s a question that has propelled him through business so far and will continue to drive his future path, wherever that may take him.
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