You could say it all started with dessert. One sleepy Sunday on the Greek island of Pat- mos, I learned a few retailing secrets from a baker. Stopping to try pougi, a scrumptious weet almond cake, I mused half-jokingly that this shop would do great business in Los Angeles or even New York. Evidently I mused rather loudly because the shopkeeper replied to me in English that he appreciated my idea but although e had considered it, he did not want to expand because he would lose his loyal customer base. He didn’t want to dilute his business. This was a man who knew his market. Since Patmos sits relatively in the middle of the Aegean Sea and about 150 miles off the coast of Greece, our con- versation on this topic was entirely unexpected. But then, you never know where your next best ideas will come from. It’s true that retail has been more like a combat zone than a comfort zone these past few years. What’s changed, and how can we learn from it? From Patmos to Portugal to small-town America, here are a few tips I’ve learned from retailers and managers around the globe.