Kindness First

Sometimes we all just need a little reminder

Every day when my son gets on the school bus, I make him turn around and give me a hug.

“Kindness ­first,” I whisper into his broomstick hair.

If I’m lucky, I get a one-cheek smile. Usually it’s a little nod. This ritual will totally embarrass him soon if it doesn’t already. But though actions do indeed speak louder than words, it is this phrase I hope he remembers when he makes a decision about how to talk to his friends, treat a new student or respond to a teacher.

Recently, he’s had to spend two afternoons at the table in the back of the classroom. It’s an effective punishment for a 7-year-old kid who doesn’t like being on the fringe—or anywhere other than in the thick of it. He usually confesses his missteps at night when the lights are turned off: “Mom, it wasn’t my fault,” or “I didn’t mean to do it.”

We all make mistakes. Despite our best intentions and in spite of the very best advice, we still come to work late, we snap at our colleagues, we overstock the wrong product and understock the right one.

“I didn’t mean to do that,” we say. “It wasn’t my fault.”

Most of us have grown too old for mom’s advice. Some of us could learn only by making the mistakes she warned us against all those years ago. If we’d only paid attention. If we had listened.

In this issue, we are listening.

We know there is no magic bullet when it comes to your stores. We understand that category-management strategies vary from coast to coast, Midwest to Southwest. That’s why we talked to category managers all over the country, at small and large chains alike, to find out what works for them in their stores. We translated those stories for you in hopes that you’d find at least one  nugget worth investing in your store, or at the very least see the pitfalls to avoid.

Listening to the advice that only experience can suggest—that’s a magic bullet.

And that is my basic hope, day after day on the curb watching his backpack, half his height, disappear up the stairs of the bus: You’ll never regret being kind, kiddo. Slow down. Listen to mom. And always remember: Kindness first.

Abbey Lewis is editor in chief of Convenience Store Products magazine. Reach her at