It all started during a blizzard in 'Winterpeg'

That's what we call Winnipeg, Manitoba. The coldest place I've ever been. It was my first experience in retail -- roads were snowed over, cars buried. Most people hunkered down at home for a couple of days.

Mom worked in a local, independent grocery store nearby. Since most employees couldn't get to work, Mom brought my brother and me to work with her. We bagged groceries for the day. The mood in the store that day was jovial. Customers had skied to the store, just to get out of the house and pick up potato chips. They were happy to stand in long lines and swap stories with the neighbours.

For me, it was the beginning of a retail adventure I've been on ever since.

Grocery carts, fashion and art

Bagging groceries led to collecting grocery carts, selling clothes, and then to a degree in merchandising from Ryerson University's School of Fashion in Toronto. Five years with a large, international retailer, in the busiest city in Canada, gave me invaluable experience managing staff and the nitty gritty of daily operations.

Yearning to be close to family & the mountains, I wound my way across the country to central BC. All my previous experience was put to work in marketing for a public art gallery. Coordinating community events & marketing campaigns, training volunteers and learning the unique aspects of museum retailing. After leading a team that developed the business plan for a gallery shop in the new, 'Class A' (that means national calibre) art gallery, I moved on to follow my dream.

Birth, business and babies

In 2000, Inspire Retail Solutions was born. It has grown up gradually, alongside (and maybe, in spite of) my four children. It grew from my desire to share what I learned along my journey.

That first experience in the grocery store is the essence of retail to me. Retailers meeting the needs of the community. Stores that are a social hub for the neighbourhood. Businesses with unique personalities, reflecting the culture and flavor of the area.

My 10 year-old son summed up my feelings as we strolled through the vibrant & colourful retail strip of Commercial Drive, Vancouver, “I love this street! It's like a little town!”

My passion for working with retailers, is a passion to help build stronger communities.

How do you do it all?

Four kids? And a business? This is often the first question I get when people meet me.

I take on only a handful of select clients a year. The people and projects I work on engage and energize me. My kids learn at home, so we get to make our own choices about how we spend our time. I don't compartmentalize my life. When you hear from me, I might be returning calls while I'm waiting outside a piano lesson, or emailing late after the kids are in bed.

I don't believe in a balanced life. I want an amazing life. A life that is rich and full. I choose what to do next by paying attention to my inner voice, values and relationships; including my relationship to myself. Discovery, learning and creativity drive me. I thrive on new opportunities, new adventures. My business, projects and relationships are the media I use to paint my life. And the best part of all, it's a collaborative work of art.

Pick up your brush, and join me!

Melanie McIntosh
Inspire Retail Solutions

P.S. Some other things I love in life: poetry, exploring the world with my kids, and living in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

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