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40-year-old Gloria Nunez has never held a diploma or a job. She lives in subsidized housing and receives disability payments and government assistance. “Depressed and disabled, incapable of getting a job,” she relies on food stamps to help with groceries, although NPR reports that she’s having to cut back on ice cream.

Certainly Gloria is entitled to assistance. Just how much assistance is a matter too profound for me.

Companies are entitled to assistance sometimes, too. The big three automakers just asked for “north of $25 billion” to help re-tool the industry. The New York Times reported that they “have decided — critics would say, belatedly — to shift production from trucks and sport utility vehicles to smaller, more gas-efficient cars, including hybrids.” There are a lot of families riding on their success – or failure.

Can you relate? Has Ms. Jones changed her shopping habits in your industry, too? Did her priorities change? Is she harder to find, more difficult to keep, impossible to please? Are you scrambling to re-tool your store, too?

The days of being entitled to Ms. Jones’ money are over. You have got to earn it. What compelling message do you have to deliver to convince her to come to your store? What can you offer her?

After all, she’s entitled to it – or so she thinks.

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