Mary Liz Curtin is passionate about independent retail. Her knowledge of all aspects of the gift, craft and home industries gives her a unique point of view, encompassing the needs of retailers, vendors and sales representatives. She is also a heck of a retail shopper and loves to crawl malls, discover downtowns and walk through the Web to find ideas and inspirations for her presentations.

With over 35 years of hands-on experience in the gift and home industries, Mary Liz is an internationally acknowledged expert in independent retail and has advised numerous manufacturers on marketing, sales and management issues with her unique brand of Sales and Marketing Therapy.

Although part of Curtin’s retail success depends on maintaining a sense of humor at all times –good economy or bad, she is seriously serious about business and making it work. She has advised companies large and small, drawn crowds at trade show lectures and engaged (and taught) those who listened with her real life examples of what works and what doesn’t. Mrs. Grossman’s Paper Company, eBay, Western Home Furnishings Association, Midwest of Cannon Falls and the Dallas Market Center are among her clients.

She writes the popular Penny Pinching Retailer column, found monthly inside the back cover of Giftware News Magazine and is the author of A Shopkeeper’s Manual, a comprehensive and upbeat guide to running an independent business.

Mary Liz is a humorous and engaging speaker, delighting audiences internationally at trade shows, sales meetings and conventions with her stories of how to build and market a brand, run a better business and maintain a mom-and-pop retail store without losing your sanity…or your marriage.

Mary Liz is past chair of Gift for Life, sits on the Retail Advisory Boards for both the Dallas Market Center and the Gift and Home Channel and chairs the downtown Development Authority in Clawson, Michigan.

Mary Liz lives in Michigan with her patient and understanding husband, two generally well-behaved children and their dogs Spot and Bertie Wooster, all of whom work in the store. Most important of all, Mary Liz is a shopkeeper. She and her husband own Leon & Lulu, a 15,000 square foot destination retail store located just outside Detroit. Leon & Lulu, profitable since its fourth month in business, is an example of building a brand in an out of the way location, using skillful marketing, terrific product and excellent customer service to attract shoppers from the entire metropolitan area and beyond. Located in an historic roller rink, it is a shop unlike any other and has won numerous local and national awards, including the Retail Excellence Award from gift and Dec and an ARTS award for Rising Star retailer, and was named one of Home Accents Today’s 50 Retail stars in 2008.