retail quotes

36 Retail Quotes That Inspire Entrepreneurs (2023)

Owning a retail business can be rewarding. But wearing a thousand hats a day can lead to overwhelm and burnout. 

On the days when you need a reminder about why you started your business in the first place, reading inspirational retail quotes can reignite the passion to grow your retail business. 

At Shopify, we want to help inspire you. That’s why we’ve created a list of 36 uplifting retail quotes from successful retailers and leaders to help motivate you and your team. 

Happy reading. 

Unify your sales channels with Shopify

Only Shopify unifies your sales channels and gives you all the tools you need to manage your business, market to customers, and sell everywhere in one place.

Retail quotes to inspire every day

On mission

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” ―Simon Sinek

Author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Key takeaway: The products or services you sell aren’t the reason you start a business. They’re a means to reaching a larger goal. When your team, suppliers, collaborators, and customers buy into that goal too, selling becomes the easy part.

On vision

“Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger.” ―Tony Hsieh

CEO of Zappos and author of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Key takeaway: Don’t think about reasons not to do something, start by thinking about what you would do if there were no barriers in your way. How big would you go? What could you achieve? 

On problem solving

“Everything is figureoutable.” ―Marie Forleo

Motivational speaker, life coach, and author

Key takeaway: No matter how big a problem seems, there’s always a solution. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, focus on your options and your next steps.

On grit

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” ― Amelia Earhart

Aviation pioneer and author

Key takeaway: Being a retail entrepreneur allows you the freedom of being your own boss and making your own choices, but it’s not all roses every day. It takes tenacity and grit to keep going, stay innovative, and keep on growing, even in the face of failures.

On giving back

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” ―Booker T. Washington

American educator, author, orator, and adviser to presidents of the United States

Key takeaway: Ninety-one percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that supports social or environmental issues. As well as being good for your brand, giving back can energize you and your team to reach your goals.

On passion

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” ―Steve Jobs

Co-founder of Apple

Key takeaway: The notion of loving what you do isn’t a novel concept, and yes, it’s slightly cliché. But it takes passion to be dedicated to your retail business, as it’s a 25-hour-a-day job. Steve Jobs was Apple, and Apple was Steve Jobs, and this quote has become even more impactful in light of Jobs’ death at the height of his career.

On happiness

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” ―Seth Godin

Bestselling author of 18 books, marketer, public speaker, and entrepreneur

Key takeaway: As a retail entrepreneur, you need to love what you do. Everyone needs a vacation once in a while, but if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, your day-to-day work will feel like a vacation. Isn’t that the ultimate dream?

On mindset

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” ―Henry Ford

Founder, Ford Motor Co.

Key takeaway: Often, thoughts can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you start by believing you can achieve what you want to achieve, you’ll keep pushing until you do. 

On self-reflection

“Every action is an opportunity to improve.” ―Mark Graban

Author, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation, consultant, speaker, podcaster, and entrepreneur

Key takeaway: No matter how good you think you are or how well you think you’re doing, there’s always space to do even better. Reflect, appreciate the great work, and look for an opportunity to improve.

Retail quotes for when you’re starting out 

On first steps

“The only thing worse than starting something and failing is not starting something.” ―Seth Godin

Bestselling author of 18 books, marketer, public speaker, and entrepreneur

Key takeaway: All the planning in the world isn’t enough to be certain of success, but if you never start, you’ll never be successful. People often say they regret the things they didn’t do far more than the things they did, so on your mark, get set, go!

On consistency

“People like consistency. Whether it’s a store or a restaurant, they want to come in and see what you are famous for.” ―Mickey Drexler

CEO and chairman, J. Crew Group

Key takeaway: Building customer trust and loyalty takes time. They want to know what they’re getting and they don’t want an unpleasant surprise. It goes deeper than having the same products and services—it’s about how you communicate and how you make decisions. 

On taking risks

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” ―Paulo Coelho

Key takeaway: If you never try to do something, you’ll never gain the experience of knowing what works and what doesn’t. It’s good to calculate the risk-versus-reward ratio, but taking a chance usually delivers better results than retreating.

On innovation

“I learned to push the envelope when it comes to asking questions or making requests. And if you hear ‘that’s not possible,’ then ask ‘what is possible,’ instead of just saying thank you and leaving.” ―Emily Weiss

Founder, Glossier

Key takeaway: The “done” way isn’t always the best way. People often say things aren’t possible because they’ve never managed to succeed in making them work. If you see a way to do something differently, try it.

On curiosity

“Like most retailers, we don’t know exactly where we will land at the end of it, but our curiosity and willingness to create will be a guide for us.” ―Jesper Brodin 


Key takeaway: Sometimes you have an idea of what you want to achieve, but you’re not sure how to get there. Sometimes, you create purely for the sake of creating. Curiosity takes you to a place you didn’t even know you wanted to go.

On simplicity

“We have a very complex business where we make our own products that we manufacture, distribute, and sell across multiple channels in different markets across the globe. We need to introduce simplicity into our systems where we can.” ―Paul Stephens

Head of data and technology, Neal’s Yard Remedies

Key takeaway: Some parts of business and retail are complicated. There’s not much you can do about that, but where there are opportunities to make processes and other tasks simple, take them.

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On setting goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” ―Tony Robbins

Key takeaway: Seeing the place you want to get to can make you push harder to get there. 

On action

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” ―Henry Ford

Founder, Ford Motor Co.

Key takeaway: Planning and setting goals is important, but it’s not worth anything to anyone if they can’t see you do it. Instead of just thinking about it, go out there and do it!

On fundraising

“I approached fundraising as an opportunity to align myself with partners who have more varied experience and diverse backgrounds than I do to help bring Glossier to life.” ―Emily Weiss

Founder, Glossier

Key takeaway: Investment is sometimes seen as a purely financial remedy to a challenge. It can be, but there are also opportunities to bring in expertise from people who can support your business in other ways. 

On partnerships

“The biggest sources of opportunity are collaboration and partnership. And today, with digital communication, there is more of that everywhere. We need to expose ourselves to that as a matter of doing business.” ―Mark Parker

CEO, Nike

Key takeaway: There are often valid reasons to be wary of social media and other forms of digital communication, but when you use them wisely, you create opportunities to collaborate with the brightest minds in every corner of the world.

On opportunity

“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.” ―Henry Ford

Founder, Ford Motor Co.

Key takeaway: In the modern workplace, we understand the importance of breaks and work-life balance, but Henry Ford wasn’t wrong to suggest that there are moments of opportunity, where you can get ahead of your competitors. Do an extra 30 minutes of training, find solutions to speed up your processes, or even meditate—that’s both relaxing and productive.

Retail quotes to lead employees

On culture

“Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.” —Tony Hsieh

CEO, Zappos

Key takeaway: A bad company culture doesn’t just affect employees. It leaks out to suppliers, collaborators, and ultimately customers. Keep employee satisfaction high for a better chance at keeping customer satisfaction high too.

On employee happiness

“Too many businesses today are based on driving prices lower by screwing over somebody: pounding suppliers or squeezing employees. We’re the opposite. We put our employees first. If you take care of them, they will take care of your customers better than anybody else.” —Kip Tindell

Co-founder, Container Store

Key takeaway: What happens internally makes a huge difference to what your customers see and feel about your company. Stick to your values and treat everybody in every corner of your business with respect and integrity.

On employee loyalty

“I believe that if they’re feeling good about the company, then they’re going to stay with me a long time. I’ve been in business 10 years, and I have staff who’ve been with me eight years. So that’s really important to me, because then they build up a clientele as well.” —Janet Wright

Owner, FloorPlay Socks

Key takeaway: You can’t do everything yourself, but having to constantly train new employees to replace old ones is just as hard. If you treat your employees well so they want to stay and do their best work every day, you can concentrate on making your wider business strategy a success. 

On leadership

“When you look at the reasons people leave companies, it’s usually because their boss is a jerk or because they aren’t learning and growing. So we spend a lot of time developing leaders internally and creating learning opportunities.” —Neil Blumenthal

Co-CEO, Warby Parker

Key takeaway: Good leaders are able to quickly assess needs and support their staff in improving or reaching goals. Most employees don’t react well to being used like a blunt tool.

Retail quotes to delight

On standing out

“You walk into a retail store, whatever it is, and if there’s a sense of entertainment and excitement and electricity, you wanna be there.” —Howard Schultz

Former CEO, Starbucks

Key takeaway: Why do your customers keep coming back? They want that buzz, that energy, that va-va-voom. Make sure they get the core products that they love and then delight them with a little extra.

On customer experience

“People are always going to go shopping. A lot of our effort is just ‘How do we make the retail experience a great one?’” —Phillip Green

Chairman, Arcadia Group

Key takeaway: Although it’s unlikely that people will stop shopping, much of it will move online. So you need to compete to get people into a brick-and-mortar store, plus you have to find ways to stand out online. A lot of that comes down to the experience you provide before, during, and after a customer buys something.

💡 PRO TIP: Offering in-store pickup as a delivery method at checkout is a great way to get more online shoppers to visit your store. To get started, enable local pickup availability in Shopify admin to show online shoppers whether a product is available for pickup at one of your stores.

On store design

“My company is an extension of me, so when I designed my stores, I wanted people to feel that they were in my home.” ―Tory Burch

Founder and creative director, Tory Burch

Key takeaway: A brick-and-mortar store is much more than a location to sell. It’s a chance for brand marketing, to show the world your personality, and to build strong customer relationships.

On emotion

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” —Damon Richards

Key takeaway: Most people don’t remember conversations in full, but they do remember how moments made them feel. Sales is all about building relationships, so if you can delight your customer, they’ll be more willing to tune in to any logical arguments,

On connection

“Nobody in my shop’s allowed to stand behind the counter unless they’re actually ringing somebody up. It’s greeting, it’s listening. It’s a very traditional customer service approach.” —Cricket Newman

Owner, Cricket Newman Designs

Key takeaway: Connect with your customers and break down barriers. Standing behind a counter with your phone in your hand is not a great look. Give your customers space but be ready the moment they need you.

On trust

“Our brands—Nike, Converse, Jordan Brand, and Hurley—are loved by customers all over the world. But we never take that for granted. We know that every day we have to earn their trust—by serving them completely and adding real value to their lives through products and experiences.” —Mark Parker

Executive chairman, Nike

Key takeaway: It’s an old saying, but it doesn’t make it any less true: Trust is hard won and easily lost. That’s even more significant in business, and the consequences of losing trust can be devastating. Customers will stop buying from you, and in the modern, digital world, they’ll very quickly tell a lot of people about their bad experiences.

On staying customer-centric

“Retail is a customer business. You’re trying to take care of the customer, solve something for the customer. And there’s no way to learn that in the classroom or in the corner office or away from the customer. You’ve got to be in front of the customer.” —Erik Nordstrom

CEO, Nordstrom Direct

Key takeaway: Customers are at the heart of everything you do, so make sure every decision you make has them as your focal point. You can support your customers and you can learn from them too.

Retail quotes to save time

On memory

“You cannot run a successful retail business from memory.” —Josh Hartford

Key takeaway: There’s too much to remember in business to rely on memory alone. What happens when you’re not there or you have to change a process? Get the right tools to manage inventory and purchases, making it easier to operate from day to day.

💡 PRO TIP: Shopify POS comes with tools to help you control and manage your inventory across multiple store locations, your online store, and your warehouse. Forecast demand, set low-stock alerts, create purchase orders, know which items are selling or sitting on shelves, count inventory, and more.

On efficiency

“One order management system, one database, one inventory. Without these you will never seem seamless to your customer.” —Andy Laudato

COO of The Vitamin Shoppe

Key takeaway: Staying on top of multiple systems can become a job in itself if you’re not careful. If you can, add all of your tasks to one platform and use it as the basis of your work. It’ll make your business run much more smoothly.

On productivity and focus

“If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” ―Greg McKeown

Author, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Key takeaway: If you have to rethink every decision a thousand times, you’ll never get anything done. Make sure you have a process in place for making decisions and choose where you want to focus. That way, you’ll be certain whether or not you want to say yes. If there’s even a slight doubt, say no.

On change and agility

“Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” ―Seth Godin 

Bestselling author of 18 books, marketer, public speaker, and entrepreneur

Key takeaway: It can be hard to make a change in business, especially if things are going well, but sometimes change is vital to keep up or to get ahead. If you see an opportunity for change, go through your decision-making process and say yes or no. Don’t say maybe and say yes later, because by that point, it’s usually too late.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” ―Tony Robbins

Life and success coach, author of self-help books like Unlimited Power, Unleash the Power Within, and Awaken the Giant Within

Key takeaway: The essence here is that if you stick to the same formula and are afraid of change, then you are likely to get the same (average) results. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and be in tune with changing trends and the competition.

Take away the retail quotes that inspire you

There are many powerful retail quotes above and you can’t absorb them all. So take away the words of wisdom that inspire you the most. Look back at them when you need to lead, delight, save time, or simply make the most of every day. 

Unify your sales channels with Shopify

Only Shopify unifies your sales channels and gives you all the tools you need to manage your business, market to customers, and sell everywhere in one place.

Retail quotes FAQ

What are some popular inspirational quotes that I can use to motivate my retail team?

We’ve shared many inspirational retail quotes above. Choose the ones that align with your team’s values and goals, and the culture of your store.

How can I display inspirational retail quotes in my store?

You can display inspirational quotes in various ways:

  • On walls or murals for customers and staff to see
  • On packaging or receipts to share with customers
  • In staff break rooms to motivate employees
  • On social media to engage with both customers and staff

The method you choose depends on your branding, space, and who you’d like to target with the message.

Can using inspirational quotes in my retail store really make a difference in sales or staff performance?

While the impact of inspirational quotes on sales might not be directly measurable, they can contribute to a positive atmosphere. This can boost employee morale, improve customer experience, and foster a community that values your brand. In turn, these factors may positively influence sales and staff performance.

Can I legally use famous quotes in my marketing materials?

Generally, using quotes in marketing is OK, as long as you attribute the quote to the person who said it. However, it’s always wise to consult with a legal professional to understand the specific legalities so you can make sure you’re complying with copyright laws and not infringing on someone’s intellectual property rights.

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