Kevin Graff

President, Graff Retail

Kevin is the President of Graff Retail Inc. He is a retail and training professional with over 20 years of related experience. Founded in 1988, Kevin started what is now Canada’s leading training and consulting firm that specializes in working with retail organizations around the globe.

His years of consulting and delivering speeches and training seminars makes him keenly aware of the real life challenges facing the retail industry. All aspects of the retail operation including hiring and orientation of employees, staff and sales management, customer service initiatives and selling and retail strategies are areas of practical experience and success for Kevin.

Keynote Speaker: Kevin has presented hundreds of keynote addresses to a variety of retail, sales and service business audiences around the globe. Inevitably, the highlight of most conferences.

Author: Authored the books Winning Retail and Selling with Passion. Kevin also writes The Graff Retail Report, a monthly newsletter read by thousands of retailers around the globe.

Trainer Extraordinaire: Kevin consistently receives ratings that exceed 95% when he delivers training programs. Audiences love him!

Program Design: Kevin has lead the development of literally hundreds of training programs and systems over the past 20 years. Of great pride is the accomplishment of having these programs win The Retail Council of Canada’s Best Employee Development Programs Award not once, not twice … FIVE times!

Membership: Kevin is a member of The President’s Club at The Retail Council of Canada. He is also actively involved in several Retail Council of Canada events.

Over the past few years we have had the opportunity to work with clients such as Costco Wholesale, Roots, Sony, Home Hardware, Staples, Canada Post Corporation, Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws and hundreds of other retailers across the globe.

  • Posted on: 11/21/2022

    Will cracking down on serial returners solve retailers’ return problem?

    A liberal return policy is designed to drive sales, not because you just want to give back money. Creating a return policy based on serial returners who abuse it isn't the path to follow. Target and eliminate them from the decision on your return policy. Chasing away good customers is never a good business decision.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2022

    Lowe’s sells its Canadian ops to focus on the U.S.

    Hello from Canada, the land and people that look like Americans (that's a compliment!) but are often misunderstood. Ask Target, Sports Authority and many others who came to the "frigid" north. Lowe's actually did a good job up here. Here's the challenge though: I can count on one hand (don't even need all my fingers) situations where a private equity sale actually works out well. I'm not throwing mud at Sycamore Partners, but my bet would be that this won't have a happy ending for staff or customers in the months and years ahead.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2022

    Chick-fil-A’s three-day workweek gives ‘the gift of time’ to associates

    Perfect example of how a retailer/QSR needs to reinvent their approach to employees. It's a "dog-fight" for talent these days. As I often say, if a competitor opened a shop across the street from you, and was "stealing" your customers by running a better operation, you would quickly pivot your operation to compete and survive. The same approach is needed with how retailers think/act with their employees. While a three-day work week may not fit every operation, it shows that pretty much every retailer needs to significantly up their game to find and keep staff these days.
  • Posted on: 11/04/2022

    Will dynamic pricing work for restaurants?

    Let's start with this line from the article: "Proponents also believe consumers have become accustomed to dynamic pricing through airlines, hotels and Uber." Being accustomed to, and liking something, aren't the same thing. In fact, consider the friction caused by ever-changing prices with airlines, hotels and Uber. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. As noted by the other brilliant minds here, the restaurant industry has always benefited from early bird and happy hour specials, as have customers. The idea is to show a discount -- not to raise your prices just because you're busy. Someone has to keep a closer eye on these IT folks :)
  • Posted on: 10/17/2022

    Are donation requests at the checkout worth the shopper anxiety they cause?

    One of the best solutions for donation requests is tiptap. It takes the pressure off the staff and the customers too. Every now and then, technology actually works the way it's supposed to.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2022

    Does Sephora need a same-day delivery subscription?

    Subscription models are great. But at some point we have to challenge the reality of same-day, two-hour, one-hour delivery models. The impact on the environment of delivering single items can't be ignored. There's so much good research available on the negative impact of same-day delivery. I'm not a "granola cruncher" typically, but watching all the delivery vans/cars racing around these days dropping off single packages makes you wonder what the "emergency" really is.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2022

    Is the customer really the most important thing in retail?

    My most popular keynote these days is "The Customer Comes 2nd!" It's not just intended to be a title that makes people pay attention. It is, in my view, where retail is going, and needs to go. If customers come second, then who comes first? Employees! I'm not saying customers aren't important, but good luck satisfying them on any front when employees aren't happy. These days retailers can't find or even keep enough staff it seems. Look around at so many of the retailers (and the wider business world) and you'll find that the majority of the most successful retailers not only put staff first with words, they invest in them in every way possible.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2022

    Were Crazy Eddie’s commercials pure genius or insanely awful?

    For your Friday viewing pleasure, I give you Oliver Jewellery up here in Canada who ran these commercials not that long ago. They're still in business today. So, maybe it works (for a few, anyway). Oliver Jewellery Cashman Music Video Cashman Original
  • Posted on: 06/03/2022

    Circle K’s new self-checkouts are kicking barcode scanners to the curb

    Couche-Tard has always been an innovator and this is absolutely on the right track. No one really wants to have to "scan" every item. And retailers don't want to have to free up space for a self-checkout lane. Finally a solution that works for both the customer and retailer -- and not just the IT department.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2022

    C-store customers want an app to order ahead

    When I read headlines like this, my first (admittedly cynical) thought is that the study was done/sponsored by a company that provides exactly this type of service. Kind of like when the wine industry came up with "studies" saying the red wine is actually great for you (I really, really want to believe that!). Now, having set aside my cynicism, there's likely some benefit here to explore -- but I'm not sure exactly how much. Convenience stores are just that -- convenient. We use them in the spur of the moment, typically with little planning involved. This might just be another shiny ball distracting from what's needed -- a better convenience store to shop at that's executed properly every day.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2022

    Will Walmart’s career path strategy give it a recruiting advantage?

    Anyone remember when Walmart was viewed as the "evil empire"? Not anymore! They've been on the right path with their staff for a long time now. These new initiatives are fantastic. Now, the reality is that retailers without the immense resources Walmart has can't match this. But they can certainly step up to do better onboarding, and at the same time build succession training programs as part of leading staff to a better career. The theme here is: Look after your staff, and they'll look after you.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2022

    Should Zara (and other retailers) be charging for online returns?

    This was an inevitable outcome for online retailers, just like free shipping was not sustainable for most. The cost of returns are staggering, just like shipping. The outcome of now having to realize the need to charge for returns/shipping is that stores are now more competitive than ever. Consumers may not like the return charge, but somehow I can hear brick-and-mortar stores cheering in the background.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2022

    Do Gen Z workers deserve to be called entitled?

    Every generation blames the one coming up behind them. I have books on my shelves about how to "solve" Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and now Gen Z. Every one is a product of their political, social and economic upbringing/background. Traditionalists respected authority (think about the times they lived in). Boomers worked ridiculous hours -- how else were you going to survive and get ahead amidst the glut of talent? Gen Z ain't perfect -- then again, no generation ever was. As we say, if your customer changes, you need to change. Accordingly, if your staff change, you need to change how you lead and manage them.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2022

    Are tattoos no longer taboo on retail selling floors?

    Well, I got my first tattoo on my 60th birthday -- from my very own son who's an amazing tattoo artist! So, I might be a bit biased. Certainly with all the focus on DEI initiatives, having a tattoo is completely acceptable. Some of the very best store managers I've trained have lots of tattoos. Get past how someone looks, tattoos or not, and assess them on their character and skills.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2022

    Locals fight to keep warehouses out of their neighborhoods

    Amazon tried (and failed) to open a big distribution center on the edge of my neighborhood last year. This isn't a NIMBY issue. Quality of life trumps getting yet another package that won't save your life an hour earlier. Be wary of what it seems people want (unsustainable fast delivery), because when those same people shine the light on the impact of making that possible (like a 24-hour, non-stop traffic, noise creating distribution center), suddenly getting your "toothpaste" delivered in an hour just isn't that important.

Contact Kevin


  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.