Bob McNutt

It's not beginning to look a lot like Christmas just yet, but retailers know the importance of preparing early. With 1999 holiday shoppers spending an average of $1,080 on gift purchases, the sheer numbers can be daunting. Now is the time to gear up. "Gearing up" can mean lots of different things, from accepting orders on the Web; to dealing with customers over the phone; to delivering packages on time. There are several details to tend to long before you hear the first Christmas carol. Have a look inside some successful operations to learn how to begin. Christmas is Its Business Collin Street

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