Bill Clinton Discusses Bookstores, Tax Reform, and High-End Manufacturing at NRF Conference

“I helped you with your growth,” former president and keynote speaker Bill Clinton said to retailers today in an onstage interview with Macy’s CEO and NRF chairman Terry Lundgren at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York. In response to Lundgren’s question about where Clinton shops, the former president mentioned several retailers.

"There's a wonderful jewelry store in Chappaqua, near where I live, and I always get something there for Chelsea and Hillary and people who work for me," Clinton said. "My daughter and son-in-law love books so there's a wonderful book store where I always shop around Christmas time, called Argosy [in Midtown Manhattan], run now by three sisters. I've been shopping there on and off for almost thirty years."

Clinton added that he bought books for his son-in-law, daughter, and several friends and was "morose" that bookstores have been closing. "I always try to help the small businesses around Christmas time," Clinton said.

In regard to jobs and high-end manufacturing, Clinton referred to the specialty glass and ceramics manufacturer Corning Glass.

"Here in New York my favorite example is Corning Glass...they've always kept...manufacturing and laboratory research close to each other so they can check on both right away," Clinton noted. "I think the manufacturing strategy ought to give people incentives to do this and then you don't need artificial protective barriers that in the end try to protect jobs that you probably can't save anyway in the lower end."

Clinton also discussed tax reform for small businesses. "A lot of small businesses are subchapter S corporations. They pay individual income tax rates. ...But as a practical matter, it can put you at a real disadvantage, so we may have to think of a different system. ...There are many reductions and credits that could be consolidated," Clinton said.

Lundgren closed his interview with Clinton by asking him to name the best advice he has received, as well as the most influential person in his life.

Clinton spoke about his mother, who had been widowed three times, and described her as a "tough broad" who taught him to never give up, as well as about advice his wife shared with him.

"Hillary has had a huge positive influence on my life, and she showed me something that says 'people should attempt to take criticism seriously and not personally...so my two pieces of advice would be life's over soon enough, don't quit before it's over, and keep your ears open to criticism."

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