At first glance, it seems as though the credit crisis would hit a retailer's account base hard. But Susan Ehrlich has managed to keep Sears Holdings Corp.'s customer count steady with a few old-fashioned tricks.

In the face of a darkening economy and falling consumer spending, she revived Sears' layaway program last Christmas season, which helped the retail giant add one million customer relationships and another $120 million in volume for the fourth quarter 2008.

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