There is little that a critique group won't get involved in. The members of the Midwest Critique Group, called together last September to consider the market position of Dean's Electronics Inc., a one-store operation in Green Bay, Wis., inspected the facility, interviewed employees, and shopped the competition, but they also sized up the owner's social life. Several members felt that Dean Ridgely's close personal relationship with his general manager, Judy Ann Voss, made things awkward for the store's other employees.

Dick Donaldson, the co-founder of the first appliance dealer's critique group and lead-off speaker at the session for Ridgely, told him point blank that he and Judy should get married; without further ado, Donaldson ushered in a justice of the peace to resolve the matter. After the group got over its surprise, everyone moved to Ridgely's backyard, where the wedding took place. The day before, Ridgely, who had been alerted by Donaldson earlier and liked his get-thee-married suggestion, had set the date.

A few months later, Ridgely reported that his business was doing better since the critique. "I think the critiquers were way off the mark with some of their comments," he observed, "but the fact is that these critiques have done me a lot of good. At my first one, six years ago, I decided to close both of the stores I had at the time and open one brand-new one. This time, I got married. I don't regret either decision."