Posts Tagged ‘economy

09
Jan
09

The Paper : My Store

The paper today drew a really bleak picture based on the retail report that came out yesterday.  I really do not want to dispute it, but having had the best Christmas shopping season EVER, I feel like I want to describe a little what was different for us small stores down here.

‘Bad weather came to the Northwest at exactly the wrong time for retailers because it kept people from making last-minute Christmas shopping trips.’

Yes, we had a snow storm and the city came to an aprupt halt.  Before the snow storm hit, it was actually pretty cold and I decided to ride my bike rather than get in the car and slide all around.  When I fell off the bike, I got into the car, only to find out that I cannot get into my garage because of all the snow that had piled up in front of it.  For one week of winter, I am NOT getting studs or mount chains.  I probably would have spent an entire day at the tire store anyway just to GET chains.

So I decided to walk.  In the middle of the road, because it was easier than on the sidewalk in two feet of snow.

“Our customers couldn’t get in; half the time, our employees couldn’t,” said Eddi Miglavs, the owner of Mudpudddles Toys & Books in Sherwood. “We would have been up for the year if it weren’t for the snowstorm at that crucial time.”

Well, it is just me.  And I live 1.5 miles away from my store.  I was open every day of the storm for all my posted hours.  I have seen more people walking than ever. The malls couldn’t plow their parking lots, half their stores were either closed or had limited opening times.  I really believe that big box stores can probably take a hit like this but us small businesses can’t.  I we have to lay ourselves off, we have to close the store.  If we cut our hours,  less people have a chance to shop.  I have seen many more of those ‘last-minute  Christmas shoppers’ than the year before.  More people showed up saying that they lived right around the corner and did not even know we were here.  This snow storm proved to be a blessing:  it was free advertising.  I take a snow storm any time.  Just hold the rain.

I must admit that bigger ticket items did not sell as well as last year.  Shoppers definitivley cut back on their spending.  For gifts or themselves.

It sure helped that I had a lot of socks and mittens.

16
Nov
08

Stay afloat during these times

I do not even want to open the paper anymore.  One of my friends has stopped her subscription to it altogether.  It is downright depressing:  all theses reports on sales being down and people not wanting to spend any money anymore.

What I want to say is this:  Don’t let this get you down, no matter what business you are in.  Because when you feel stressed, anxious or plain afraid, people will notice.  This, too, will pass.  It always does.  It only matters what YOU do in the meantime.

Have a MANTRA:  Think of a positive phrase that you repeat over and over.  Along the lines of  “I believe in myself and my business and I will make money.”  “I deserve it”  “Magic happens”  Believe in your mantra, repeat it often and share it with your supporters.  You will be surprised how your attitude changes.

LOVE your customers:  Let them know that these are hard times but they make a difference.  They support you!  Make them feel special, remember their names, remember their birthdays, remember what they bought the last time, send them a little note.  Give them a discount for their loyalty.

Offer a SERVICE:  Be knowledgeable about your wares and how to care for them.  Refer them to other businesses for accessories, shoes, dry cleaning, watch repair.  Better yet, offer the service in house.  Give them another earring post if they lose one.  Hem their pants.  Offer glue.

BAND TOGETHER with the other businesses on your street or  in your industry.  Have a sale together.  Advertise together and split the cost.  Use the computer whiz, the graphic artist, the photographer, the one who has connections.  It may be a bit more work but the results are amazing.

Be CREATIVE:  I received a big postcard form another clothing store the other day:  Passport for Holiday Savings.  On it, they offered 20% off every kind of merchandise they carry.  For one item each only – but you could potentially save a bundle.  They offered the passport for as long as it takes you to use it up, you can even split it with a friend.  What a great way to get people in.

And last but not least:  SHARE with your colleagues.  How are they doing?  It helps to share.  It helps to share honestly.  Shed the secretive people.  You don’t need them.

l1060545

12
Nov
08

The weather is truly frightening…

… and next month is Christmas!  Ha! – what shocked you more?

Not only is the weather frightening, opening the daily paper these days is too.  Starbucks is closing 61 stores in Australia (did not even know they were there, but then that’s no big surprise) and hundreds here.  People don’t want to pay $4 for a latte.  And while I agree with that, the store closing is on the heels on people not wanting to spend MONEY right now.  DON’T TELL ME THAT JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS!  Like many other stores, I am hoping for a good Christmas season.  A good November/December is not only a good sign for my little store economy – it is also a measure on how happy people feel about their lives.  When they are happy, they want to make others feel happy, too.  Give a little stocking stuffer to everyone in your office and treat yourself to a new pretty outfit.  But if you’re scared and frightened?  You stay tight-lipped and secure your wallet.

So maybe you will get creative this Holiday Season.  You want to give AND you want to treat yourself.  Consider little useful trinkets such as a tool, a book of stamps, soap, a candle as stocking stuffers.  Make something like a cards from pretty paper.  Buy that special person in your life three pairs of pretty socks – people can NEVER have enough pretty socks and never treat THEMSELVES to them.  Dig up an old clothing favorite of your’s and have it taken in/let out/ spruced up – you’ll be amazed at the transition.  Pair the old favorite with a new companion – instead of buying a whole new outfit.

Speaking of which:  consider this website for fashion tips and closet hints.  For your convenience, I have also posted her hints on the sidebar.  She is Dutch, she knows what she is talking about.

akn-flower-skirt-silk-blouse

And to make you happy – check out this happy skirt.




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