Sunday, May 3, 2009

No Excuses Edition

Ah, things seem to have suddenly gotten away from me- sickness combined with aggressively promoting a new store event left me with little time to think about this poor neglected blog. No more!

A great video on small business that are thriving in this down economy. The trick? Be different, be flexible, and the customers will find you! I'll take a motivational story any day, thank you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Biz Ladies @ design*sponge

I love the idea of Grace's Biz Ladies posts so very much. I truly look forward to every Tuesday when people just like myself- small business owners- share their tips, tricks, ideas, and amazing talents. If you're not reading, you should be!

Today a few of my favorite retail tips are posted- I'm honored to be included in this project!

(*image via design*sponge)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Retail Tip- Display!

Let’s talk display! What helps you get the most of out of the way you display? Running my shop, I've had some great help and happy accidents, and found these tips have helped me along the way...

- Height. Gotta have it. Make the most of your displays by adding levels of interest. Use boxes, vintage luggage, crates, tall floral, or amazing vertical lighting to keep people’s interest moving around your display.

- Use similar colors. Make groupings of like color for a simple and truly effecting displays. Mix like colors- teal/blue, pinks/reds, or black/white/grey to move people’s attention from group to group. I get the most comments on a display when I saturate the mix with many hues of the same color!

- Collect great vessels of every size. Whenever I’m shopping for vintage for SITE, I always look for great vintage planters, like McCoy Pottery (perfect for little items, like matchbooks or soaps that need keeping), serving trays, suitcases/trunks, and other great vessels that catch my eye. I also heavily rely on my local arts and crafts store (for me, Michaels) and IKEA for coming up with new ways to display things. When in doubt, stick with a theme- I like inexpensive crates from Michaels that I paint with Floral Spray Paint to give them an uneven and somewhat vintage/rustic look. Not your thing? Why not use the ever popular chalkboard paint on just about any simple container and write the price and a fun fact about those items right on the front- people love it when I do this and its affordable and easy to change!

- Move it around! No matter how you do it- perfectly staged rows or the more naturally staged look, make sure you update and change your displays often. I rely heavily on a great steady stream of regulars and if they’re bored, I’m in trouble. Even moving 2-3 products around makes them stop and wonder what’s new.

- Make good use of furniture. If you sell furniture, use the seat of a chair to display that great new tote you just got in, or a stack of vintage magazines. Tables should be staged as you’d like to see them in your own home, but don’t hide too much of the beauty of the furniture for sale- I often get carried away, and before you know it customers are saying, “I had no idea that was for sale” ...Ooops!

- Be creative with jewelry. Jewelry can be hard- do you hide in under glass or keep it out for people to touch, try on, and unfortunately, sometimes abuse? Keeping those little bits and bobbles accessible is a good strategy for those pieces that are not terribly expensive. I love collecting vintage glove molds for necklaces and rings, using tall props and clips for earrings, or my new favorite, a great bulletin board for pinning up an ever changing assortment of earrings, necklaces, and pins. Frame your bulletin board in simple hardware store molding cut with a miter saw (Or! We had our local framer make a decorative edge and assemble ours for a steal!) for a more traditional look or keep the metal or wood edge showing for a more retro look!

ET Says: Here are our top 3 favorite quick, cheap, and fun ways to display:

1. Galvanized Bins like this one- impossible to destroy, easy to move around, and mixes well with so many different styles! We use the really large size for our ever changing pillow selection.

2. Colored Stones like these make a splash on dishware or to cradle delicate jewelry. We also love to nest clear glass vases on these colorful pebbles to make the items really sing!

3. Unfinished Wood items like these make us weak in the knees. Covered in paint or customized with your logo, these are a practical way to store just about anything. Why not create some amazing signage for your displays with these?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Save local business- 3/50

Have a brick and mortar store? There is an interesting movement, 3/50 going around that aims to save the local businesses that built America. Click above, read more, and sign up for their newsletters....and SHOP LOCAL!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Beauty of Economic Crisis

These images of closed stores, while somewhat disturbing, are tender and beautiful and too amazing not to share. Many are stores near where I grew up, I especially love the image of Frank's, a nursery and craft store I spent many, many hours at with my wild and overgrown. With each failure, there is room for newer and better in its place...

See the full slide show here.

(All images by Brian Ulrich c/o Time)

Now Reading...

Lovin' the aptly titled, "On top of everything else, recession is annoying."


A great article filled with lots of DON'TS for all business owners.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Keep In Touch!

How do you stay in contact with your customers? Here are some easy ways to really stand out from the crowd and keep your business in front of those who keep you in business!

1. Keep those contacts comin’! Make sure you make every effort to collect those pesky customer emails. I make sure to at minimum keep a sign up sheet by the register and an easy to use sign up box on our website too. Or! What about offering a drawing, raffle or other incentive to keep those emails rolling in? Have a webshop? Make sure you are capturing emails and putting them into whatever email management system you are using.

{ET says:} While we’re at it. Make sure you send regular, but not too frequent emails to your customers. Don’t be a spammer either, you must collect those emails, don’t go stealing them off blogs or other sites. And don’t be offended when people want to opt out of your list- it’s not personal.

2. Write and say hi! My best friend and Etsy store owner, Em makes amazing postcards of her beautiful vintage wares with Moo, and then hand writes notes to customers thanking them for their purchases and reminding them she has lots of great stock. And her customers LOVE them! Not only are the postcards pretty, but they are so very personal in a digital age. Take the time to do something from the heart and you’ll be thrilled with the results.

{ET says:} We love for cheap, reliable printing of postcards, stickers and other lovely promotional material!

3. Make your emails the best they can possibly be. Use marketing management like Constant Contact or other alternatives to make sharp, professional looking emails. Image really is everything and these low cost services are worth their weight in gold.

Try adding some of these sections to make your emails really sign: Staff favorites, New Product, Events, Featured Artists, What’s Hot (even if that just means sharing what music you’re playing, what new shops you love in your area, etc), or any other Givaways you might be having.

{ET says:} Click here for a fantastic list of alternatives to the ever popular Constant Contact!

4. Don’t forget about the ever popular social media sites. Free networking is never a bad thing. Just make sure your pages on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and the sort are clean and easy to use, properly branded, and add value to your business. Make sure all your pertinent info is there: phone, address, website, and anything else that your customer needs to get in touch with you. After all, that’s the point!