New Shop on the Block Said “I Do” and Discovered Retail Success!

By Lisa Wohlhart, 4/26/2010

RetailerShowcase1One of the most effective ways to stand out from retail competition and stay in your customers mind is to create your own retail environment and brand yourself as a destination.  Specialty Shops have a great advantage over “big box” retailers today as they have the unique advantage to personally interact with their customers, get to know them and make the overall shopping experience fun. A great way to do this is through events.

New to the industry but no stranger to retail, Laura Mooney, owner of the Spotted Giraffe in Jensen Beach Florida, learned this quickly after hosting a successful grand opening this past October. She has since then started to incorporate the use of events and promotions into her business to drive traffic to her boutique.

RetailerShowcase2Most recently Laura decided to host her first and biggest themed event to date, a Bridal event. The thought sparked after receiving a OneCoast wedding email blast and reading tips from the OneCoast online Event Resource.

“I carry a large selection of Mud Pie wedding” Laura explained. “Since no one around me carries wedding products like these, I wanted to show brides and wedding planners the unique wedding party gifts and serviceware I have to offer.”

A perfect time to get a jump start on the upcoming wedding season, Laura decided right then and there to host a bridal event at the end of the month and make herself a destination.

RetailerShowcase3With not a lot of time in front of her, Laura went straight to planning. In order to create a bigger draw to her event, she partnered with local businesses and planners that cater to the bridal industry. They agreed to donate items or services in exchange for advertising their services the day of the event.  She created bridal-like wedding invitations and emailed them out to her customer database and handed them out around town. Laura also forwarded the invites out to the vendors she partnered with for them to pass along to their customers. She placed additional orders with vendors so she had enough stock on hand and arranged for a raffle prize for customers to enter and win.

“As I got closer to the day of the event, I took another quick look at the OneCoast event bridal guide to see if there was anything else I could do to add value to my customers” Laura explained. “I saw the suggestion to create a bridal registry and immediately thought…I can’t do that!  But then I thought…why couldn’t I do that?

Laura used the idea and came up with a similar solution and developed a paper bridal registry. She created a product showcase in excel that featured photos, descriptions, dimensions and pricing and then “dressed it up a little” to make it more attractive.

bridal-5“The registry was time consuming, but well worth it” Laura explained “it was an easier and faster way to show couples the full lines of products we have to offer. I have a smaller store but I also offer special ordering for my customers. This allows me to offer more than what I can put on my floor.”

It was now the day of the event, March 30, 2010.  The event was to go from 6-9pm.  Laura was filled with nerves and excitement.  “Will everything get done, will people show, will the vendors I partnered with follow through?” Laura shared with us.

It was moments before six, nice wedding music started to play in the background and the hors d’oeurves started to come out and, brides to be, planners and customers started to roll in. There was a lot of mingling, interaction and even some sales going on.

“I was pleased with the turnout of events” said Laura “I had a 25% increase in business that day as well as 11 brides that opened a bridal registry with me. I love the thought of the bridal registry and I’m so glad I did it. My store is now marketed to everyone that is invited to the Brides wedding shower and wedding. It really continues to put my store out there in front of people”.

With a few events under her belt now, Laura continues to think about what event to do next.  Pleased with the results from her last event, she’s always looking for ways to make the next event better and learn from each experience. What she does know is that to succeed and stay afloat, especially in these times, you need to market yourself and keep yourself at the top of your customers mind and set yourself apart from your competition. “You just have to commit, spend a little time and just do it” she says.

bridal-3A Look Inside: Q & A on best categories, trends & successes

Q: What are your best product categories?
A: The vendor products that sell best are: Lindsay Phillips, Mud Pie, Blue Sky Imports, and Kay Dee Design.

Q: What’s the biggest trend you are seeing in your store?
A: The biggest trend I’m seeing is personalized items. I carry bags/totes; I can say 95% of the time customers ask me to monogram their items.

Q: What categories sell best in your store?

A: SwitchFlops (Taylor & Lilly), Mud Pie (rubberwood cutting boards, Wedding party gifts, bags/totes), and Kay Dee (Apron’s).

Q:  What makes your store unique and keeps customers coming back?

A: Customer service: Friendly staff, knowledge of products.  If I don’t have the item in stock, I will go out of my way to get the product for you. We offer free gift wrapping, and we can ship your gift. I sample the gourmet products I sell.

Q:  What has been your best event you’ve held to date? What events do you plan to hold next?

A: The best event would be the wedding event; it’s the first themed one I’ve hosted.

Q:  What are the next events you are thinking about hosting?

A: a Fourth of July Event and definitely a Christmas Open House.  There will be more in-between but those are the more definite ones I am thinking about.

Q:  Beside events, what do you do to market yourself?

A: I have taken advantage of an empty store front at the other end of the mall, and displaying my products in the window. I always wear what I sell.

Q: What ONE IDEA would you like to share with our fellow retailers?

A: My one idea to share with others is to think outside of the box when decorating your windows, be creative that’s what draws your customers in. I’m always researching for new and unusual ideas. For the wedding event, I asked a local consignment shop to borrow a wedding gown and incorporated that into my display.

How to Create a Wedding Cake Display in Your Store

By Marc Dudley, Director of Visual Merchandising

Creating a beautiful wedding display in your store will not only attract the brides but will also make regular customers think of reasons to purchase them. Create the need to purchase a wedding gift by dedicating an area of your store to a bridal display. This month’s merchandising idea will focus on creating a Wedding Cake display that is sure to capture your customer’s attention.

Merchandising1What you will need to get started:

  1. 48” round table
  2. Round riser, approx. 30” in diameter and 9” in height
  3. Round riser, approx. 22” in diameter and 9” in height
  4. Three pieces of round white styrofoam:    16”, 12”, and 8” diameter
  5. Satin or bengaline table cloth in color of your choice and fabric pieces to cover the 30” and the 22” risers to match the table cloth
  6. Garlands and floral picks for “decorating” your cake
    • ivy garlands for spring
    • Hydrangea garlands for  summer
    • Lily of the valley, Nosegay,    Grapes,    Dried berries or cones

Merchandising2Step 1:  Putting the cake together

  • Cover the table with cloth
  • Put the 30” diameter riser in the center of the table
  • Put the 22” diameter riser in the center of the previous riser
  • Drape the fabric pieces over the top 2 risers, pressing in place and pinning if necessary to create the “icing” on your cake
  • Decorate your cake with pieces of garland, flowers, stems, etc. As if to look like a beautiful wedding cake.

Step 2:  The cake topper

  • Merchandising3Stack the three white styrofoam pieces together, using floral picks and low-temp glue to hold together
  • Decorate heavily with floral buds, grapes cascading down, crystal rhinestones, hearts, or other pieces of décor to create the top of your cake
  • Allow all this decoration to flow down the top of the cake for a stunning visual effect

Step 3:  Merchandising your cake

  • Merchandising5Selecting items from your store or wedding boutique, begin to place the merchandise on the 3 tiers of your beautifully created wedding cake
  • Cross merchandise your vendor items for multiple sales
  • Make sure all items are visible and are available for impulse sales
  • Group items together, and don’t forget the negative space. Be sure not to crowd the items

Create a Stunning Mother’s Day Display using few Simple Steps

By Marc Dudley, Director of Visual Merchandising

If you are doing your display window, or an in-store vignette, there are three things that you must ask yourself:

  1. What are you selling?
  2. What image are you projecting?
  3. Who is your customer?

You should know your store and customers like you know your mother.  Is she June Cleever or Donna Reed? Maybe Louise Jefferson, or Peg Bundy.  Or perhaps she is a combination of all.
Know what it is you are selling, to whom, and the image you want to portray.

Your seasonal vignette is in your store for a short time and should hit your customers the minute they enter the store, so placement is important.  Position the display where it can be seen immediately and also from the window if possible.

Your display should be eye-catching. What is it going to take to get your customer to notice this display and want to buy something? This can be achieved by the use of

  • Color and theme
  • Large, oversized props
  • Tall floral
  • Use of air space above

Building Your In-store table display for Mother’s Day

  1. Use a 36” round table (or a size that is appropriate for your store)
  2. Cover with a full, flowing, soft floral cloth.  Keep in mind that Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May when spring is in the air and the flowers are beginning to bloom.  Color is a welcome change to the dull of winter. Color is your friend…don’t be afraid of using it.
  3. On top of the table, add a solid color square cloth that extends approximately  8 to 12 inches over the edge.  Choose a color that will coordinate with the floral underskirt and will complement your product.
  4. In order for your product to be seen clearly, use risers for different levels.  Make sure all the merchandise can be easily seen, touched, and purchased.  Here are some ideas on creating your own risers
    • coordinated hat boxes
    • flower pots (either clay or painted) 
    • product boxes (your store boxes or simply wrap boxes with colorful paper)
    • Stacks of books especially if you sell them in the store. Not only is this eye-catching, but this also adds color and serves a purpose.  
    • Use different sizes and heights and be creative. 
    • Use a tall vase of silk flowers to add height to the table.  Forsythia, cherry blossom, quince, or dogwood are good silk stems to use and readily available in spring.  Simply put several tall stems in a clear cylindrical vase and place on the table.  Usually stems that are 3 to 4 feet in height work well and can be very dramatic.
    • Choose your merchandise and place on the levels and on the table so that everything can be seen easily.  
  5. Tell a story with the product and group the items so that they work together, and can produce multiple sales. 
  6. Put a picture frame and a pair of candle holders together, or group a bowl of potpourri with a decorative vase.
  7. Utilize your air space to the fullest.  Too often air space is overlooked.  This can be achieved with signage: 
    • Signage in the shape of a ladies hat or a purse
    • Signage in the shape of a greeting card that simply states date of Mother’s Day or “don’t forget mom” or “thank you, mom”.

Most importantly, don’t allow the color, floral, or props to overpower the display.  It must all work together to enhance the product that you are selling.

Just remember mother— how beautifully stylish she is;  always together and coordinated from her hat, pearls, gloves, down to her seemed stocking and heels washing the dishes… or in her peg-legged stretch pants, leopard crop top and biker boots as she mounts her Harley and heads into the sunset on May 9th, Mother’s Day.

Be creative and remember that you are only limited to your own imagination!

Celebrate Mother’s Day with an In-Store Event

1. Your  Theme:  A Salute to Mom!  Mother’s Day is a time to recognize mom and acknowledge her contribution in our lives.  The month of May brings us the wonderful opportunity to celebrate the unique occasion called Mother’s Day.

2. Make your party FUN!!!

  • Post mother’s best advice throughout your store: ‘don’t run with scissors’, ‘eat your vegetables’, ‘look both ways before you cross the street’- This is sure to bring a smile to your customers, and it’s still good advice today.
  • Ask a local elementary school class to draw pictures of their moms and write what they love most about them. Frame the works in inexpensive frames and post throughout the store. These results are sure to be charming and provide some fun viewing for all.  Pick a winner and award the child’s mom a gift card to your store. You are sure to have a customer for life.

3. Music:

  • The music should reflect your theme. Here are some suggestions:
    • Mama Mia by ABBA
    • Mama I Love You by The Spice Girls
    • Thank you Mom by Good Charlotte
    • The Best Day by Taylor Swift
    • Your Mama Don’t Dance and Your Daddy Don’t Rock ‘N Roll by Loggins & Messina
    • Mama I’m Coming Home by Ozzie Osbourne
    • In My Daughter’s Eyes by Martina McBride
    • Mother and Child Reunion by Paul Simon
    • I Turn to You by Christina Aguilera

4. Drinks & Appetizers:

  • Veggies & dip, cheese & crackers- easy finger food, mom would appreciate.
  • Fresh Fruit skewers , easy & healthy
  • Chocolate chip cookies- fresh baked, like mom used to make
  • Lemonade and Iced Tea

5. Give Away ideas:

  • A single flower stem presented to each mom who enters the store- daisies or daffodils are affordable. Carnations are inexpensive and are associated with Mother’s Day.
  • A small living plant for all moms
  • Any special treat- a decadent truffle or chocolate dipped strawberry to each mom making a purchase
  • A small frame, charm, spa product, tied with ribbon for added value – contact your best reps for donations & contributions

6. Prize Drawings:

  • A luxurious basket loaded with some of your best products- contact your reps & local services (salons, spas, masseuse, etc) for contributions
  • Gourmet food basket
  • Winner of the drawing wins a gift card to your store for their next visit

7. Promotions

  • Promote gifts for Mom – personal care, fashion accessories or personalized gifts etc.
  • Pull displays together by price point and by theme – entertaining, gardening, fashion accessories, etc.
  • Give a discount on multiple buys and companion product – buy the robe, get a discount on the slippers purchase.  You get the idea
  • Buy two, get one free accomplishes two goals- You move product and your customers benefit from the great buys

8. Something extra special: Moms deserve a little pampering, and don’t always get it.

  • Offer 15 minute massages by a local spa – Remember,  mom’s job is hectic and stressful
  • Set up manicure and pedicure stations if room allows. Partner up with the local salon/beauty school.

9. Marketing

  • Create event flyers and insert them into every customer’s bag at purchase
  • Send an e-mail blast to your customer base inviting them to the event with a special offer for them and a friend (Great word of mouth advertising and you could double your traffic.)
  • Ask them to print the eblast and bring to the event or mention the invitation to be eligible for a special discount, treat, gift, etc.  This allows you to track the effectiveness of your emarketing.
  • Post your event on Community Bulletin Board and your local hot spots
    • Local Coffee Shops
    • Local Restaurants
  • Invite your local media to the event

10. Partner up with a charity

  • Any women’s or children’s charity
  • Local Garden Club (someone with a membership can help promote the event)
  • May is associated with Breast Cancer Walks, contact your local chapter.  Customers can sign up for a BC walk, or pledge money. You can give a portion of the day’s proceeds to the cause.
  • HINT: Tying your event to a charity can give you great PR. Inform your local TV channels, newspapers, radio stations and invite them to your event.

11. Set your event apart:

  • This will take some pre-planning, but will help ‘hype’ your event. Run a Mother’s Day Contest among your customers.  Start in advance of your event by asking for essays in 100 words or less stating why their mom is special.  Make it fun and announce the winner on event day. A pre-selected panel will read the entries and vote. The prize can be one of the gift baskets, and a store gift card- or even a gift certificate to a local spa (donated for the winner).
  • Don’t forget the spring gift giving season is upon us- Mothers, Dads, Grads, birthdays, & Weddings are your targets.  These occasions are ‘recession proof’. Be ready with your ‘silent sales person’ – the beautiful displays you put together.
  • If your store gift wraps, be sure you are ready with gift appropriate wrapping paper for all the possibilities.  Think about offering free gift wrap on event day or free with a minimum purchase.