Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cooler Weather & A New Cookbook From Ree Drummond

There is something about even slightly cooler weather which lifts the spirits of a retailer.
This summer not only has the weather been sort of unusual, the normal shopper has not been visiting local stores.  One can never analyze this kind of situation and come up with a very specific and accurate answer to why this summer has been a slow shopping season.
Of course, we retailers speculate all the time about such things.  What are we doing wrong?  Where are all the normal shoppers?  Is it the economy?  Is it the severe drop in oil prices?  Is it just too hot to get out?  Are people tired of the rain?
You can see how such questions generate a panic and a continual commentary.  When a sales rep visits, we give that person "the 3rd degree".  What has he or she been seeing in other cities?  Other states?  What is the word on the street? 
Of course, if retailers aren't ordering, then sales reps aren't getting their commissions.  In many respects, everything is tied together and each element affects the others.  Sometimes it feels like we are in a bumper car, crashing into others whom we can't even see until they are right there in front of us.
So, back to how weather affects the attitude of retailers.
Cooler weather means 4th Quarter and 4th Quarter means (1) more shoppers  (2) lots of new and fresh merchandise (3) store promotions  (4) holiday parties  (5) gift baskets and candy buffets  (6)  frequent visits from favorite sales reps  (7)  gift with purchase promotions  (8)  new ribbon, new gift bags, new merchandising  (9)  more hours for staff members  (10) lots of things to be grateful for!!
That's what I am thinking at the moment.  And a new cookbook from Ree Drummond!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cecil and "Beanie" Baby: A Sleazy Story

Remember Beanie Babies?  They are still around and so is Ty Warner, the founder of the Ty company who has recently been accused of hiding $96 million in a Swiss bank account to avoid paying taxes on all the money he earned from those little plush animals.
The Plea Agreement which the judge accepted in this case against Ty Warner was based on $5 million evasion, not on the $96 million Warner clearly stashed away to avoid paying taxes.
Normally someone accused of this sort of crime is given jail time of up to 4 years, 9 months.
Warner was given probation and community service.
Bernie Madoff was given 150 years in prison for a similiar crime.
Now Ty Warner has announced the creation of Cecil the Lion Beanie Baby in memory of the beloved 13-year-old lion killed on July 2, 2015 at the Hwange National Park in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe.
What kind of sleazy business is this, that Warner is going to make a bunch of money off the tragic and illegal killing of this lion?
On the one hand, consumers' hearts will be touched by this little plush lion.  On the other hand, consumers who purchase this plush animal will just be supporting Ty Warner and his unacceptable ability to make millions off the killing of that lion.
I guess you can tell that I am a bit incensed about this whole situation.
I clearly remember going to the Dallas Market several times where the Ty company had a large area in the Temporary Booths, roped off and secured by Security Guards.  If you wanted in to check out the Ty plush, you had to wait until someone else left and you were watched carefully by the guards as if you were going to steal one of the samples.
 What sort of comment is this on good faith between a manufacturer and his customers?  Once again, a black eye on the face of the retail world.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sweet Tooth Production Company

I am on a survey list from a trade magazine called Gift Beat.  Every month I receive a survey asking questions about trends, which products are selling best, if sales are up or down, etc. etc.
Sometimes I have been able to add a comment about something we are doing at Sweet Tooth which is different from what others might be doing, or from what we have been doing in the past.
Occasionally I have even been quoted in Gift Beat, but most of the time I am listed as "an Oklahoma retailer"!!!
Once the magazine did a feature story on our store.  That was fun.
Recently, if you follow us on Facebook, Instagram or get our email newsletter you may have noticed that Jeff is totally into producing videos for these.  And we are finding that the videos get more attention than any text we write.
That makes sense, doesn't it?  Our world is full of movement, music, commercial messages, pop ups on the internet, and we are all becoming more attuned to videos than we are to words.  The message of 1 or 2 minutes is what we are accustomed to seeing on television and now on our computers. 
I know that some people spend lots of time watching Cat Videos, for example, instead of reading books about Cats. Not me, of course!!
The point is that our new approach to getting the word out is Jeff's little video productions.
Sometimes our staff has been cast in the videos.  They have found that they can't really turn Jeff down and sometimes reluctantly agree to do the silly things he asks us to do.  And sometimes we all have a blast with these videos....I am remembering the Dammit Doll videos which were so silly and so much fun.
Jeff sent a link to our videos to Gift Beat magazine.  I'll let you know if the magazine is interested in our films.
Stay cool!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

My First Photo on My Blog

It seems that it is about time you were introduced to Jeff, co-owner, husband and father of Sabrina.  Next time I mention him in my blog, use this photo as a reference.
Fun times!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Thanks for 23 Years of Sweet Tooth!!

Wow!! I have to say that this blog has now reached 10,125 page views!  When Sabrina said to me, "Mom, you need to write a blog about the store, I thought what I hope everyone who writes a blog thinks:  who will read my words?"  I think I've had a few good comments and ideas and I really am thankful that people are reading what I have to say.
Now on to the coming Fall/Winter Preview.
Many of you will begin to notice that Halloween and Christmas displays will soon begin to appear in the stores.  Afterall, school is back in session by mid-August.  Therefore, retail has moved back the date when holiday items and displays become the next best thing to do.  Afterall, a lot of this promotion is generated by shoppers looking for something new.  It really is a two way street and not simply retailers reaching into people's pockets for their holiday funds.
September 1 will be the 23rd anniversary of our owning Sweet Tooth.  I won't even try to describe all the changes which have taken place in those 23 years.  However I can say that our first store, with its rustic, wooden look (painted hot pink by our friend Steve) and balloons hanging flat on the wall behind the candy cases is no longer what Sweet Tooth looks like, sells or values.  We have evolved.
We will be one of those retailers who will have a little "Christmas in August" look.  We've got some darling Santa's Reindeer figures coming to us at this very moment and frankly, we can't wait another 2 or 3 months to show them to our customers.  Forgive us for tipping the scale a little early for Christmas.
Our popular display of Unemployed Philosophers will grow into a full floor tower in the fall, with all sorts of new items, including Marvel Heroes, Mr. Rogers, Planet Plates and more. 
Both Kameleon and Trollbeads are releasing a great deal of promotions and new pieces beginning very soon.  Even our Kameleon Holiday Trunk show will be held in October...why? because of the great Necklace and 2 new Jewelpops which will be coming out early for Christmas.
Right now we are looking into the new colors and styles of Scout tote bags which we think are the best totes on the market.  I get compliments every time I take my Scout bag into a store to hold my purchases.  Recently I saw 2 ladies looking at a much cheaper version of that sort of tote bag and really, I couldn't help saying to myself, "That flimsy bag will fall apart in a couple of months!"  I say if you are going to spend some money, spend it on things that will last and always look good.
Ok.  That's my spiel for the moment.  And thanks for staying with me as I sit to write down a few thoughts.
Watch for our Peanuts Party in November...65 years of Charlie Brown.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Spilling My Guts Over New Gifts & Candy

I promised a preview of some of the gift and candy items which we ordered at the Dallas Market.
First I have to say that a great majority of our sales this summer have been candy, chocolate and jewelry!!  Reflecting back on Summer 2014, we had a fairly similiar track record.
And coming up to our Indoor Sidewalk Sale this Friday and Saturday (7/17 & 7/18), we anticipate that there will be customers who see lots of space in our store next week and ask,"Are you going out of business", to which we will reply, "No, just like every other retailer, we are making space for the new items coming in for the Fall and Winter."
Help us if you can, by explaining to friends and family that this is what all retailers do every summer!!
Now, as for our plans:
We have already ordered Halloween and a great deal of Christmas Candy.  I am personally excited about new chocolate Santas, interesting "Coal" for those naughty ones which will turn their tongues blue and new Christmas gummis.  Sabrina has already put together our picture books of Halloween and Christmas candy.  You can ask to thumb through those books to see what yummies are on their way.
Gift wise:  new Chala purses and totes...including a darling raccoon and a few other new animals and styles of purses and totes which are guaranteed to impress you.
How about new, cozy Snoozie houseshoes, some in bling and some in soft, soothing material which will be just the houseshoe to snuggle on your couch and watch the latest movie on Netflicks.
Of course, Candy Canes filled with chocolate are a sure-fire sell out.  Don't hesitate to get yours.
OU and OSU fans will love the new jewelry, new scarves and other Booster gift items.  Poor T.U....hardly anyone has a license from T.U to produce fun gift items.  Talk to the Chancellor about that, you guys.
Art Scarves and Art Hearts....we just fell in love with these items from Demdaco, the manufacturer also of Embellish Your Story, Glass Fusion Plates, Screenings and Banners and a whole lot more.
Stay tuned.  I'm not very good at keeping secrets so I am certain to spill my guts over what we are expecting.

Friday, July 3, 2015

What's It Like At the Dallas Gift Market?

Perhaps you'd like to know what it is like to attend one of the major Gift Markets.  We just came back from the Dallas Market and June is one of two times of the year when the entire World Trade Center and the Trade Mart are open to retailers.
Let me tell you first that the Dallas World Trade Center has 14 floors and the Trade Mart has 4 floors.  Not all of these floors are showrooms for gift stores.  Some have showrooms for fine jewelry, for furniture, for garden and outdoor furniture and accessories.  Some have showrooms for the toy and kid markets.  The top 2 floors in the Trade Mart, which is the original building, are for huge lighting companies....a beautiful walk along the aisles and aisles of lights.
So when it comes to the Gift Market, there are probably about 7 floors of showrooms and 3 floors of temporary booths.
A day at the Gift Market is fun, grueling, physically exhausting, exciting, and puzzling.  Of course we are looking for new merchandise which will fit in our store, we are searching for "trends"...whatever might be new and upcoming.  We ask the vendors and showroom reps all sorts of questions:  What are your top 5 best sellers?  How soon will these items ship?  Are there any specials like discounts or free freight?  Can we get a bottle of water, a Coke, a snack...we are hungry, thirsty and tired.  Where is the nearest bathroom?  Where is a chair I can sit down for a few minutes?  What is the best time to go to the cafeteria so that we can avoid the crowds and literally no table to sit down and eat?
Over the 22 years we have attended the Dallas Market, lots has changed.  Frankly, there are less people attending.  The web and loss of sales reps have definitely changed the process of ordering.  We are still the folks who like to look, touch, see and even sometimes smell the merchandise, so attending the Market is an absolute necessity for us.
Today I am going through the orders we placed.  Next time I'll give you a preview of what you might expect to see at Sweet Tooth through the end of 2015.  In the meantime, there's lots of paperwork, adjusting orders and going through catalogues to be done.