Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easter Stats Are More Than Numbers

Easter is an interesting holiday for stores like ours.
If Easter is in March, it is usually a slow holiday and does not attract as much retail attention as Easter in April.  The further into April, the more time people have to plan and think about how they are going to commemorate the holiday.
Just today I received some statistics from the National Retail Federation concerning projections for Easter.
80% of Americans are expected to spend $140.62 each on Easter purchases, as compared to 2014 Easter purchases of $137.46 each.
Frankly I can't understand that number since a new pair of shoes for Easter might very well be at least 1/2 of the $140.62!!  or take the whole amount!!
The total projection for Easter purchases is projected to be $16.4 billion.  Holy cow! that sounds like a really big number, until you consider that it takes into account sprucing up wardrobes, buying those ever important Easter shoes, food, candy, decorations, etc.
It is projected that people will spend more this year on food.  85.7% will purchase more food for a total of $5.3 billion.  So we are talking Easter dinner and perhaps other Easter meals.
$2.2 billion will be spent on jelly beans, chocolate Peeps and other festive candy.  Sweet Tooth has all of that!
$2.4 billion will be spent on gifts and $1.1 billion on flowers.  $998 million will go to decorations and $695 million to greeting cards.
So there you have the story, as it affects retailers.  58.6% of shoppers will make purchases in discount stores.  Technology will impact purchases as well as 13.5% of shoppers will make purchases on their Smart Phones.
I've always noticed that some parents don't want to bring their kids into our store right before Easter.  It seems that those kids who still believe in the Easter bunny might begin to wonder if the candy they get in their Easter baskets looks a whole lot like what they saw at Sweet Tooth.
Like Gilda Radner used to say:  "It's always something!"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

I Have Several Things On My Mind...

I have several things on my mind today.
One is the weather which is definitely interfering with sales. 
One is the dock workers strike on the West Coast which has held up deliveries of all sorts of vendors' lines.  Apparently some of the issues are resolved and the dock workers are beginning to allow crates of all sorts of shipments to go through the docks.  I did hear on NPR that some manufacturers are re-considering having their merchandise, even food items, come through the West Coast docks.  That will certainly hurt the economy for all those people.
Another is Easter which is coming up on April 5.  I just have to point out my favorite Easter candy, an item which we have had every single year for 22 years at Easter time.  That item is Duck In A Hat.  You really have to come and get that Duck.  The art work on the foil has not changed in 22 years.  He is still a golden yellow duck, dressed and wearing a hat ... I'd say like a beret or a yarmulke.  My hope for Duck In A Hat is that he continues to sell out every year.  And by the way, the chocolate is very good.
Here's some other good news.  I am a part of an advisory group for a trade publication called GIFTBEAT.  Every month GiftBeat sends me a questionnaire re: what's selling, what's new, what's a big deal at your store, what are the top 3 vendors for the month, etc.
Apparently Joyce at GiftBeat is following our Facebook page because she wrote to ask us about the Facebook post which said "Nobody knows the Truffles I've seen" with a photo of our Sweet Shop Truffles.
That post had over 9,000 hits and Joyce was curious as to what we did to get that much attention.
Well, all Jeff did was post the picture and the saying and then watch with surprise the number of hits his post was getting.
This month's GiftBeat magazine tells our story about that post (minus our name....we are an Oklahoma retailer) and we have had a very nice chuckle and a bit of excitement over that story.
Our latest and greatest idea for a store party is coming up next week.  March 13 is the release of the live action Cinderella movie, along with a Frozen short.  So next week we are having a Cinderella/Frozen promotion.  Doris has designed a favor bag for kids ages 3-12 and on Saturday March 14 we are having a party in our store for those kids.  Among other things, they can sign up for tickets to see the movie.
Jesse and Lisa will be in period costume, posing for pictures with the kids.
So if you are wondering what we do all week at Sweet Tooth, you've had a sneak peek at our Retailer's Life.
Live long and prosper!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What Is Hot & What Is Not

Midway to Valentine's Day at Sweet Tooth is looking a lot like last year, the year before,etc. etc.
Not many men yet.  Mostly women who are shopping for children, grandchildren, friends and sweethearts.  Women who plan ahead, pretty much know what they want and don't like to wait until the last minute to shop.
Popular items include Dark Chocolate Caramel Hearts, Jelly Belly Valentine Mix, Gummi Lips and of course, truffles and lots of chocolate.
There are some jewelry shoppers, mostly buying for themselves.  Once again, many men wait until the last minute to shop for Valentine's Day.
Retailers speculate on whether the actual day of the week for Valentine's Day determines whether shopping will be vigorous or not so vigorous.  I think most of us prefer that Valentine's Day happen on a Thursday or Friday when deliveries at work are popular.  People like to show off what they are getting for Valentine's Day.  Nothing better than to have a big bouquet of roses or a large box of chocolates showing up at work, from your sweetheart.  Some, I would think, resort to sending gifts to themselves just for the show.  I don't think we have ever experienced a lot of that sort of thing.
What has been waning over the years is Heart Boxes...they are more expensive to make.... and the word LOVE on anything is to be avoided for some strange reason.
This year we brought back the compartment Valentine Heart plastic box which is going over pretty well.  It allows a mixture of candies in a heart shaped box with acrylic lid...not too expensive but still has that Valentine feel to it. And shows off the candy inside!!
We are waiting to see if the Heart Shaped Basket Made in Oklahoma will develop a following.  Afterall, that basket could work for lots of other occasions.
I will report back after V-day on what was hot and what was not.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Isn't January a Slow Month?

January is a slow month for retail stores like Sweet Tooth.  Big box stores are having sales on appliances, big screen t.v.s for watching the Super Bowl, linens and a continuation of their after Christmas sales. 
Small, local stores like Sweet Tooth take the time to regenerate, re-order, find the latest trends, wait for merchandise to arrive and if all else fails, dust and rearrange the store.
This year Jeff and I were unable to attend the January Gift Market.  Fortunately 3 of our staff were able to spend a day in Dallas and brought back all sorts of impressions, ideas and a huge stack of catalogues which I am still attempting to go through.
January is goal-setting time as well.  What will 2015 look like for our store?  What do we need to do to get through to our goals?
We have begun to pick dates for our Trunk Shows and take a look at other kinds of events for the store.  One of our goals is to establish our store as an destination for Oklahoma products and made in Oklahoma items.
We are going to work with a jewelry artist to bring in a one of a kind sterling silver charm. We are going to continue our relationship with the artist who annually designs and has produced an ornament which illustrates a Tulsa icon. 
We want to take advantage of new fun gift items which, I must say, have become a trademark of Sweet Tooth.  We often hear our customers say that they find items in our store which are different from other gift shops.  We like hearing that comment!  Take a look at the Selfie Pole and the Dammit Dolls, just to illustrate my point.
Of course January does bring us to February and Valentine's Day.  This is what we refer to as "a last minute holiday" which means that February 13 and 14 can be our busiest days of the year.  We are gearing up.  Daily crunches to get our backs in shape, new tennis shoes to support the time we will spend on our feet, designing our special heart shaped baskets with yummy treats.....making sure that our Trollbeads and Kameleon jewelry lines are stocked up and ready for gift giving.
Doris is probably creating a calendar of what jewelry she will be wearing everyday at the store.  Check out Doris the next time you are in.....she is the most conscientious of all of us about what matches with what.
To help carry the load, we have a new staff member, Virginia.  She is discovering that retail can be a very detailed kind of  a job. Be sure to welcome Virginia aboard....she's going to love getting to know all of you!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Grumpy Cat and Selfie Poll

Have you seen Grumpy Cat?  I knew nothing about The Grumpy until my daughter Sabrina said, "Oh Mom???" and then she showed me Grumpy Cat.  I understand that the Cat makes a good bit of money with licenses on that  scowl.
I just want to point you in the direction of Grumpy Cat mint tins which have been very popular at Sweet Tooth.  Over the holiday period we sold out of both everyday and Christmas Grumpy Cat.  Sitting by the candy register, people just couldn't pass up that little punim (Yiddish for FACE).
And now there are Valentine Grumpy mints and Grumpy has not one good thing to say about Love and Valentine's Day.  "I was in love once.  It was awful."    Meh!

We also need to point out that the Selfie Poll continues to attract attention.  We've got some goodies up our collective sleeves re: The Poll.

Wouldn't it be fun to use the Selfie Poll to take a picture of Grumpy Cat.....if  The Cat could stand for it??!! Hey, no opposable thumb to push the button on Grumpy's phone.  Looks like The Cat is going to have to make at least one friend.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Crunch Time at Sweet Tooth

Sometimes things get rather intense around Sweet Tooth and now is one of those times.
January and June are the really big and important Gift Market shows in Atlanta, Dallas and now Las Vegas.  This is the time of the year when lots of new merchandise and even candy is introduced.  Showrooms and temporaries are actually showing Christmas 2015 merchandise and hoping that the showrooms will gain a avalanche of orders to fulfill.
This year, for the first time in 22 years, we are not able to attend the Gift Market.  3 members of our staff will be going there for a day and will bring back their impressions of merchandise and candy we should bring into our store.  They will also be looking for new trends, new colors, and new displays which we can incorporate at Sweet Tooth.  We are very excited for them to be representing Sweet Tooth at the Dallas Market.
In the meantime we are busy with our After Christmas Sale, getting ready for Valentine's Day (yes, the candy is already here!), preparing our specials and making space for new merchandise as it arrives.
In addition we are writing thank you notes, holding our Staff Meeting (yummy food this time from Zoe's) and planning ahead for the rest of the year.
Our customers are often surprised to hear that we have ordered our Valentine and Easter candy last summer!  Oh, yes, the manufacturers want to know how much to produce, the distributors want to know how much to sell and we want to be able to think ahead concerning our sales as well.
The Postal Carrier is burdened down with new catalogues which are arriving daily.  I am trying my very best to get our orders in ahead of the Atlanta, Dallas and Las Vegas orders.  Who wants to be the last store to show the new merchandise?
Jeff is crunching numbers, determining which merchandise and candy did its best during the holiday season.  Looking at the numbers will be paramount in our decision as to what lines to continue buying, where we might be missing out on popular gifts and candy and how we might improve our bottom line.
How about those Selfie Polls?  Last June we were presented with them at the Market and silly us, we passed on purchasing them.  Well, we have learned that lesson and Selfie Polls are on their way to our store.  If every retailer had his or her pulse on what will be the hot new item, we wouldn't have to worry about online merchants and big box stores.
Of course we are continuing to say Shop Local.  Those who shop locally are the life blood of small stores like ours.  Happy New Year.  Hoping to see you soon at Sweet Tooth.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Reflections on the Holiday Season

Here I am sitting at the computer in the back room of the store, the day after Christmas, thinking about the past month and how everything went.
This is the 22nd Christmas/Holiday season we have had at Sweet Tooth and I am always amazed at how fast the days go by during December.  It is difficult to find time to reflect on the season.  We are always barreling ahead, planning for customers, watching the inventory, waiting on customers (one day we had about 150 transactions and that is quite a bit for a store our size). 
We attempt to satisfy each customer's request.  We create individualized gifts for our customers and we hope that we have ordered the right amount of gifts and candy and that no one walks away dissatisfied.
Of course you know already that we cannot live up to 100% of our promises no matter how hard we try....and we try really, really hard.  Our staff is courteous and helpful.  They are full of information and suggestions.  And when they have to say, "So Sorry, we are out of that" or "So Sorry, we do not have that item this year", our staff sincerely means what they say.
Let's pause to say that without a great group of staff members, Sweet Tooth would not exist.  No matter how new or how "senior" our staff is, we are always grateful and pleased with their work.
Now back to reflections.
The past few years have not been the best for retail, especially for small, local stores like ours.  It is impossible to know all the reasons for that; however the bottom line tells us that things could have been better.
This year felt better.  The numbers aren't in yet, but we seem to have had more customers, ready to purchase candy and gifts.  Our Trunk Shows were better attended and we were pleased with the outcome.  The Shop Local Saturday brought us more customers aware that the way to have a thriving local business is to support those stores with purchases....we hope...year around.  Local economy thrives when local businesses do well.
Today we met at the store to ready the store for our After Christmas Sale.  Our staff was encouraged about the number of items we had left.  In other words, we had less than expected.  We also put "odds and ends" of other merchandise on sale.
We are ready for the customer who wants to know if we are going out of business because our merchandise is 50% off.  Sometimes I wonder if that same customer walks into Dillard's on the After Christmas Sale and asks the clerk the same question.  We do like the big guys.....we participate in a sale.
We are looking ahead to the next season....Valentine's and Easter.  We hope it reflects the same sense of stability and hope that this past season has shown.  And we appreciate all of YOU who have made it so.