Thursday, October 1, 2015

What You Should Know About Credit Card Chip Technology

October is a special month for credit card technology.  Retailers are required to have new credit card processing machines in place which will accept the new chip technology, as well as the magnetic strip on your card.  Gas stations have until 2017 to install that technology.
You will be relieved to know that Sweet Tooth has had its new credit card machines for about 2 weeks.  Frankly, there is very little change on our side about how to use credit cards with the chip on them.  Let me tell you a few things you need to know about this new technology.

A chip card is a debit or credit card with a built-in microchip which you can easily see on the front of your card.  The chip provides greater security and convenience for you when you use your credit card.  The microchip is encrypted and that makes it extremely difficult for someone to copy or counterfeit your credit card.
European countries and Canada have had this technology for a while.  If you made a recent trip to one of those places you may have run into some difficulty if your credit card did not have the microchip.  Even though chip cards may have a magnetic strip on the back, it is much better and more secure for you to use the chip.
Because we are a retailer, we do not require a PIN number to process purchases.  However if you are attempting to withdraw money from an ATM you may find that you cannot do so without a PIN number.

Jeff is due a huge pat on the back for working early to make certain that Sweet Tooth had the correct technology for accepting chip credit cards.  I think I need a pat on the back for remembering how to process that card.  We have already had several customers make purchases with their new chip credit card.  Those customers have the security of knowing that they will not be a victim of fraud as long as they use their "chip".

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Our 24th Halloween Season....Boo!

Thursday was a banner day.  For the 24th time in the history of Sweet Tooth we received our Halloween candy from Redstone.  We had just finished celebrating the end of our 23rd year in business and now we are officially into the Fall season just like we were 23 years ago in The Farm Shopping Center.
On Monday of next week we are sitting down to order our Valentine and Easter Candy.  Since our Christmas candy has been ordered months ago, we are actually going to have 12 months of seasonal candy on order by Tuesday morning.
Does that seem strange to you?  Many professions have to stay way ahead of their current season in order to be ready for our customers when the next important occasion arises.
So, what's special about Halloween?  We (and you!) have gone through many changes with Halloween.  Years ago, as a kid, we had no fear of experiencing the Trick or Treat night, running around our neighborhood, gathering up candy, caramel apples, popcorn balls, cookies....etc.....all these things our neighbors had prepared for us.  We never felt in fact, we probably scared ourselves and our friends with the home made costumes we wore!
While in The Farm Shopping Center, we saw Halloween completely change.  Afraid of kids getting glass in their candy, and other horrible things, Halloween became a really scary time for many people.  Add to that the aversion to witch costumes and references to witches and vampires, people turned to having their own parties, or churches sponsoring a fun night for families.  Trick or Treating became a thing of the past.  The Farm sponsored a safe Trick or Treat night and we always participated.
What we have seen more recently is a come-back of celebrating Halloween.  Does it have something to do with the success of Zombie t.v. programs, and other such "horror type" movies and t.v. programs?  I think there is something to be said for that.  Witches are more popular, perhaps because of the Harry Potter books and movies.
In any case, putting the fun back in Halloween is a good thing to see.  I don't imagine that there will ever be the carefree manner in which, as a kid, I celebrated Halloween.  Those Wowie Whistles that I longed for years ago (and wrote about) still have not returned.  However, gourmet Halloween candy can definitely make up the difference.
Remember, seasonal gifts and candy.....cannot be re-ordered.  Shop early and have fun!

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.