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.

Friday, November 14, 2014

2000 Pounds of Candy, oh yeah!

Here's an incredible day for you!!
Imagine receiving about 2000 pounds of candy in one day....boxes all over the store, no place to hide them and no place to store all the extra candy and gifts in the back room.
That is the scenerio for a small-ish retail store when almost all the candy ordered for the holidays, as well as the ingredients for making candy all come in on the same day.
This is a yeoman's job and I have to say that our staff took care of all of this in 2 days time, while at the same time, answering the phone, waiting on customers, making sure the candy section was clean and tidy and eating their lunches as quickly as they could
New staff are always amazed at the amount of boxes which come in at Christmas time.  When the delivery truck opened his back door and we saw an 8 foot tower of candy boxes on his truck, eyes were opened in amazement, while we all took a deep breath.  That pallet of boxes was only one of three we received that day.
When you walk down the promenade in an indoor mall, you get so accustomed to seeing little corridors breaking off the main one, you simply don't think about what is going on down that-a-way.  I can tell you that the UPS and the FedEx trucks, not to mention other delivery services are pulling up to those outside doors, ready to unload tons of merchandise.
There are no little magical fairies who come out at night to unload, price, restock and back stock all that stuff.  A person working in retail learns quickly how to juggle multiple tasks at the same time.
At Sweet Tooth, all of our staff are no longer rookies.  It only takes one holiday season to eliminate the mystery of how things get done in a retail store.
We are stocked.  We are ready.  We have smaller and smaller aisles in the store and the shelves are almost up to the ceiling with all that candy.  On the "gift side" Jeff has hauled box upon box of decorations, accessories, glass plates and ornaments, etc. from our garage to the store and with extreme and dedicated effort, it is all ready for the holiday shopper.
Will we see you soon?  We hope so. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How To Make a 30 Second Commercial

Want to know how 30 second commercials are made here at Sweet Tooth?  Want to know how Jeff has become the celebrity of 30 second commercials?  Here goes.
In September we finally put a date on the calendar for videotaping our new ad for t.v.  Our producer and videographer, Diane and Davis Ward presented us with 2 scripts...take offs on the really popular t.v. show
MAD MEN.  They asked us to pick one of the scripts, we did and we were off and running.
Thanks to our hairdresser Erica, we had make up and hair mapped out.  Thanks to Christa at the T.U. Costume Department, we had 1960's style dresses for our actresses, Lyle and Kayley.  And thanks to Lyle and Kayley, who agreed to be poked and prodded, hair colored, wearing false eyelashes which can be very irritating, standing occasionally in high heels and re-taking each of the scenes several times, we had the pieces of the ad in the cannister.
Then along comes Sabrina, who has been the voice of all our ads except one, who went to the studio and recorded the voice over for the ad.
Let's not leave out Jeff, who had his hair and eyebrows colored, who had to eat several candy cigarettes, who stood in front of the green wall and pretended to be falling down and finally had to appear as Don Draper on a show that, frankly, he has never watched.
The entire filming process, except for a couple of pieces in Davis' studio, was videotaped in our store,  That involved about 5 hours of getting ready and then doing the filming.  Davis had to set up the exact lighting, there was lots of moving around of displays in the store and of course the obligatory standing around, kibbitzing, laughing, with hands on hips and several opportunities to give our opinion to Davis, who is very good at politely ignoring our intrusions.
Davis' final effort was to find just the right music to go along with the MAD MEN idea.  That was a bit of a longer process.
The day came when Jeff and I went over to Davis' studio to see the finished product.  Each time we do this we bring M & Ms to eat...it's tradition.  Of course we had to see the 30 second ad over and over to catch all the nuances and we gave it a big thumbs up.
Now it is your turn.  The ad begins running on various cable shows November 1.  Don't fast forward through the ad....it is a lot of fun.