Monday, May 18, 2015

Marking Those Special Occasions

Last night I went to a 5th grade graduation ceremony.  One of the granddads who attended said to me that he never imagined he would be attending a 5th grade graduation.  He went on to say that he wants to be around to attend the high school and college graduation of his granddaughter.
I've been thinking about that.  These days with some people waiting until their late 30's to begin having children, there is no doubt that some grandparents may not be around to watch those high school and college moments.
This is not an argument for having children earlier in life.  It is simply an observation that life cycle events have changed.  Now 5th grade and even pre-school graduations are more important than ever.  We need to mark every occasion by being present for those times.
I suppose as a retailer I have begun to think of these occasions in terms of gift buying and gift giving.  It is quite natural and even critical that retailers think this way...otherwise, turn off the lights and close the door.  If we are not ready with special gift items for these life cycle events, we won't be around long enough to see those events next year.
Yet we need to inspire ourselves to think about what is on the mind of the person buying that gift. I think I may have remarked in an earlier post (and if I didn't I will now) that we have seen an upsurge of people pulling out all the stops for baby's 1st birthday.  At first it seemed a little odd since baby won't even remember that day.
As you know that day is really for the parents, the grandparents, the friends who are snapping photos, watching in anticipation for baby's first taste of birthday cake.  We need those moments in our lives and we need to be celebrating every occasion we can, bringing every ounce of our spirit and joy to even the smallest occasion.
Every time I attend that 5th grade graduation, there is a point in the ceremony where I find tears in my eyes.  I know it is going to happen, so I put a piece of tissue in my pocket, ready at any instant to dab away at those tears.
I simply love watching those 10 and 11 year old kids, in their cap and gown, squirming around in their chairs, checking out their fingernails, swinging their legs under the chair.  I watch their parents, now days, with their Iphones and their Ipads, taking pictures, videotaping their child's special speech and receiving the diploma.  I think back to the 5th graduation of my child.  I cried the entire time, not out of unhappiness. However I am still not sure why I cried, even to this day I really don't know.  It was special, it was a relief, it was the first and last time that my daughter would be an 11 year old, graduating from her elementary school.
So I am taking off the retailer's hat for a time and reflecting on how important these occasions are.  Marking them with a gift is terrific.  Marking them by being there is the most important thing in the world.

Monday, April 27, 2015

There's Nothing Better Than Being A Mother!

I can't think of anything better than being a mother.  I am sort of an accidental mother, whose baby was a bit late (10 months....I am so sure of that) and my baby was a little bigger than some.  Now my baby is in her mid-30's and she is fun, sharp witted, creative, theatrical, mostly kind to others and a smart cookie!
I also think that being a mother never stops.  I give my advice, I suggest and sometimes insist that my baby do certain things.  I believe I have to be a good example for her my whole life, not just while she is growing up.  I believe that I am a mother, not her best friend and yet we can share all sorts of experiences and ideas, just like friends do.
I don't have a Facebook account; however if I did have a Facebook account, I wouldn't want to "friend" her.  I think she needs some privacy and giving her that would be a good thing for her and for me.
I miss my mom.  There are so many things I didn't ask her and so many experiences I had which I didn't share.  I try to imagine what my mom would think about certain things, but I really don't have the answers. 
I do remember the special moments my mom gave me and the opportunity I had towards the end of her life to give her as much of my time as I could.
Everyday should be Mother's Day.  We designate one day out of the year to honor our Moms and one for our Dads and our Grandparents.  And that is a good thing.  It reminds us to let our family know how important they are to us.
What about a Daughter Day or a Son Day?  I would be in favor of that.  Not to idolize our children, not to pamper and pet them, to put them in an Ivy Tower.  Rather to remind ourselves that we did something really right with our lives....we raised a child and left a legacy for ourselves and our families.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pancakes and Maple Syrup Jelly Bellys

OK.

I am taking a poll.
The latest flavor of Jelly Bellys is reported to be Pancakes and Maple Syrup.  I happen to really love Maple donuts, so this doesn't sound too bad to me.  However, Draft Beer Jelly Bellys, a recent release from Jelly Belly did not hit the top of the charts.  Although a sweet taste, I couldn't find the beer flavor in the bean.
Then out came Champagne...do you sense a pattern here?  Champagne has done a little better, but the results are not in.  The one great thing about Champagne Jelly Bellys is the wonderful color of the bean.
We are wondering why Jelly Belly didn't come out with Bacon Beans.  Having been through a couple of years of bacon flavored candies, it would seem a natural for a jelly bean.
I do want to share a little story about Bean Bozzled.  If you haven't heard of that game, it is distributed by Jelly Belly.  We carry it and the refills of the Jelly Bellys for the game.
Someone reported that they played the game at work and one player had to eat the Skunk Jelly Belly....do you get the picture?  Not only did it taste really awful, but the smell of it permeated the room.  Unfortunately that player had a conference meeting shortly after and we aren't sure if he got rid of the Skunk smell.
The Candy Biz has a lot of memorable moments....bet you hadn't thought about that!
So let me know what you think of Jelly Bellys unusual flavors.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tulsa, My Home Town

Today I've been thinking about how much Tulsa has changed over the years I have lived here.
The hospital I was born in (Burne Memorial...I think that's the spelling) has been torn down years ago and in its place at 15th and Peoria is a restaurant and a funeral home! 
My best friend, Betty and I used to take the bus downtown on Saturdays to "shop".  We really had no money to spend but it was so much fun to wander around in Vandervers and Dorothy's and eat lunch at Nelson's.  It was safe, we felt like real adults and even if it was hot and stuffy, we didn't care.
I remember buying my Mom a blue glass ash tray.  My Mom didn't even smoke but blue was a favorite color of hers and I thought it would be so pretty sitting on her dresser. 
Then Southland Shopping Center was built at 41st and Yale and we could just walk up the hill from our house and go shopping.  Brown Dunkin was my favorite store.  I could look around in that store forever and if I really, really needed a party dress or a girdle (oh, yeah!), I could ask the sales lady to call my Mom and see if she would agree to let me charge it to her account.
My sister loved TG&Y and spent a lot of time in that store.  And sometimes we would eat lunch in Walgreen's...oh yes, Walgreen's and we thought we were really something if we ate there.
Here we are again, talking about all the shopping, the hotels, the PAC, the Brady and Cain's....Pearl District, the Blue Dome....on and on, the blossoming of downtown Tulsa.
Tulsa, you've come back around.  You've rediscovered downtown and I for one am really glad that we are no longer digging up Main Street, one year it goes south, next year it goes north.....

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What Can I Do For You?

                                                      What can we do for you?
The concerned retailer will ask him or herself that question each time a customer walks in the door.  It should be ALL ABOUT YOU!
I am wondering if you feel that way when you walk into most stores?  Do the staff greet you? do they seem interested in helping you?  do they offer samples of their goods?  do they greet you and then turn away, never to return to see how you are doing?
You know, I am a customer too.  I shop for groceries, clothes, shoes, hardware, pharmacy items.....etc.  Most of the time I feel like an invisible person, that is, if I don't specifically ask for help.
My favorite places to shop are like the t.v. program CHEERS....a place where, if they don't know my name, they pretend they know me and want me in their store.
And one of the most annoying experiences is when you pull out the coupon you've been saving to use and find that the deadline has passed.  Urgghh (is that a word?)...do you go ahead and buy that item because, well, you are already there?  or do you wait until another coupon comes along?
I have noticed that more people seem interested in shopping locally.  The t.v. news I watch recently carried a story about the Farmer's Market on Cherry Street.  The journalist interviewed a woman who had driven from Ponca City to shop at the Farmer's Market that morning....I just love that sort of person.
Now I see articles questioning whether Organic is really Organic and Natural is really Natural and Grown Locally is an accurate description.
Really, it isn't easy being a consumer.  There are just so many questions you have to ask yourself when you go out to shop....and the one I really want to hear is WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?
How about you?

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!!