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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Put That Smile On Your Face

I was just thinking today how awesome all of us are when we share our ideas with each other, when we become the cheering squad for our friends and family, when we stop thinking of how we can beat the other guy and instead think about how we can lift him or her up.
What does this have to do with candy and gifts?
Over the years I have sometimes thought of myself as the iconic bartender, who listens to all her customers, their troubles, their triumphs, their questions about life.  And all I had to do was solutions, just being there when someone wanted to talk.
Believe it....this does happen in a retail store.  And it is not what some refer to as Retail Therapy...which is really just running away for the day and having a great time without a care in the world.
In our world, people are often just trying to find the right gift which will cheer up a friend in the hospital or help celebrate the birth of a child or the marriage of a friend.  Those gifts represent the special feeling we have for each other and the time involved in picking out just the perfect gift to say "We care".
Retail is so much more than ringing up a customer at the register.  You can get that any day anywhere.  We just want our store to be the Happy Place for our customers, a place where people know that we care about them and want their day to be the best.
So, is this a little sappy?  Yes, it is and yet why not rise above the everyday problems which life throws at us?
I always told my daughter....the little have a smile in your pocket....put it on your face.
So I am smiling at all of you....
And now back to ordering Trollbeads and Minion tic tacs and paying the bills.  Right?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Blooming Chocolate: What's That All About?

Today I want to talk to you about chocolate blooming.  Because of the heat and humidity in the summer, this subject is more relevant now than at other times of the year.  I am hoping that knowing what blooming in chocolate is will help you to decide what to buy and when to buy it.
First of all, that sort of grayish look you find occasionally on chocolate is NOT mold.  What is happening is one of several possibilities.
Sugar Bloom is caused by surface moisture.  Moisture causes the sugar to dissolve and when the moisture evaporates, what is left is sugar crystals.  If this situation repeats, the chocolate can become sticky and look discolored. 
Fat Bloom is similiar to sugar bloom, however in this instance it is the fat or the cocoa butter which separates from the chocolate and deposits itself on the outside of the candy....thus that grayish color.
Changes in temperature, as well as moisture, are both enemies of chocolate and other candy.  At Sweet Tooth we attempt to keep both the temperature of our store (70 degrees year around on the candy side) and the moisture at as much of a minimum as possible.  Quick changes in temperature, from cool to warm to cool can be a source of blooming in chocolate.
Chocolate also absorbs flavors from food or from other items like scented candles and perfumes which are stored nearby.  This is the reason why Sweet Tooth does not sell scented candles or perfumes and why we do not make gift baskets which have other flavors or scents near the chocolate.
Bloomed chocolate can be eaten.  The texture might be a bit grainy, however the chocolate should taste ok.
At our store we also encourage our customers, particularly in summer months, to store their candy in a cool, dark place in their home.  If they buy chocolate while they are out shopping or traveling, it would be best to keep that chocolate in a cooler until arriving at home.
The chocolate we sell does not require refrigeration and should, under the correct conditions, last for a number of months.  We carefully watch manufacturing dates of our chocolate and attempt to adhere to a fairly strict schedule of when the chocolate is manufactured.
Now you know why we say that chocolate can be a fragile and delicate you want to handle and store with care.  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Holiday Candy Ordering: It's a Marathon.

Here's what Jeff and I did last Friday.  For the 23rd time we ordered Halloween and Christmas/Chanukah candy from the first sales rep we ever knew:  Gary O.
The first time I met with Gary to order holiday candy it was in the back room of our first The Farm Shopping Center.  I knew absolutely nothing about candy,  Of course I had eaten candy but never stopped to think about what candies were popular and what candies would do well for the various holidays in the fall.  I liked Mars bars (frozen, of course) and Bit O Honey .  A real gourmet, huh?
Gary was very patient that it took 8 hours for us to complete that order.  At this point I don't even remember anything in particular about that day.  I do remember that the back of my desk chair was always up against the bathroom door.  And I learned that some people make pigs out of marzipan.  So you can imagine how crowded Gary and I were when we were paging through his sales book.
This year we were down to about 5 hours for the ordering process.  Of course we had to stop for a  BarBQue lunch...Gary's favorite meal.  And occasionally there was a little gossiping, a little reminiscing, a few jokes, looking out the window at the torrential rain and of course, bathroom breaks.
I vowed that 2015 would not be a PEEPS year.  PEEPS are supposed to be Easter candy, right?.  I wanted the NEW STUFF.  After 22 years, you can imagine that some repeat candy simply has to go go go.
One observation:  folks are not buying chocolate Santas like they did in the "old days".  Don't know why but I do know when you have a lot of left over Santas one year, you steer clear of that problem the next year.
"Coal" candy for the naughty ones is still popular.  Peppermint triumphs over cherry and raspberry every holiday season.  And since last year the concept of the Mensch (ok...look it up) has gained popularity for Chanukah candy.
23 years!!!  Wow...Jeff gets a kick out of the conversations Gary and I have every time we get together for this marathon candy ordering.  Like an old married people used to say...we have know each other that long. He can't retire until I do!!
Stay tuned for more about holiday candy.  Let's get past July 4th first!