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306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


A view of the industry through the eyes of a chain buyer.

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Advice To Retailers

How to keep a genuine enthusiast Ė and big spender Ė happy.

by Name Withheld (September 4, 2006)

1. Constantly turn over product on the shelves. Offer free workshops, make-it/take-its. Show how to use ink to make that old piece of paper look completely different. This includes turning over samples and designs.

2. Examples. When a customer walks in and sees something on the wall Ė if they LOVE it, they will buy everything it takes to make it. Make sure you have all the product in stock to make anything on display

3. On-the-spot demos. A customer walks into the store and says, "Oh, Iíd love to learn how to do that." If itís quick and easy, pull out the stuff and show them. Great example is "Ink It" in Gilbert AZ. I walked in, she showed me how, I spent $182 on the spot Ė and definitely had not planned to do that! I just said, "Sell me everything I need to make that" after she did the demo.

4. Classes. Can you ever have enough? Have a cadre of instructors and let them keep 100% of the class proceeds. Give them 10% of the sales from anyone in the class (use coupons to track). Your profit will grow with repeat customers who will return to the store over and over.

5. Never argue with the customer or tell them to buy something else. I was just in a store looking for something and the clerk suggested numerous items as a replacement. She had no idea that I am a seasoned artist and was looking for a single, specific item. She irritated the heck out of me. I probably wonít go back!

6. Stock items that cannot be found at Michaels, Jo-Ann's, Hobby Lobby, etc. I shop a lot online because no one stocks what I really want.

7. How do you know what customers want? How about asking them when they walk through the door? See # 5 above. If that clerk had simply said, "we donít have it, but we will be happy to order it for you. Can we call you when it comes in?" I would have been a loyal customer for life!!! Especially if she called me with the product within a week or two!

8. Display. When I walk into your store I want to go WOW! I want to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that you have in stock. It needs to be different, unique, fun, something I can use. Thereís a tiny little nook of a store one hour away, The Artistís Nook. I drive up there twice a month just to see what she has in new. I have yet to be disappointed, and Iíve never walked out empty handed.

9. Do not allow cliques in your store. Take the time to make sure all of your croppers are feeling integrated with the other croppers. A great way to do that is to have a drawing every hour. Give away some of the sample merchandise you receive. Hand out a few sheets of cardstock Ė heck, what does that cost you? In the long run you will gain tons.

10. Donít forget overseas who travel to the U.S. and out-of-town customers. How do they find you? Iím in several yahoo groups and often have women ask me where to shop in my area. If I donít like you, I wonít refer them to you!

11. Sending out weekly emails is a great way to build business and build customer loyalty.

12. Iím not looking for a coupon or a discount. Iím looking for the product I want. And if you donít have it, I will order online and pay the shipping. I use my coupons to buy adhesive, glue, the boring stuff that I never have enough of!

(Note: To read advice for vendors and designers, click on "Vinny Da Vendor" and Designing Perspectives. To read previous "Benny" columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column. Do you agree or disagree with the writer? Email your reactions to CLN at mike@clnonline.com.)



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