December: The Shopping Season, Or Is It?

Well we are in the heart of the holiday shoppingholiday season, one of the busiest times for small retail shops, well at least normally it is. It’s been an exceptionally slow start to December, which is unlike past years. We’ve been racking our brains to figure out what is different this year.  Speaking with other business owners in town they too are having the same experience.  So it makes you really wonder what has changed this year.  Well several days of heavy rains and now snow could cause people not to come out in shop, but it’s more.

So as we looked back on previous years numbers we noticed one thing that changed this year.  Small Business Saturday.  This being the third year we participated in “Shop Small” we realized this was also the best year we’ve done in sales with this event.  Nearly triple previous years.  So, did people get all their shopping done on Small Business Saturday?  That’s what we are starting to think. Which is a great thing, but that means we need to start rethinking how to keep the sales going through December.

So what can you as a small business do different for the month of December to draw in continued business for the holidays? Here are a few ideas that may help you.

1. Special Sales: whether a special deal throughout the store, specials on certain items, shopping night etc.

2. Events: is there a special holiday event your town does?  Be sure to participate and promote your business

3. Get creative: Think outside the box.  Doing something that will make your business stand out and attract shoppers.

4. Advertising: Don’t forget the advertising during December.  It’s probably one of the most important times to reach new shoppers.

5. Reward your customers:  This is the time of year to thank your customers for their continued business through the year.  Offer your loyal customers something special, they’ll appreciate it and that helps to continue building that relationship with your customers.

Hopefully these ideas will help you through the season.  Always remember there are plenty of last minute shoppers too….don’t worry too much as it always seems to pay off in the end.

Next blog will discuss preparing for next year, finding new ways to improve your small business.

Season Greetings

Renee Gannon

Small Business Matters

 

 

 

 

Me Time: Don’t Forget to Nourish Your Soul

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As we all know owning a small business requires long hours and can be very trying and hectic especially during the holiday season. That’s why it’s important that we find something to do that will help you relax, nourish your soul and give you some “me time”.  We all need it, but get so busy with the day to day on our businesses that we forget to take some “me time”.

I did just that recently, joining our local garden club.  Gardening is something I’ve always enjoyed and has been a way for me to relax, recharge my soul and allows me some “me time”.  It also allows me to give back to my community by helping beautify our town through gardening.

Stepping away for a little while from all the requirements of your small business is healthy, and honestly very important.  If you get too wrapped up in it you’ll burn out.  Like with any “job” you need to take a break.  Small business owners don’t have the luxury of paid time off or paid vacations.  So what happens, we don’t.  That is something we have to rethink when we own our  own small business.  We have to make the time for ourselves, because we deserve it.

So check with your local town organizations or groups and see if there is one you can join.  It gives you time away from your business, allows you to have fun doing something you enjoy and depending on the organization gives back to your community.

Regardless of what you do, do something for yourself. Whether it’s Yoga, Gardening Club, Sewing Club or Hiking Club find something that nourishes your soul.  Take the “me time”, you’ll find yourself more relaxed, thinking clearer and nourishing your soul.  Take care of yourself, you and your business need it.

Small Business Matters

Renee Gannon

 

First Impressions Set The Tone Of Your Business

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Small Biz Matters

Sorry it’s been two weeks since my last post.  Business and life seems to go a little crazy the closer you get to the holidays.  Which made me think about how much a single first impression with your customers goes a long way.  It sets a tone for whether you have repeat business.  How welcoming are you and your business to your customers?

After talking with a customer of ours yesterday it really got me thinking on how important first impressions are to our customers.  We’ve always been the type of business to make sure we offer a welcoming atmosphere.  The minute a customer walks in the door, we say hi and ask them how they are.  Small talk while they are shopping, whether the weather or what’s going on in town really breaks the ice and makes your customers comfortable.

Also the way your business is setup can provide a welcoming and comforting atmosphere.  Our customers tell us all the time, how nice is smells in the store and how relaxing an atmosphere we have. These things really matter to us and our customers.

The customer I was speaking with yesterday made the point even more clear when she was discussing other places they have shopped and never felt comfortable in those stores.  Never received a welcoming hello when they walked in, and barely acknowledged the whole time they were shopping. They left thinking I don’t want to go back.  That is the last thing you want a customer to think after leaving your business.

Now they go and speak to others about their bad experience and before you know it that bad word spreads quickly.  Word of mouth can be your best form of advertising, but also your worst.

It may not seem like much, but a simple greeting and smile to every customer that walks in your door goes a long way.  Take the time to get to know your customers and provide a welcoming atmosphere as this helps to build a positive image of your business.  Your happy customers will be your best form of advertising.

Hoping everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving.

Don’t forget about Small Business Saturday.  Shop Small and support your local businesses.

Renee Gannon

Small Biz Matters

Small Business Saturday is our Black Friday!

shop smallAs many of you have seen and heard through media and Facebook, Small Business Saturday is coming up.  This is a huge day for independently owned businesses.  Small Business Saturday was started by Amex several years ago to support the small “Mom and Pop” shops around the country.  It’s become a huge success over the years and has been our Black Friday.

A chance for small businesses to promote themselves and pull away from all the Big Box retail shops.  While thousands of people head out at crazy hours on Black Friday to get their deals, Small Business Saturday is about supporting your local retailers.  Giving back to your community.

This is really important for a small business as you can image.  Take the attention off the Big Box and focusing on “Shop Small” as Amex as coined it.  Our chance as a small business to shine.  So if you are a small business and you haven’t heard of this yet, you must go sign up.

Now obviously the point of this is to have Amex customers shopping on this day.  Amex rewards their customers who shop on Small Business Saturday with a credit on their statement.  But theirs more.  For businesses signed up they receive a ton of free merchandise to handout to their customers on that day.  How exciting, free stuff.

Do you need to accept Amex?

Well it’s helpful of course if you do.  Many small businesses tend not to accept Amex because of the higher percentage rates, but in my opinion if you are going to gain more sales, then maybe it’s worth taking Amex.  I know since we started accepting Amex three years ago, we’ve seen an increase in sales.

How do I sign up?

Here is the link to their site where you can get all your info about Small Business Saturday.  Be sure to sign up your business and get on the map.  People use this map to gear where they go shopping on Small Business Saturday.

What do I do as a retailer?

Start promoting Small Business Saturday through social media, your website, advertising etc.  However you can get the word out there.  On their website you’ll see there is a ton of free materials you can download to use for promoting Small Business Saturday.  Signs, banners, social media posts and more.

So what are you waiting for, go sign up and promote this opportunity for your business.  Small Business Saturday “Shop Small”

Follow us on Facebook and check out what we’ll be doing for Small Business Saturday.

Holidays Are Upon Us! Are You Ready?

holiday shoppingWell, Halloween has come and gone.  It’s now November and for us it’s the start of the holiday season.  We’ve already seen many people shopping early this year for the holidays.  So it’s a sign we need to make sure we are ready for the rush.  From stocking up on items in the store, to decorations and specials we will be offering.  Yeah it may seem early, but it’s really not.  I started preparing for the decorating part for the holidays this past summer.  Hitting yard sales to find things that can be added to our Christmas displays in the windows.  We had a huge response to our Halloween decorations this year, but that was nothing to what will be coming for Christmas. I’ll be working on setting up our windows the weekend of Thanksgiving.  It’s going to take all weekend to setup this display up.

What other things do you need to consider for the holidays when preparing?

Stock: Are you stocked up fully for the holiday rush?  If not make sure to get your orders in ASAP, so you will have a full store for the next two months.  People are already shopping and you don’t want to miss out on that opportunity if you are not stocked up.

Supplies: Boxes, bags, gift wrap…whatever it is you use in your store make sure you have enough of it.  I for one will be ordering more bags, tissue paper and jewelry boxes for our store this week.

Specials:  Start figuring out now what specials you plan to run for the holiday season as you may need some prep time to get these ready.

Advertising:  Get your ads ready and running in November for any holiday specials you might have.  The sooner people see them the better.

These are just a few of the things you need to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. How well you’re prepared makes a big difference in how your holiday season will turn out. Always remember to have fun with whatever you do.  Think outside the box and be creative.  You’ll attract more customers that way.

Happy Holiday Shopping Season

Renee Gannon owner of Artisans Corner

Small Business Matters

 

 

Playing With Various Mediums

We’ve always been interested and focused our work in the glass medium for as long as I can remember.  We love all art of course, which is why we have a varied selection of work in our store.  Sometimes, after so long you being to run out of ideas, or just lack inspiration with the medium you are working with.  It’s very common for artists to work in a variety of mediums.  It allows more creativity I believe.  So I decided this week to start playing around with clay.  Now I have never worked with clay, outside of when I was a child and well playdough was a lot of fun.  Well let me tell you, that I feel like I’m a kid a again.  Talk about sparking some creativity.  I’ve been really enjoying molding and shaping the clay into pendants for jewelry.  Using different tools to add texture, sparkle and shape.

I guess what really matters for me is that I haven’t lost my inspiration, I just needed to try a different medium.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to get those creative juices flowing.  Next time you feel stuck in your business, look at what you are doing. Maybe it’s time to change it up, whether a different medium of art or a new way to decorate in your store.  Think outside the box, because sometimes that’s where your inspiration will come from.  Don’t hold yourself to just one style.

Creativity comes in a variety of ways.  Try something new and shake things up a little.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the results you get. Change the curtains in your windows, change the lighting, change something.  Change is good for you and your business.

Here are a few of the pieces I’ve worked on this week.  Let me know what you think.

Small Business Matters

Renee Gannon

 

artisans corner clay pendant clay pentacles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local Business vs. Corporate

support local businessMany of you know how passionate I am about independently owned small businesses.  I’m a small business owner, and believe in supporting small business as often as I can.  From my coffee at the local Cafe, to buying gifts from local shop owners or artists. Even for my wedding I supported local artists for wedding gifts and favors.  It’s an important part of my life and I do my best everyday to support small business, even if it’s just sharing their events on social media to help promote another local business.

So when I hear that a corporate giant wants to come into our town and tear down a historically significant building and boot out a small local business, it gets me pretty wound up to say the least. There is a place for corporate in every town, I know this, but to put a small business out of business for corporate greed just burns me up.  This country was founded on independently owned small businesses (mom and pop businesses). The movement across the country in the last several years proves that people want this back.  Can there be a balance in a small town with corporate and small business?  I believe there can.  But we need more people to back the movement of “Shop Local”, “Spend Local”, “Support Local” for this to happen.  Making a conscious effort to keep the money we spend in our own towns, supporting our own economy. Yes there are times we have to give our money to corporate, whether shopping for paper goods, food etc.  But there are plenty of ways we can show our support to our local businesses.

So the next time you drive through your town, make an effort to spend in your town. Whether a gift, coffee, food, or service you can make a difference.  You are supporting a local business, your town, a mother, father and family.  Your money stays in your local economy and helps to keep towns thriving and growing.

Just my thoughts. Feel free to share yours with us.

Small Business Matters

 

 

 

Does the weather effect your business?

small business mattersEver noticed how weather effects your business?  Whether it’s raining, sunny, snowing or just cold.  With the change of seasons also comes a change in weather. Have you really paid attention to how this effects your business.  Do you know which seasons are your busiest and slowest times? Take some time to pay attention to how the weather effects your business you might be surprised.

During the winter months we have to contend with cold temperatures, snow and ice.  Many people just don’t want to come out during this time period.  They go to work and go home. The thought for many isn’t to go out shopping, but to get home to their warm houses.  But there are ways you can attract customers during the winter months.  Consider having special events during the winter months that will bring people to your business. Maybe a ladies night out offering wine and refreshments along with a class you might offer. Looking at the positive side to winter and maybe consider a Winter Celebration, offering hot cocoa, snacks and entertainment.  Give your customers a reason to want to come out and visit your business. Many of us go a little stir crazy being cooped up in the house all winter and are looking for an activity to get them out.

What about spring, summer and fall?  These are warmer temperatures and many people are outside doing a variety of activities. Does that mean this time will be your busy time in business?  Not always, but there are ways to ensure that. Consider offering extended hours in the evening for those that are looking to get out later in the day. Many of us are either out playing with the children, doing yard work or enjoying vacations.  Staying open later allows people the chance to get out and visit your business when they have time. Again consider have special events in the evening that may attract your customers.

Don’t let the weather and change of season effect your business negatively.  Look for solutions, be creative and you might just see it works.

Happy Autumn

Small Business Matters

 

 

HOBBY OR BUSINESS? WHY IT MATTERS

SmallBizMatters:

Great article I thought was worth sharing.

Originally posted on TAMPA BAY BUSINESS TIPS:

hobby or businessMillions of Americans have hobbies such as sewing, woodworking, fishing, photography, gardening, stamp and coin collecting, but when that hobby starts to turn a profit, it might just be considered a business by the IRS.

Definition of a Hobby vs. a Business

The IRS defines a hobby as an activity that is not pursued for profit. A business, on the other hand, is an activity that is carried out with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit.

The tax considerations are different for each activity so it’s important for taxpayers to determine whether an activity is engaged in for profit as a business or is just a hobby for personal enjoyment.

Of course, you must report and pay tax on income from almost all sources, including hobbies. But when it comes to deductions such as expenses and losses, the two activities differ in their tax implications.

Is Your Hobby Actually…

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What We Can Learn From Convenience Store Layouts

store layoutSo while relaxing and enjoying our last day of our week vacation, I decided to watch some shows on the History Channel yesterday.  For most of the day they were playing the Modern Marvels show which I’ve always found interesting.  A great way to learn about many things we use or encounter daily.  This particular episode was on convenience stores.  I thought well lets see what it’s all about.

After watching the program it got me thinking, how can I apply that to our store.  Which then got me thinking further on how can all of us apply the way a convenience store layout is in our own business. Now I know we are not a convenience store and many of your small businesses may not be as well, but much of the information I learned can be used in any style retail business.

Layout is strategically planned by the store owners to provide a quick and easy flow and atmosphere for their customers. From the way the isles flow, to the cold beverages always on the back wall.  This layout forces customers to walk through isles to get to the cold beverage section and along the way seeing a variety of all product that may catch their attention.

Placing key items on the front counter where they check out, impulse items.  They know that customers will be more likely to grab them while waiting to get checked out if they are right there.

Layout is important in any small retail shop, whether you are a convenience store or not. Where you place your products, how the flow is from shelf to shelf in your store really makes a difference for the customers experience while shopping. The science says that when a person enters a store it is natural for them to turn to the right from entering the door.  So placing shelves to the right of your door with products that will catch their attention only seems like a novel idea to me.

In our store we have our  displays setup a certain way that flows naturally through our store.  Always remembering to allow for proper spacing between displays so not to crowd anyone shopping. Items that we want to grab attention are on a display closest to the checkout area, and sale items are usually displayed on a separate display.

Stop and pay attention the next time you walk into a convenience store or big box store and see how their layout is.  No, small businesses are not corporate, but we can learn from how they do it and tweak it to what works for us. You might just get a few ideas on display and layout that could help your store.

You can watch the full episode here.  Let us know what you think.

Small Business Matters

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