Yes, it’s been a few months since I last posted a blog. Sorry about the lapse in time since my last post. It’s been a very busy few months. Not something you usually hear from a small business during the cold winter months. Somehow we’ve been lucky to keep the sales up through this winter, even in February with historical cold temperatures and snow amounts.
We have just finally found our niche that keeps us going regardless of the weather it seems. Have you found your niche that keeps you going? That’s exactly what each small business needs to have to get through those “slow times” of the year. A product in your store that keeps your customers coming back on a regular basis. A renewable so to speak.
I’ve spoken with all my local businesses during this past winter and most of them went through the “slow time” with decreased sales, which for a small business is very scary. But what I have told them all is find that niche that makes your stand out and gives customers a need to shop with you. Yes many small businesses do better when the weather is more favorable. People are more likely to come out when it’s sunny and warm. But who wants to wait till warm weather to see their sales increase.
So what does a small business do to attract customers during the “slow times” of the year? Start by paying attention to your community? What seems to be something your community needs and doesn’t have available? Is this something you can add to your store? A good example is our town. We have a large artists community, but we have no art store. A place where artists can go and get their supplies. We could use a store of this type in our town. But why not look at that another way. If you have an existing business and have the room, why not consider having a section of your store carrying art supplies. This is a renewable that will help bring steady traffic into your store.
In our case we have two things that attract our customers. Our new age section which has a variety of herbs and oils along with spiritual gifts. Second is our vapor section. As vapor users ourselves for over three years we saw the need for it in our area and brought it in. Renewable items that keep customers coming in the door on a daily basis.
So take a few minutes to stop and look at your community and find that need that is not being met. Consider how you might add that to your store and you may be pleasantly surprised how quickly you see a difference in your sales.
Think outside the box. Be creative. Be You.
Small Business Matters
Well we made it through the holidays. Boy was that an interesting season for small businesses. We heard from many small businesses they saw a decrease in their in-store sales this past holiday season. According to several reports, even big retailers saw a decrease of up to 10% in their in-store sales. So at least it wasn’t just the small businesses. As you know though an decrease during a holiday season can be really tough. Small businesses depend on that extra boost during the holiday season to carry them through the slow times at the beginning of the new year.
So that’s beg’s the questions what happen and what do we need to change? The increase of on-line sales was huge this past holiday season. Several reports I read said that 80% of the holiday shopping was done on-line. So what can we do differently to be better prepared for next holiday season? Should you have an on-line store? Questions we must ask ourselves as we start the new year.
On-line shopping has been steadily increasing over the last several years. Does that mean this is right for your business? For many this may be the answer. Having an on-line outlet to sell your goods may be an option for some. Whether you use Etsy, Shopify or Amazon there are many options. But, this option may not be so simple for others.
In our case having an on-line store is not so easy. We have a brick and mortar and would find it difficult to keep up with inventory both in-store and on-line. You also incur new costs when selling on-line such as shipping costs and packing costs. We’ve given it some thought and feel for us keeping our sales in store is the best at this time. We are looking into whether or not our new POS would allow us to link up inventory in the store with an on-line store as an option. But there are many things we have to consider before we make that leap.
So what can you do if you are a business that finds the on-line shopping option a difficult one for you? It’s time to look at what you can do differently in your store to keep attracting new customers, even those that would be more likely to shop on-line vs. in-store. A few options to consider are:
Increased advertising (on-line, radio, newspapers)
Special sales throughout the year
Plan special shopping events
Bringing in a new product line that is a renewable
Visibility of store (signs, window displays etc)
Attend local shows with your product to reach a new demographic
These are just a few of the options you could look into to help increase visibility of your store. With the new year upon us now is the time to make change and improve your business anyway you can.
I know for us we have a variety of changes coming both inside and outside of our store. Changes that will draw more attention to our store and draw more customers in. So whether you are considering starting an on-line avenue or making other changes to your store, just remember that change is necessary for continued growth of your business.
Happy New Year
Small Business Matters
Well we are two days away from Christmas and Yule is upon us. This is a time to reflect on our family and friends. Yes as a small business we must concern ourselves about the shopping season as well, but during this time we need to stop and take time for ourselves and family. Not everything has to be business 24/7.
So during this holiday season I am taking sometime to reflect on all the wonderful things that surround me in my life. My wonderful husband, parents and in-laws that I am blessed to have in my life. I also take time to remember those who we love that are not with us this year. I’m thankful that we have our business as trying as it can be sometimes and for all those who have supported us over the years. I will take time to walk with nature and appreciate all the beauty that surrounds us.
Regardless of how well or not well your businesses holiday season did this year, stop to think about just how lucky we are to be here and have the opportunity to have our business.
Once the holidays have past then you can take some time to reflect on this past year and how your business did. Plan for the New Year, changes that you would like to make and see happen. But during the holidays put business aside and really pay attention to the true meaning. A great line from Dr. Seuss is a good reminder for all of us, ”
It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
Christmas truly is something more than presents and spending money. It’s a time to spend with our families and build memories for years to come.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy Yule to everyone.
Small Business Matters
Well we are in the heart of the holiday 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.
Small Business Matters
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
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.
Small Biz Matters
As 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.
Well, 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
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
Many 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