Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Gift Post with a Special Valentine Carol (That Goes "Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love, Fa La La La La, La La La La")

Have I mentioned that like every other store in the world, we put our Valentine's Day display up the day after Christmas? According to Jason, the fact that we didn't cover the entire front of the store with Valentine's Day stuff set us apart from many other retailers. The fact of the matter is that the product really has to come in before Christmas in order to get it in time, and so, as the only thing you really have that's fresh, you feel almost compelled to put it out.

And yet the holiday is a traditionally last-minute purchase. That said, we set up a display table and a card spinner in the center of the store and we've been selling some cards. I increased our assortment over last year as we pretty much sold out in 2010. Some of them say Valentine, others have hearts and will revert to being "blank" or "friendship" after the holiday. It is not unusual for card companies to repurpose love and anniversary artwork with Valentine messages. Now you know.

Our sales were so good that I brought back in many of the cards we sold last year. with the addition of some pop up cards, and some new designs from artists we do well with, like Misha Zadeh. We've got some nice pop up cards (only one person even noticed that I didn't bring in the Christmas pop ups*) and more designs from our fair trade Africa line.

I am still not going too heavy on Valetine gift items. Last year we sold through our heart-filled boxed cards, had a decent sell through on our Valentine ducks (there was some markdown involved) and had sadly, did not do well on the Valentine fortune teller. Somebody is making this work, as I saw it in the new catalog at full price. You can get ours at 75% off. Two dollars for a fortune? Seems like a good deal.

New? We've got Farrah the love bear, some thumb puppet love bugs and butterflies (with heart shaped wings), plus still to come are some heart-shaped puzzles. Hard to describe, but we all liked them. They are 3D. Sadly, I passed on a lot of product for either being too plain or too schmaltzy. I am looking for whimsy here. I think I am going to design my own stuff for 2012. Or I would if I could.

This year we are also selling multi-pack Valentines for kids to give out in class. We could only remember one year that Schwartz brought things like this in (I'm only going back about 10 years or so; our collective memories have issues) and they sold through quite well. The next year the buyer knew we were closing after Christmas and didn't restock. And the next year I didn't really see something in our price point that would still be nicer than what you find at mass merchants.

When I spotted these assortments at 20 for $5.95 with very nice artwork, I got excited, and so did other stores, as even though I placed the order in December, they were already out of three of the designs I requested. The minimums were a little high for us, not knowing how we'd do, so we contacted Next Chapter and decided to go in halfsies. The assortments we both have are monster cars, mermaids, monkeys, robots, and wacky animals. And if I may concur, these animals are nothing if not wacky. We're already selling them pretty well and we haven't even hit the prime sales time of February.

We've got a nice Valentine's display of books too. But I'll save that for a weekday. This is a gift post, dag nab it!

*I've got one customer who is saddened that we, like most other stores in metro Milwaukee, don't seem to be bringing in the high-end Robert Sabuda pop up cards anymore. I loved them too--having sent them to friends and business associates for a number of years, but their price point is tough. That said, he buys so many that we can probably put in an order just for him. So we might have something for holiday 2011.


Anonymous said...

I think Beans and Barley is still selling the Robert Sabuda pop-up cards?

Daniel Goldin said...

They did not bring in new designs in 2010, nor did the art museum. (Or if they did, they were out of them by early December--I should double-check that with Lynn). And we actually bought all of Next Chapter's clearance cards! As the Bean-istas know, I regularly send customers down there for product. I actually contacted the rep for a list of metro-Milwaukee retailers who carried the line.