Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saturday Gift Post--What Do You Do When You Can't Sell Enough Bookends to Justify the Space? Send in the Mugs.

I've been struggling with what to do with our bookend case for about two years now. I thought it was important to have bookends--I've never worked in a store without them. The problem is twofold. The demand isn't there except for Christmas (and I'm not saying we sell none, just that it's slow). And secondly, the ones that are really nice are really December pricepoints and the ones that hit the everyday price point are generally not that nice. The only real success I've had outside of the holidays was when I put them on clearance.

I came up with the idea to replace the bookend case with a mug case, as it's something we've consistently sold well on displays, but when the themed display comes down, we simply don't have a good place for the item. After thinking it through, I couldn't find a good place to put a smaller assortment of bookends. The solution was a bookend/mug case hybrid. We call it "bookends and mugs" or sometimes "mugs and bookends."

Interestingly enough, some mugs come boxed and gift ready, like our assortments of Penguin Classics (which I think were put together by Wild and Wolff) and the Tardis and Cheshire Cat from Unemployed Philosophers Guild. Mugs from Tag, Creative Coop, or other home vendors tend to come loose. My big order that sort of defined the section came from the new wholesale division of Fish's Eddy. Unfortunately they already discontinued their New York Times crossword puzzle mug (yes I'm a bit bummed), but they did have a few other snazzy items available.

We have the Roz Chast mug, the bicycle mug, the math mug, and two designs from Charley Harper--the nuthatch and the painted bunting. So far the big winner has been the bicycle mug, but that's partly because it's doing double duty on the bicycle table. In the end, we're going to have some of the same problem with the mug bookcase that we did with the bookends--it's just hard to see. I expect to have most of our mugs still do double duty on table displays.

Speaking of something that has had good visual placement and sales results, we got another order of animal bracelets in. I started with an assortment, but that left out some designs we particularly enjoyed, so we went back and ordered by sku, restocking favorites like sitting cat, pig, ladybug, and frog, and adding butterfly, snake, and turtle, which is the only item besides the owl which comes in multiple colors. I haven't yet seen a purple turtle in the wild, but I'm a bit of a city slicker. We've also got a new turtle wristlet--it's just like our turtle purse, only smaller.

While I found the mugs at the Chicago gift show in January, I have to go back to January 2012 to determine the source of the bracelets, which was the Atlanta gift show. At the time, my eye was drawn to the key chains and purses. While I was at the booth, two fellows came up and started placing a huge order of bracelets, with almost drunken glee. What the hey, I thought, Boswell can't sell bracelets like that? Or can we?

Now to start worrying about our Jim Gaffigan event tonight. We'll start setting up around 3 and do a store count of customers at 5. Exit and entry before the event will be through the Starbucks door only (as Saturday night is not peak hour for them and this could spur some business) and as we've said previously, we'll temporarily close when we hit capacity.

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