Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday Gift Post--The Search for the Ever Elusive Lunchbox.

Last year I think I chronicled my travails in getting some back-to-school lunchboxes and water bottles into the store. On the adult side, with the collapse of the reference market, there's little to really mark the season, saleswise, but on the kids' side, there are a number of picture books and early readers that are school themed, and parents often like to acclimate kids with these stories. I get the feeling that teachers also use them at the beginning of the school year.

There are many complications to having a school year start in September instead of August, like much of the rest of the country. The authors go on tour earlier than our schools can handle them. And by the time I am ready to buy these little lunchboxes, the vendors are sold out. That's what happened last year.

My first choice had nothing available, and didn't let me know about this in the showroom--it was only when I got the invoice that I found out. My second choice did a funny thing with discount. Unlike just about every gift line I deal with, they didn't make the list price at least double the basic net price. You actually had to place a huge order to get it to keystone (insidery term, I thought you'd enjoy that). So once I saw the official list price, I cancelled that order.

The third order was the charm, but even though the product is beautiful, and very well made, sell through was spotty. Water bottles went fine, lunch bags were so so, but the mini backpacks were a dud. We've now got that line on sale for 25% off, and if it sells through at that price point, I might bring it in again, only I'll buy it a bit differently.

So this year we wound up with lunch bags, water bottles, and travel bags from Stephen Joseph. My old rep will attest that I've been looking to bring this line in since we opened, but I could never get the order right. I went with the bookmarks, which then went out of stock. One season all the stuff I liked had photo slots, which I didn't like. But this year everything worked. Oh, except for the fact that a nearby chain competitor stocks it pretty aggressively. Oops, I didn't remember that from last year.

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