Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday Gift Post--When Does One Panic About Overordering Things for Christmas?

Not enough? Too much? It's the struggle that any buyer contends with, though it's not a secret that many of our book purchases are exchangeable for other merchandise. Not without cost, of course, one pays for freight back and takes a penalty from our wholesalers. And more and more POD titles are nonreturnable.

But with gift, the rule is nonreturnable (with some exceptions). And since we don't buy with the same margins as mass merchants (nor the same shared markdowns they often negotiatiate), you want to guess these things correctly.

It's nice when we sell through on items, like our cute metal crows (all gone) and silver birds (adios, pajaro!). And the ceramic penguins, which were supposed to be sold in a box of six, but we didn't think the box was sturdy enough, wound up being a big hit sold loose. They are all gone. So our penguins playing among the Christmas trees tableau is now deers grazing among the Christmas trees. The deers are ornaments, but you can cut the string off and wouldn't know the difference.

Sometimes we'll restock, as we did for our owl mugs (we've now sold 20, which is good for us) and the hanging globes (which I'm happy to see in the store post-Christmas. They are a good deal and who doesn't want some globes hanging from their ceiling?). And acorns. How can you not have acorns when it's a forest friends Christmas?

But what happens when you buy too much? Last year I underordered our boxed holiday cards, and so I actually brought in more this year. In the back of my mind, however, I wonder if I forgot to include a vendor in the calculations, and are sales trending down, and how last minute is our business? We've already sold out of a number of varieties, but I wish our inventory was a tad lower.

And our loose holiday and Christmas cards? It's more last minute, but let's just say we currently have a very nice selection.

Regarding our Chanukah, we brought in a small assortment, 2 kinds of boxed and five loose. We needed more, you say? Why? All the other ones looked exactly the same. Dreidel, menorah, Star of David, all on a field of blue, or alternately, in blue ink on a field of white. I think we'd sell more if I could find nicer ones. The one we sold out of had a dog on it. Dog? For Chanukah? That's crazy. This out of the box canine reference led to a quick sellout.

Oh and I also restocked more puzzles. We got in a Piatnik order not that long ago, but then I decided to order from New York Puzzle Company. Those are the ones with the New Yorker covers. I also brought in a few Popular Mechanics. I liked the one with all the old car models. Maybe that interest is from shopping for a vehicle.

Then Amie asked me if we were going to get that unnamed-here brand puzzles in at the good price we had last year. And so, we brought in about seven more designs, which we are selling at 20% off the original price.

The problem is, of course, that sales accelerate in the last two weeks. For books, we can restock things (if they are in stock at the wholesalers) until the last week. For gift product, unless I am buying it for post-holiday, our time to second guess is pretty much over.

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