Yes, ‘tis the season once again to strategize, place orders and brace (AKA hope, pray, affirm, visualize) for the upcoming holidays. As a body-mind-spirit themed indie shop owner, you know it’s more than simply buying the right merchandise, sticking to a budget, hiring good help, and creating attractive displays. It’s equally important to “walk your shop’s talk,” and to have the intention of truly serving in some way. That means making sure you feel good about what you’re doing with and in your shop. Besides adjusting your attitude to reflect the true spirit of the holidays – love, family, giving, caring, peace, joy, – your unique shop has other significant messages to deliver. Being a living example reflecting what these ‘holy-days’ are truly about is just as important as selling products. People support your store because of vibes, philosophy, ambiance, authentic caring and a unique collection of items they can’t find other places. Remember, you’re not in competition with department stores, nor should you strive to be like them. However, adopting and adapting some of their tried-and-true ideas isn’t a bad idea. Here are five suggestions to make sure you’re on your right path that can help both you and customers during the oft-times frazzling holiday season:
As an independent shop owner, you have the luxury of selling the type of items you want to sell, choices that express your values and philosophy. So, fill your shelves with things that reflect what’s important, gifts espousing positive, uplifting messages. While it may be tempting to bow to the pressure of carrying something simply for its triple markup or guaranteed quick turnover, customers feel it when you’re not being true to the ideals your espousing. Instead, choose inventory from local vendors whenever possible; find soul-nurturing merchandise; select earth friendly items that helps heal Gaia. Energetically, feeling good about what you sell always works. Suggestion: Have in-store product demonstrations or give out free samples that allow customers a hands-on experience. Some vendors may even support this by coming in and doing it for you, or providing samples at discount. Ask!
Avoid OCC (Over Consumption Consumerism)
As an earth-conscious steward, resist pushy sales tactics and discourage over-purchasing simply because it’s the holidays. This will help conserve precious planetary resources, and diminish shopping addiction mentality. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the “more is better” mindset, especially since your yearly budget might depend on December sales carry through. However, your heart will feel better knowing you sold meaningful rather than mass-produced; you promoted necessary versus disposable; you provided nourishing instead of ‘fluff.’ Instead, encourage customers to spread the word about your shop and perhaps offer a referral discount. Start a loyalty program or frequent buyers’ club. To encourage fun customer participation, hold a contest of some kind: “Update Santa’s Reindeer Names for 2018;” or “Win a Gift Basket for the Best Window Display,” “Guess the number of snow days in December,” etc.
Be an example of a not-for-cut-throat community by strategically teaming up with other non-competitive shops. Perhaps a street-wide open house complete with holiday entertainment or strolling carolers; an after-hours VIP pre-holiday sale; or plan a big To-Do inviting local officials or celebrities. This could be as simple as neighboring shops agreeing to cross-promote, referring customers whenever appropriate. Or, table-talkers at local restaurants offering free dessert with proof-of-purchase at your shop. Two true clichés to remember: We are all in this together, and what goes around comes around!
Do you have some slow-moving items you’d love to give new life to (read: get rid of)? Did you order something you’ve never tried carrying before? Pair them up creatively yet coherently. Tie a holiday bow around a bar of soap and a scented holiday candle; hang an ornament on top of a holiday-themed organic tea towel; place packages of incense inside a ceramic mug. Always attach a business card somewhere. Make clever signage explaining these partnerships (“Pairs of the Season,” “Better Than Two Turtle Doves,” etc.). Offer this no-brainer double sale at a discount, of course, and pin it on Pinterest – another great sales tool!
As you proudly walk your talk, it’s important to express your shop’s specialness in words. It’s too easy to get lost in the barrage of holiday commercialism and online shopping. When was the last time you updated your Mission Statement or tagline, boasting these words on business cards, website, etc.? Does your advertising reflect these techy times by (finally) starting that blog? Or, stay old school by sending out hand-written holiday cards? Whatever changes you make, compose a concise press release, bragging to local papers. They love stories about community, but make sure it doesn’t sound like a ploy for free advertising!