Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tips for Retail Selling


 
Sell something unique, blue topaz cushion earrings
 

Whether you have a brick and mortar store or an on-line website, if you’re in retail the object is to sell things. While many retailers in the brick and mortar category are having trouble as evidenced by their moving up Black Friday to Black Thanksgiving, you don’t have to worry if you do things right. There are many stores that are doing well and are closed for Thanksgiving. It is probably smarter to follow their lead instead of the K-mart/Sears marketing system.

 

Sell at a good price, Charles Hubert Paris 3869-S
 
 
First off know what your customer wants but don't compete with Goliath. While there are items that sell well, sometimes you just can’t compete with the big boys. Yes, 60” TVs and other electronics sell but it is really hard to compete against Costco and Egghead for electronics. Be a niche seller. Go for the unusual, unique or simply hard to fine. There is a retailer who sells nothing but pocket watch chains. They make them to order with the chain style of your choice in the pattern you choose. Few do this so chances are when someone is looking for a custom pocket watch chain, they're it!

 

Find products that are uncommon, quick click belts
 
 
Second, be courteous. Answer questions, promptly. Never discount customer service and how it can help you make a sale. Now I’m not saying be pushy. No one wants to spend time playing the used car salesman question and answer game, “What can I do to make you buy it now?” This is annoying and really doesn’t increase sales. You want to be there for the customer to answer question and explain the product. Customers are pretty savvy and with on-line stores it’s easier than ever to price shop. You have to stand out by offering superior customer service.

 

Go for pretty, cherry amber earrings
 
 
Finally, keep your products in stock. You can’t sell it if you don’t have it. Nothing is more annoying than finding what you like but not being able to purchase it. Nothing will turn a customer off faster than not being able to walk out of the store with their purchase. This rule doesn’t apply to special order items or one of a kind. Even if you can get it quickly from another location you can still lose the sale because we do live in an instant gratification society. If you know your top sellers, have them in stock. A little bit of planning goes a long way to making your store profitable, do your homework and you will survive.
 
Sell things people need, gold mesh evening bag

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Black Friday?


Due to a technical error I am currently unable to load pictures to my blog. Basically I'm saying that I'm a total idiot when it comes to computers and my tech support (hubby) isn't around, bummer...


I know I seem like I’m on a rant about Black Friday and how it is encroaching upon Thanksgiving, but I’m trying very hard to understand why people go to such extremes to save money. Do we really need that item? Is it fair to all the employees who have to give up their holiday to help you? Do you really save that much money to make camping out in front of a store worth it? While some people can justify this retail holiday, other probably cannot.

I spoke to a young man sitting in front of our local Best Buy. He and two of his buddies are taking turns to be the first in line so they can purchase a TV. They estimate that they will save approximately $500 each on these TVs. So I guess camping out for four days and missing Thanksgiving is worth the $1500 total savings. This begs the question of whether anyone else in line will get a deal anywhere near as good. How many special deals on TVs can Best Buy afford to give out?

Most of the really good deals are limited, so why do people come? It doesn’t make any sense unless you consider these people are like Pavlov’s dog. They are conditioned to think the best deals are only available on Thanksgiving or the day after. Not so, there are many good deals available throughout the month and even throughout the year. This is partially the stores’ fault in that they have also fallen into the trap of Black Friday and can’t get up. Sales are down in many of these stores that are opening earlier because their sales throughout the year are dismal.

Many stores have forgotten that effective marketing is a year round job. A store must draw customers to its front door and once there give them a reason to buy. Stores like Costco are closed on holidays because they have customers all year round. They also charge people a fee for the privilege to shop. This goes against the principals that many of these Black Friday stores are touting. Draw the customer in for frenzied shopping by convincing them only one day is available. Word of advice, give them a reason to shop often and they will come. Tomorrow I will discuss strategies for getting customers to your store.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tents are Going Up at Best Buy




Camping isn't what it used to be



When you think of camping you probably think of Yosemite or some other picturesque National Park. You think campfires, toasted marshmallows and hiking. You don’t think “Hey, I’m going to pitch a tent in front of Best Buy,” but that’s exactly what some people in Pinole California are doing. Apparently Best Buy will be opening its doors at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day and people are desperate for the best deals.

 Crazy!


This is a horrible situation. People feel such a need to get that big screen TV at a bargain they are willing to give up a holiday. What is even more fascinating is the required camping out. The store won’t open until 6pm on Thursday and people are pitching tents on Sunday. This means that they have to “man” their position for five days. Now I like to shop but spending five days living in a tent isn’t my idea of a good time, no matter how cheap that TV.



Why even have a tent if this is how you use it?



People need to get perspective. Part of the problem is those who participate. If no one was there camping out in front of the store, with lines that go around the building, retailers wouldn’t bother. Unfortunately, there is a frenzied stampede to be the first in line, to be that one or two consumers who snag that unbelievable deal. Now I love shopping as much as the next person but I don’t want to shop like it’s the “Hunger Games.” It takes all the fun out of shopping.



I beg to differ...



We need to take our holiday back from all the retailer forced consumerism. We need to stay home and give thanks for what we already have, not what we are about to buy. This means no pitching tents to save your place in line to attend a store opening when you should be sitting down for dinner. No Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving. We should be spending time with family and letting those who work retail enjoy the holiday also. Let’s face it, the shopping season is long enough, we don’t need to trample on Thanksgiving Day dinner.



Even in the rain they wait


Friday, November 22, 2013

Wedding Anniversary

Maybe I'll get a new diamond ring!

I am taking the day off because it is my wedding anniversary. There are few days throughout the year when one can simply say "I don't have to work at something." Today is that day. So I'm having myself a three day weekend.

Or some new leather pants




 Or how about a new clutch




Jewelry works for me, by David Yurman



A whole new outfit would be nice...any excuse to go shopping



















Thursday, November 21, 2013

In Defense of Zappos.com

Look Kanye, Zappos made a product just for you!



I will be the first person to admit that I know nothing about Kanye West. I know he is a rapper/performer and I also know he is mixed up with Kim Kardashian. I couldn’t tell you what he specifically does other than piss people off and walks around with a perpetual scowl on his face. Yet he has gone too far this time by bad mouthing my beloved Zappos.com.


Their product page


I have not hidden my shoe addiction. I browse regularly on Zappos.com for shoes. I love boots and they have an awesome selection. I have purchased so many shoes from Zappos.com that I am a VIP and get free next day shipping. I know…this last piece of information is a little scary. One of the things I like about Zappos is my ability to shop and get a pair of shoes via the internet and if I don’t like them or they don’t fit I can send them back for free. They make it easy to shop.


I have these Frye boots from Zappos.com


Zappos.com also pioneered the demonstration video for all their shoes. They have a short clip whereby someone explains the fit, features and how a particular shoe will wear. They always have lots of pictures and reviews so I know what I’m looking at before I buy. Yes, some of their products are inexpensive but a majority of the offerings are quite exceptional. I bought some Frye boots a few years ago and am still wearing them.


I liked the black so much I bought them in brown from Zappos.com


I would boycott Kanye but I already own nothing associated with him. So I guess I will continue on my merry way and ignore him. I would like to take this opportunity to say that Zappos.com’s CEO Tony Hsieh responded with his own funny and creative comeback. It doesn’t appear as if these guys are letting a few nasty words from a generally nasty guy impair their sense of humor. The perfect way to respond to a bully.

Didn't know that Alexander McQueen made poor quality shoes, but that is what Kanye insinuated


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Buy Your Holiday Presents Online

This is insane



Okay I’m going to join in on the whole Black Friday as Thanksgiving Day thing. I personally enjoy Thanksgiving because it gives me an excuse to cook a huge turkey, get my kids to come over to eat and then be lazy around the house after we stuff ourselves. I can’t image standing out in the cold waiting for a store to open or standing in line while food is still digesting.


Ah, nothing like togetherness on a holiday


I read somewhere that stores who open on Black Friday, or what is now becoming Black Thanksgiving, are having a harder time financially. Stores like Costco do well all year round so they have no need to be open on Thanksgiving. Stores like Target, Walmart and Kmart are having a particularly hard time and can’t take one day off from selling. A lost retail day hits those in financial trouble hardest of all.


Unless they're giving away free money, I'll stay home


While I totally understand that staying open in order to keep things in the black is important, I find it hard to think that one or two days out of an entire year will make that big of a difference. If your store is in such financial trouble that closing for two days out of the year will cause you irreparable harm, you’re doing something seriously wrong business wise and need to rethink your business plan.


I think everyday should be cyber Monday


I will not be working so please don’t expect a blog. Although I might take pictures of my food preparation for some variation on a holiday because who doesn’t love pictures of food. This was why cameras were put in cell phones. So instead of standing in the cold I’m going to be staying home and enjoying putting myself and my family in a food coma. That is what tradition is all about.

That's right, food comas are awesome! Ask the hamster.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Ring from The Hobbit is Real!

The Ring of Silvianus was 1 inch in diameter



I was doing a little research into curses on jewelry. The most popular curse is The Hope Diamond, but there are of course various pieces that have supposed curses. All of them having their own special meaning and significance. While doing this research I happened upon the story of the Ring of Silvianus or the Vyne Ring. The Ring of Silvianus is a gold ring from the 4th century that was found in a Hampshire England field in 1785.

It's now on display in England

The ring became known as the Vyne Ring because the Chute family owned the nearby property and purchased the ring from the farmer who found it; their country house was called The Vyne. Around 1929 another site was being excavated about 80 miles from the site where the ring was discovered. This was the site of a Roman Temple dedicated to the god Nodens. At this site a lead plaque was found, this plaque was known as a curse tablet.


The movie version of the cursed ring


The archeologist at this excavation was Sir Mortimer Wheeler, a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien. Wheeler was the one who made the connection between the ring known as the Vyne Ring and the curse tablet found at the Roman Temple. Wheeler needed a little help with meaning of the name Nodens, who was this god, and went to Tolkien. It is theorized that Wheeler told Tolkien about the ring and of course the curse. This curse is in itself an interesting story.


J.R.R. Tolkien had quite the imagination


The curse stated “For the god Nodens, Silvianus has lost a ring, and has donated one half (its worth) to Nodens. Among those named Senicianus, permit no good health until it is returned to the temple of Nodens.” So this was a real ring whereby the owner lost it, cursed the thief and then wanted it returned to a temple of a god. Sound familiar? While obviously Tolkien fleshed out the story a lot more, one can see the seeds of an idea planted by a ring with a curse tablet and it seems the ring from The Hobbit was actually real.


"Oh my precious"


Monday, November 18, 2013

Nothing Lasts Forever

Some times a worn look adds to the charm



Well, that’s not exactly true. Diamonds can last forever and so do the payments. When I say that nothing lasts forever I’m generally referring to most accessories and other small bits and pieces we purchase throughout our lives. I discussed storage and care of leather last week and it is true that taking good care of your leather items will extend their lives, but it won’t make it last forever.


Worn out belts generally don't look good


A leather belt is one of those items that will wear out quickly if wore daily. You can have the most expensive, quality made and high end belt on the market and I can guarantee it will wear out eventually. Once you put that little metal tag inside that leather hole you’ve already created a wear spot. Most people do not change up the place where they place this tag so the same hole gets a lot of wear and tear until something finally gives.


Even genuine leather doesn't last forever


What I find amazing is the number of people who complain about a worn out belt or purse or leather strap on a watch as if wearing it had nothing to do with its demise. Believe it or not, there is an entire industry out there that sells new belts, purses and watch straps because they know you will need another one someday. Notice I didn’t say want but need? Yes, some things are made more cheaply and wear out quicker, but some items have a finite lifespan.


If you wear them most everyday they will wear out


So the next time you get frustrated with the retailer who sold you a watch a year ago, that you wore every day for the past year, think about your part in the wearing down of that leather strap. While most retailers make guarantees against manufacturer’s defects for years, they can’t make a guarantee that the product won’t be abused and eventually wearing out. Yelling at us doesn’t make our holiday season any merrier and I’m sure it doesn’t make your day any brighter. Just remember retailers are people too.


There is an entire industry involved in the replacing of worn out leather watch bands

Friday, November 15, 2013

Care and Storage of Leather


Leather jackets come in a variety of styles

We’re heading into the cooler weather season and leather is probably a fashion you will now get to use. Leather jackets, leather handbags and even leather pants are all possible fashion choices as the weather cools down, but leather needs special care and storage. I found out that folding leather is a big no-no. If you fold leather it can crease when left sitting in a drawer or on a shelf for the summer. Do this often and permanent creases will appear ruining the smooth look.


All your leather products need care


It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care. This should be located on a tag inside the garment. Most of us don’t read these tags so I’m going to read it for you. Mine says “wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge.” Not super helpful, so I’m going with the obvious, always have leather cleaned by a professional. This is of course if you need a major cleaning, not just a small spot. Never rub a spot and of course avoid saturating the leather with water.


Leather has a multitude of looks


If you do happen to get caught in the rain, allow the leather to air dry. Do not use heat. Always hang your jacket on a padded hanger with wide shoulders so the jacket hangs straight to reduce creases or folds. Store your handbag with clean tissue or rolled up old t-shirts to maintain shape. Leather pants or skirt should be clipped to hangers so they hang straight down. Always add some type of padding so the clips won’t leave a mark or dent.


If you take care of that jacket it will last a long time


Proper storage is probably 90 percent of the caring for leather. Improperly stored leather will dry out, crack or develop creases and dents. Leather really isn’t as durable as most people think and it does get old. Do not store leather in plastic bags; it needs to breath and if it becomes cracked or dry use leather conditioner. Always test in an inconspicuous place before treating the entire piece to see if it changes the color or tone of the leather. With just a little care leather can last a very long time and be enjoyed for many seasons to come.


 Proper storage of leather pants keep them smooth and dent free

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Pink Star

A beautiful diamond



The world’s most expensive diamond just sold in auction for $83 million. It is a beautiful pink diamond and it appears to be set in a ring. Not sure if anyone will wear it other than the model that stood on stage during the auction, but wouldn’t it be grand to have it on your finger, even for a minute. I thought this would be wonderful, at least until security took me away.


Lovely color


Apparently it took only five minutes for the auction to be decided and of course no one is talking about who won the bid. I’ve seen pictures and it is a beautiful slightly lavender colored oval diamond that is 59.60 carats. According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), it’s the biggest diamond in its class ever graded; the next one down is half its size. The diamond measures 2.69 by 2.06 centimeters and weighs 11.92 grams. It’s quite the rock.

 A very lucky girl wearing that diamond

Its beauty doesn’t end there, other than being tops in clarity and color it also falls into a subgroup of rare diamond crystal purity. Only about two percent of the graded diamonds fall into this subgroup of optical transparency. So it’s shiny and it’s clear. It is truly amazing and the size and color made me stare in awe. I know it won’t go into a museum where everyone can enjoy it, but we can always hope it will be on display somewhere. I would love to see this amazing diamond in person.


The smile on her face says it all


Like anything totally rare and unique this diamond started out as a rough diamond that was 132.5 carats. It took two years to cut and polish it into the perfect oval by Steinmetz Diamonds. It was discovered in a De Beers mine in 1999 and was shown to the public in 2003 as the “Steinmetz Pink.” I like the title of the “Pink Star” better; it has a more classic ring. Any way you slice it, it’s one amazing diamond.

PS: Tiny update, the diamond has already been renamed "Pink Dream."


Incredibly huge


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Does Style Equal Classy Manners?

 
This must be a fluke, no one dresses up to walk down the street
 

I just read an article about how our Grandparents were so stylish. That there was a time when life was simpler and people enjoyed each other and their surroundings. Women dressed up to go out and run errands; people had cocktail parties and wore pretty dresses and suits. Men commuted on trains and wore hats. People said ‘thank you” and “your welcome” frequently. It begs the question, have we become less classy? Are we losing our manners as we lose the need to wear a dress or a suit?

 

Oh wait...these ladies did...
 
 
In our world of instant gratification and equality did we lose something along the way? Did we forget our manners? Did we become unfriendly hermits who never leave the computer screens in our caves even for a chance to drink alcohol in delicate glasses while nibbling on a tasty hor d’ oeuvre? There once was an easier time when people socialized in person instead of on a computer and this generally required a better wardrobe, but does a better wardrobe make us better people?

 

and so did the ladies in the golf club...
 
 
When I get all dressed up I feel better about myself. If I take the time to make sure I look as good as possible, I don’t feel as down. I also notice that those who do the same seem cheerier and exhibit better manners. People hold the door more often, say “thank you” and generally behave better when they are appropriately dressed. I’ve had the door held for me by more people in work clothes than anyone dressed in sweatpants. Coincidence, I think not.

 

Wow, she wore a fur stole in broad daylight
 
 
Our society has turned more towards acceptance of personal idiosyncrasies than conformity to societal norms. While this is probably a good thing, it has hastened the demise of manners or a more formal manner of behavior. So while society is more accepting of our pajama pants in public, let’s not forget our manners. Hold the door for someone today, give a little space to the next person in line, say “thank you” to the checker at the grocery store. Manners aren’t class related; it’s something everyone should practice regardless of what you’re wearing.
 
Well at least he wore a suit jacket and tie