25 July 2009

Indiana firms help their neighbors

Two exhibitors at the just-ended Chicago gift show are helping employees who were laid off from their jobs with recreational vehicle manufacturers. Indiana is the center of the RV and mobile home industries.
M.E.W.S. By Design, Wakarusa, Ind., hired laid-off seamstresses to make purses, bags and totes from fabrics used in RV and mobile home interiors. The company is represented by the sales agency Duncan & Co., based in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.
Likewise, Joi Bags of Goshen, Ind., has hired laid-off seamstresses to sew its fabric, vinyl and leather bags. The material would have been sent to landfills if not reclaimed by Joi. Half of the proceeds are used to help orphanages in Asia.

Silver and gold jewelry




Rock Candy jewelry by Jill Italiano. Click picture for a larger view.The Vine collection of handmade jewelry by Jill Italialno. Click picture for a larger view.

Jewelry maker Jill Italiano has a new line of glass jewelry, which she describes as "fine silver silhouettes in glass." Rock Candy (left, click for larger view) is available in a broad range of poppy colors. Each piece comes with both a faux suede 30-inch necklace and an 18-inch stainless ball chain (a sterling chain is available as an upgrade). Rock Candy includes smaller pendants and earrings.
The Vine line (right, click for larger view) is made in fine silver or gold-filled wire versions, with natural stones. The line consists of pendants, bracelets and earrings.



Retailers: Contact the artist for prices and minimum orders. Or, see her at gift shows in Philadelphia and New York this summer.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order these items for you.

24 July 2009

Photo frame

A photo frame designed by suzy Toronto for Seasons of Cannon Falls "Our family" is one of three wood photo frames by the designer Suzy Toronto for Seasons of Cannon Falls. This frame measures 8 1/2 inches wide and 6 1/2 inches tall. It holds a 4x6 photo. Other frames in the series are "Girlfriends" and "Sisters."



Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimum orders.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order this product for you.

23 July 2009

New for Valentine's Day 2010

Gund  Love Tees teddy bear Love Tees are a trio of 8-inch-tall plush animals with removable red tee-shirts. In addition to the bear (shown), Gund offers Gunther the gorilla and Smooching Stanley, a monkey.
The gifts are available for Valentine's Day 2010.


Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimum orders.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order this item for you.

22 July 2009

Breast cancer awareness gifts

Signify Pink is part of the Sigler Companies, Des Moines and Ames Iowa. Signify Pink tote bag. Click for a larger view.Signify Pink t-shirt Click for a larger view.Signify Pink hoodie hooded sweatshirt. Click for a larger view.


Signify Pink's "Fight Like A Girl" slogan and pink ribbon appear on tote bags, apparel and travel mugs. A portion of sale proceeds are donated to breast cancer causes.
Apparel includes tee-shirts, hooded and crewneck sweatshirts, short- and long-sleeve shirts, velour hoodies and pants, surgical scrubs and more. The company also offers water bottles, notecards, buttons, infant onesies, window clings and magnet sets. The products are also available for fund-raising groups.
Retailers and the general public can order items from the Signify Pink website. Retailers in the Atlantic states and the Midwest can order from The Ivystone Group.

21 July 2009

Guest towels, aprons

Dena Fishbein designs aprons and guest towels for Peking Handicraft Inc.
Peking Handicraft has new everyday and holiday textile designs by Dena Fishbein. The lines are called Happi Owl and Snow Flower. The items include full and half aprons and guest towels.




Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimum orders.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order these items for you.

Lessons from other industries, 3

“If we treated our customers the way we treat our employees, pretty soon we wouldn’t have any customers.”
A hotelier told me that back when I was writing about the hotel industry. It’s a pretty good test of any business’s approach to customer service.
Think about it. How do you treat your employees?
  • Are you suspicious of them?
  • Do you act like they are stealing from you?
  • Do you act as if they can’t think for themselves?
  • Do you have a dictatorial streak?
Would you act this way towards your customers? Of course not.

Are you a boss or a colleague? Do you treat your staff as adults or as children? Do you allow your employees to make their own decisions about special orders or refunds, for example? Have you “empowered” them (as HR managers like to say) or must they always ask you first?
With their words and actions, some employers treat their employees like feeble-minded children, con artists, or goof-offs who don’t want to work. If your staff does behave like children, then examine your interviewing and hiring practices. Maybe you are hiring individuals who can only perform at the level of a slow-witted child. Why are you doing that?
Hire smart people with a good work ethic. Educate them about your standards for greeting customers, for selling, and for follow-up. Allow your employees to make decisions on the spot without them having to track you down to ask permission.
Treat your employees with fairness and respect. Just as you do your customers.

Lessons from other industries, 2
Lessons from other industries, 1

20 July 2009

Gift cards for all occasions

Gently Spoken released a new line of cards called "Just gotta tell you . . ." Each card is 16 pages and measures 8 3/8 inches by 5 1/2 inches, with a die-cut window. Cards are printed on FSC-certified recycled paper. They were developed by Cheryl Karpen, of the gift book series Eat Your Peas.
Just gotta tell you cards are available in 12 versions. Four are shown below.
Just Gotta Tell You cards from Gently Spoken, Anoka, Minnesota. Click for a larger view.
 Click for a larger view.
 Click for a larger view. Click for a larger view.




Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimum orders.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order this product for your.
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