19 September 2009

Getting to know Candace Carr

Carr home, garden and holiday store in Blue Island, Illinois, is operated by independent retailer Candace CarrCandace Carr has been retailing since 1994, first on the south side of Chicago, then just over the border in Blue Island, Ill. What started out as a garden shop run by herself and her husband has become CARR home, garden and holiday. Carr operates the store now that her husband is involved in another business.
These days, she is doing all she can do to keep the store going. To survive the recession, she has cut back on inventory and is careful with re-orders. When she sells out of an item, that's it. Rarely does she re-order the same product. Carr doesn't keep a lot of back stock in her 2,500-square-foot store.
Her five best-selling categories are jewelry, Christmas items, bath and body lines, live plants, and clothing (accessories, scarves and socks). She shops the Chicago market and subscribes to the Giftbeat newsletter and bulletin board service to keep track of top-selling items nationally and regionally.
Carr sells live plants just twice a year. This month, she is taking orders for mums, which are delivered on Thursdays and sold on Fridays and Saturdays.
Her store is at the edge of the business district on Western Avenue. Consequently, she does not see a lot of foot traffic. She calls her store is a "destination" and she says her customer base is the repeat shopper. When a new customer comes in, Carr captures her name, address and e-mail address for marketing purposes.
Color ads in one local newspaper are effective. So are direct mail and e-mail pieces. Once a week Carr sends e-mails featuring a product or an event. The direct mail is less frequent, and typically advertises an event. Carr is vigilant about maintaining her lists. When mail is returned, she deletes or updates the address.
In August she staged an autumn open house and Halloween event with refreshments and a raffle. Shoppers rolled their own discount with a pair of dice at check out. This "shake, rattle and roll dem bones!" idea is one Carr said she learned from another retailer. In October, she'll have a witches night event.
On her website, Carr shares humorous stories about interactions with shoppers. One customer wanted a unique hostess gift—a praying mantis egg case—but decided against that for fear the eggs would hatch in her suitcase en route to her destination. Carr writes a blog, "Blue Island On $5.00 A Day." That idea started nearly two years ago when, in frustration, she challenged the board members of the (now defunct) Main Street organization, and later her fellow citizens, to spend $5 a day with a local downtown retailer in order to support independent business owners.
Lately, she has being using Twitter (follow her at carrgardens) to publicize new merchandise in her store, and events in the community at large. She is tireless in promoting Blue Island and independent retailers. Carr joined the 3/50 Project and is promoting the idea to her business neighbors. The library gives out bookmarks promoting the cause. A local hospital is also supportive of Carr's store and efforts. It has volunteered to send a cancer-screening unit to her store in conjunction with an in-store event. Carr said she needs to figure out the logistics to make that happen.
Carr has learned a lot of survival lessons in her 15 years of retailing. Like many U.S. storeowners, Carr is feeling the effects of the recession. She says she is like a shark; instead of looking back, she will only move forward.

This article first appeared on The Gift & Home Channel, a website focusing on the independent retailer. The site includes a deep library of instructional videos on topics including visual merchandising, buying, hiring and marketing.

18 September 2009

Christmas ornaments

Christmas ornaments for 2009 from Franz, snowman on skis
Franz penguin ornament
franz collection bird ornamentFranz collection's bear ornament is featured on the Gift & Home Today blog, giftandhometoday.blogspot.com

Holiday Greetings is a line of Christmas ornaments from Franz Collection. Many of the pieces in this collection are colored in clean, soft, tones of white, gray and brown. In addition to what's shown, ornaments include a Christmas tree with snow and decoration detail and a whimsical fawn.

Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums.

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

17 September 2009

Furniture for the media room

Atlantic Inc. has furniture for flat panel TVs. Tribeca model with drawers
Atlantic's City HDTV furniture in Silver and wild lime
Atlantic's TV media furniture includes the Berlin collection in cherry wood and copper
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Atlantic Inc. has introduced a new line of entertainment furnishings. The Anniversary collection comes in a wide range of colors, materials, finishes, storage options, and accessories. The company is exhibiting this week at the Las Vegas furniture market.
The furniture supports 50-inch flat panels weighing as much as 135 pounds.

Retailers: Contact the company for prices and minimums.

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

16 September 2009

Part Five: Vignettes

Christine Sisson concludes her five-part series about visual merchandising and the great retail displays she found in Portland, OR. Find links to her previous posts at the end of today's article.
With feet firmly planted in the design world, Christine is a freelance writer and public relations consultant. She blogs about style, found objects and her European adventures at christinesisson.wordpress.com. Here is her report:

Staged vignettes take the guesswork out of the shopping experience, as customers are able to visualize how they would show merchandise in their homes. Inviting displays like the ones below incorporate merchandise that can easily be mixed and matched—and that look natural, functional and pleasing. Why buy just the sofa, when that end table looks so nice next to it?

teak and wool animals for sale at Canoe, Portland, OR. Visual merchandising ideas found by Christine Sisson
Intricate teak and wool animals—more art objects than playthings—seem at home on Canoe’s simple/modern shelving unit. The message? Though they look cute and toy-like, these whimsical, handcrafted items are meant to be displayed front and center.

Hive Modern, Portland OR has great furniture vignettes. This shows a leather sofa, chairs, tables and lamps in a modern, contemporary theme. It is one of many visual merchandising ideas shown on the Gift & Home Today blog, written by Jim Carper. Guest blogger Christine Sisson
A perfectly decorated living room—complete with sofas, a console, a chair and tables--is staged in one section of Hive Modern. It offers up an aesthetic—modern minimalist—that customers can try on for size. Seeing the whole “look” may also incite indecisive shoppers to buy more than one item.

Be sure to read the other four parts of this series.
Part 1, Effective Retail Displays
Part 2, Retail 101
Part 3, Branded Displays
Part 4. Fixtures.

Trays, vases, plates

Tozai Home, a division of Two's Company, carries a wide range of decorative accessories. See the company at the 2009 autumn High Point furniture market.
decorative plates, New accessories from the Tozai division of Two's Company twoscompany.com
long-necked vases from Tozai Home
four decorative plates from tozai home, two's company, high point furniture market exhibitor, gift & home today blog

Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums.

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

15 September 2009

Permanent florals

Natural Decorations Inc. (NDI) is showing a variety of its arrangementss of manmade florals at this week's furniture market in Las Vegas.

Natural Decorations Inc., NDI, silk flowers, artificial flowers, permanent botanicals, las vegas furniture market

Retailers and designers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums.

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

14 September 2009

Sandals for 2010

Flojos, Thousand Oaks, CA, is showing the Keira and other women's sandals at the las Vegas Souvenir and Resort Gift showKeira is a 2.5 inch wedge with a leopard print base and a contrasting foot bed and strap. It is available in brown, black and white. A cupped foot bed and sculpted toes hold the foot in place and provide the wearer with all-day support. Keira is one of several new styles for 2010 from Flojos, which makes footwear in women's, children’s, and men’s styles.

Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums. Or see the company at the Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift show.
Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order this item for you.

13 September 2009

Las Vegas market starts Sept. 14

from a press release

(LAS VEGAS)—Sept. 10, 2009—This September, World Market Center Las Vegas is proud to announce the debut of fresh, new resources at Las Vegas Market including 17 new permanent tenants, 12 expanded showrooms and 300 new and returning temporary exhibitors to an already impressive roster of over 1,400 exhibitors and product lines. Additionally, over 100 permanent tenants have renewed their leases including 26 relocations.

“We are pleased with our extraordinary growth in recent showroom expansions, renewals and new exhibitors – which is especially meaningful in this environment as manufacturers are expecting new business solutions, marketing partnerships and relentless value,” said Robert Maricich, President and Chief Executive Officer of World Market Center Las Vegas. “In this incredibly challenging economic environment, it is remarkable that literally hundreds of tenants have reinforced their commitment to the bright future and innovation that World Market Center brings to the furnishings industry. Through expansions and renewals, these companies validate our value proposition and commitment to providing extraordinary opportunities to grow their businesses.”

A sampling of new showrooms debuting at September Las Vegas Market includes:

• AIDC – A-725
• Archetype Design – B-166
• Benchmaster Furniture – A-842
• Canaco Tlaquepaque / Jalisco – B-128
• Douglas Casual Living – C-1324
• Dreamfit – C-1540
• Elico, Ltd – A-423
• Ethan Allen Design Center – C-196
• Gallery Designs – A-355
• Global Allies / Universal Bedlegs – A-836
• ISPA – B-910
• Kalco Lighting – C-1005
• MB Barretto Fine Art Photography / Art From the Heart – A-142
• Midwest-CBK – C-999
• New Dimensions – B-608
• RVA Designs, LLC – B-101
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