Don't miss a post! Follow me by Email!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quit worrying and make Proactive Changes to Improve your business!


It only seems as if you are doing something when you're worrying.

I am a worrier and I know that I am in good company. Like you, I worry about my kids, I worry about my business, I worry about my husband and I worry about my friends. While some degree of worry is normal, unbridled worry is self destructive and gets in the way of our success. After all, if I spend my day wringing my hands and bemoaning the problem of the day, I am not taking the steps necessary to resolve the problem in the first place. Worse yet, I am expending valuable resources to stress over something that might not ever happen. What a waste of time!

The biggest challenges facing many independent craft retailers are easy to identify: a tepid economy and fierce internet competition. You have good reason to be concerned....these are scary times, after all...but worry isn't going to improve the economy or slay the internet dragon.

Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get
y
ou anywhere.

What is the Crafty Retailer to do?

Once you have identified the problem then it is time to focus on the solution. Proactive behavior will go a long way toward eliminating worry. Here are some steps that you can take RIGHT NOW to get your store on track:

BE REMARKABLE IN YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE! I had an opportunity to speak to a large number of crafters this weekend when I attended the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival. The question that I asked everyone that I could corral is:

Do you do most of your shopping on line or at a local craft store?

The answers made me cringe. Time after time I heard shoppers say that they would like to support the local store but shopped online because: (1) The owner was rude and/or (2) The brick and mortar store didn't have a good selection. The price of the goods was less of a a factor than I had expected. Although I find it hard to imagine any owner or employee being unpleasant, I know it happens because I experience it ALL OF THE TIME. Please do not let your worry impede your ability to smile and be courteous. Consumers have a plethora of choices available to them and they will be most inclined to drop their cash at the place where they are made to feel welcome.

1. Open your store five minutes early and close it five minutes late. Oftentimes owners are rushing quickly through the doors at opening time. They are frazzled from the outset and never seem to catch up. Similarly, it is off putting for your shoppers to see you packing up for the night when the shop is still open.

2. If you have customers waiting outside, OPEN THE DOORS, even if you are "not open yet." During my recent out of town trip I happened upon a beautiful yarn store that was still 20 minutes from
opening. I was ready to leave since I didn't want to be late for an appointment but my more "yarn needy" friend knocked on the door. The somewhat startled employee hesitated only a nanosecond before she graciously agreed to let us in. Her decision resulted in a quick $100 sale from us. Moreover, six more shoppers came in behind us...they spent money too and all this happened BEFORE THE STORE OPENED. Kudos to Yarn Paradise in Asheville, NC. The store was absolutely beautiful with more samples than I have even seen displayed in a small shop. The window displays were stunning and the store manager did what was necessary to make the sale!

3. Become a community hub. It is all about human interaction! You want your customer to leave the store feeling better than when she entered it. Make your store a warm and fuzzy place. This requires adequate seating, crafting space, and coffee/water at a minimum. People will not hang around if the lighting is poor and the environment is sterile. A store that has people in it is much more inviting than a store that is empty, so your need to encourage traffic extends beyond the individual sale. Be nice to your customer's children. I let visiting kids keep every bead they found on the floor. It kept them busy and allowed Mom to focus on her purchases. Consider cultivating a new customer base by offering fun and age appropriate classes. Encourage groups (such as a girl scout troop) to come in for a crafty afternoon. Do you have a favorite young customer who could attract a new customer base! Offer her a job! Barter yarn for hours in the shop!

4. Offer regular and consistent in store events to attract and keep your customer base. You don't need to spend a whole lot of cash to generate excitement! Eat.Sleep.Knit. is an online retailer in Smyrna Georgia that has done an amazing job building a community despite not having a brick and mortar presence. Forget about the HO HUM "Percent Off" sale that so many store owners rely upon. It is boring and uninspired. " Eat.Sleep.Knit" conducts a YARNATHON! They track the yardage of the yarn sold and customers are rewarded as the miles grow. This clever promotion is much more engaging than the typical discount. Another "Eat.Sleep.Knit" brainstorm: Yarn Lotto! The company includes a SCRATCH OFF CARD with each shipment. The card offers the possibility of prizes such as free yarn. You can easily find a company to do design cards for you by googling "scratch off card." Consider some other events:

Host an in store demonstration
Schedule a trunk show
Host a charity knitting event or bead for a cause.
Sponsor a blood Drive
Grab a video camera and post some "How To" Tutorials on You Tube. Send an email alert to your customers.
Offer free classes
Make every Wednesday Lollipop Wednesday
Monthly Midnight Madness event for the night owls.
Schedule a Beadathon/Knitathon and give prizes for the person who goes the longest without a break.
Monthly Pizza and Beer Night
Monthly Book Club
Beading/Knitting Buddy Divorce support group
Host a Twitter Meet Up
Offer a cash for clunker day. Offer nominal store credit for customer rejects. Donate the rejects to charity.
Hire an extra staffer for a "free repair" day...fix those beading/knitting bloopers with a smile!

5. Treat your customers like your friends. Keep things light and fun...let your personality shine through. Deb Luttrell, owner of Stitchn' Heaven, a Texas quilt store, does an incredible job with this: Check out her newsletter, Hot Flashes. A cute name for a newsletter that targets the average (read "middle aged") quilter. Crafters use crafting to find "uncomplicated joy." Give it to them!

6. Look for an opportunity to engage "cross over" Crafters. Kelly Dale, owner of
Off The Beaded Path in Forest City, NC has done an awesome job tracking trends and making sure that she responds to the needs of her customers. She always has a promotion or two running and is always gracious and lovely. Her latest venture is to add a small line of yarn to her bead store inventory. Although there are no yarn stores in town, she is not trying to become a yarn store. Rather, she is responding to the needs of her customer base. She recently sent me the following response when I asked how her business was doing:

All in all I cannot complain about the way business has been. Since the beginning of summer I have seen a 30% drop in sales this year but we are not sitting by and letting it get the best of us. We are constantly trying new promotions and getting new products in. Your Crafty Retailer Blog has been a great deal of help to us also!

One of the things I did this week to help "branch out" my business and build it is I brought in Yarn for felting and doing Bead Knitting and Bead Crochet. I have a teacher who has been teaching some classes for us in Bead Knitting and we literally had to go on a hunt for supplies. The closet yarn shop we have to our town is about 40-50 minutes away. I contacted the Brown Sheep company and one of their distributors came to the store Tuesday and we put in our first order. The Yarn should be here sometime next week and there is already a buzz from some of my customers. They are so excited about the yarn! Not only because some of them knit and crochet but because now they don't have to drive all over town looking for what they need. I was thrilled!

As soon as the rep left the store the Doubt Bug set in and I immediately started to wonder if I made the right decision and money investment. But it goes back to what you said in the blog, sometimes you have to take risks and take whats behind door #3! So, with that being said and having a night to sleep on it i am very excited to be adding the yarn to the store. And the teacher said that when the yarn comes in she will teach a knitting class and needle felt over the project with the Needle Felting materials that I got from you guys earlier in the year. So, hopefully this will be a win win situation.


.....and it will, Kelly! The benefits of going the extra mile to provide a remarkable customer experience are obvious. You will succeed where others fail...Good Job!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is your Retail Store going to survive the Recession? The choice is up to you!

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." We have all heard it a million times. Well, maybe it only seems like a million, but we have all heard it, thought it, and repeated it. It is sage advice. After all, if something is working well it makes sense to keep on course. Why is it that we have such difficulty mastering the reverse: "If it IS broken, DO fix it!"

The answer is simple: people are naturally resistant to change. In fact, we will do all sorts of ridiculous things to avoid change, even when the current state is unpleasant for us and we know that the change will relieve the discomfort. I will share a silly, some might say pathetic, personal story by way of illustration:

I have short hair. It has been short for several years and my husband has hated it since the day I cut it. I have resisted his efforts to persuade me to grow it out because (1) it is so darn easy to maintain and (2) he ain't the boss of me. Yup, short hair was working for me just fine....until I gained ten pounds. You know---that whole pear thing---I am not so crazy about the "little head/big butt" juxtaposition. Sigh.

What is a crafty human to do?

The way I see it, I have three doors open to me:

Door #1: Keep the Status Quo, except that in two years my hair will still be short and I will be even heavier.
Door #2: Lose the weight and like the hair again.
Door #3: Grow out the hair.

I will take Door #3, Monty. Yup....I have made the choice to to grow out my hair. I know myself pretty well and I have a clear understanding as to how this little drama will play out. The endeavor will take me at least two years and will require a drawer full of barrettes and an expensive assortment of hair product. I will be frustrated and hair obsessed for the entire debacle. Although I will
continue to avoid the gym and drink wine with dinner, I will persevere in my quest for long lovely locks....BECAUSE....I...AM...NOT....A...QUITTER!!! Finally....after great personal sacrifice and extreme patience on the part of my family, I will have long hair. I will hate the long hair and will pull it into a pony tail to get it out of the way. Ultimately, I will cut it and then complain about my weight. Weird, huh?

Seriously. It is embarrassing to even read this silliness! Rather than take the steps necessary to get to my ideal weight I am going to torture myself in a quest to achieve an outcome that I don't really want. I know what I need to do to knock off the poundage. Why in the world don't I simply take the steps to lose the weight? Where is a therapist when you need one?

This silly story is analogous to what I see playing out with many independent craft retailers today. So come along and join the Ghost of the Retail Present and see if you recognize yourself in the following scenario:

It has been a long, slow day. The store isn't doing well. Heck, none of the shops in the strip center are doing well. You talked to all of the other tenants last week and everyone was complaining. A customer told you that she thought your competitor might be closing because her inventory is so thin. You wonder what they are saying about you. You are starting to get a little bit scared. Your mind starts to wander during the ride home......You know that you need to up your game. You need to plan some promotional events but you don't have the budget. You should get on more of a schedule with the shop newsletter. Your favorite customer recently lost her husband and you keep forgetting to send a note. You vow to do it tonight! In fact, you have a few hours to yourself while your spouse/child/significant other is working late/at practice/out with friends. You will do some research and figure out a marketing strategy. You will discuss it with the staff in the morning. Things are going to change! You have a plan of action! Life is good! You feel better already. You open the front door filled with a sense of purpose. You are on a mission.

Yup...you a
re focused... you are strong... until [insert "life happens " scenario here....you know, the stuff we all deal with all of the time....grumpy child, unexpected company, impatient spouse, sick pet, and so on and so on]. You handle the random minutia of your life for a few hours and when you finally settle down at the computer it is 11:00. You are exhausted and spend a few unproductive minutes trying to work. Oops. You forgot to send that condolence letter. Sigh. You will try again tomorrow.

Except that tomorrow is not much different. Life really does get in the way. There really are too few hours in the day. You can't possibly "up your game"...there is simply no time to spare for research, event planning, note writing, etc. But wait a minute....you are working more hours than ever before! You are finding the time to work extra hours every week frantically doing more of the same thing that is keeping you where you are! Weird, huh? Where is a therapist when you need one?

What is a Crafty Retailer to do?


The way I see it, you have three doors open to you:

Door #1: Keep the Status Quo, except it might mean that you will slowly go out of business and drain family resources along the way.
Door #2: Make the changes that need to be made to keep the business viable.
Door #3: Decide, after great thought and contemplation, that you don't want to make the changes required for viability and close the doors. Congratulate yourself for making the decision and enjoy your life.

So, what is it gonna be? Doors #2 and #3 are scary because they require change. It is tempting to "go ostrich" and refuse to make an affirmative decision. Of course, the refusal to make a decision simply opens Door #1----the Retail Death Spiral. Take control and pick the door that will get you where you want to go! There are lots of stores that will thrive in this economy. The degree to which you find success is largely up to you! Hmmm....I guess I should lace up my shoes and head on over to the gym......


QUICK PROMOTION IDEA:

Jackie Goff of Uptown Fibers near Toledo, Ohio just told me about an awesome promotion that has met with great success in her shop. She encourages her customers to be "Busy Bees." Anyone who finishes a project within 30 days of purchasing the raw materials gets 10% off their next purchase. Customers bring in a copy of the receipt and show off the finished object. This represents one more inexpensive way to build community and establish a successful store culture. Retailers could have a lot of fun with this concept...put up a BUSY BEE Bulletin Board with pictures of the completed projects and happy owners. It is a great way to encourage folks to finish what they start (and buy what they need for the next project!)

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX:
High rent and depleted inventory stressing you out? Consider renting out a few display cases to emerging artists seeking to sell their wares. Do you own a yarn store? Offer consignment space to a talented jewelry designer or paper artist. Own a bead store? How about a crocheted jacket to showcase your necklace sample? You get to flesh out your inventory without a cash outlay and have some news to share with your customers in your next newsletter, and the emerging artists get the exposure. Don't you just love crafting a WIN-WIN?


CHALLENGE: Challenge yourself to do THREE things THIS WEEK to move your business forward. Implement a new system, streamline a process, do something different to bring about change and then tell us about it!

COMING NEXT WEEK: Some real world strategies for coping with the recession and a glimpse at some retail craft stores that are doing it well!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Got Dead Inventory? Turn that excess inventory into CASH!

The lackluster economy is daunting to many retailers. Fortunately, the crafty retailer will recognize great opportunity in the midst of the challenge. Seriously! Your areas of weakness will become more evident, which will provide you with a chance to refine and strengthen your retail business. After all, it is easy for busy store owners to coast along the sea of mediocrity when times are good. You know the drill... you put up with less than stellar employees when the cash register is jingling merrily. A weak economy pushes you to expect more from your staff...each team member must work at full capacity to justify the expense of her salary. Empty classes and workshops are not unduly painful when product sales are strong. However, you recognize a need to change when sales slow and you are paying teachers full price to conduct half empty workshops. Similarly, it is scary to realize that you have a store full of old merchandise when the economy dictates that it is more important than ever for you to be at the top of your game.

The overstock issue is insidious....You do not have a crystal ball and there is no guarantee that the merchandise you order will send your customer base into a buying frenzy. Craft inventory doesn't come with an expiration date or start to smell sour when it is past its prime. Mistakes happen. Czech glass was selling fast and you kept ordering it. You didn't clue in to the fact that sales had started to slow in that category and continued to order it at a rapid clip. Now you have more Czech glass beads than you can sell in a lifetime. You got a great deal on Swarovski crystal bicones and blew your entire bead budget on them. They were flying out the door for a while but things have changed. The internet retailers are virtually giving away the same commodity item and no one wants to pay your price. The RasberryLicious Art Yarn that had you misty eyed at the trade show has not elicited a similar reaction from your customers. Sigh.

What is the Crafty Retailer to do?


Turn a sharp eye toward Inventory Management in an effort to recapture profitability. It will take imagination and some elbow grease, but you can turn that dusty old stash into cold hard cash! The biggest mistake you can make is to hold on dead merchandise in a desperate belief that it will sell eventually, or tighten your grip out of some stubborn refusal to sell the product below a certain price point.

Get over it and GET ON WITH IT!

I often hear merchant's say that "they don't have to feed it or clothe it" to rationalize dead inventory and their refusal to unload it creatively. Please do not adopt a similar approach because dead inventory carries a very hefty price tag. It takes up valuable store real estate, prevents you from buying new stock, and screams "stale" to your customers. There is not a shopper alive who likes to go into a store that has the same merchandise week after week. It is boring and uninspiring. Crafters are creative folks, so "boring and uninspiring" marks the beginning of a store's death spiral. Don't let it happen to you.

Increase profitability by creating a system for effective Inventory Management:

Step One: Determine which inventory items are winners and losers by evaluating inventory turns. You want to have a high number of inventory turns. A product that hasn't turned in the last six months is dead inventory and should not be a staple on your shelves. How much of your existing stock has been sitting around for six months or more?

Step Two: Get rid of the product that is not moving.
Cash flow is critical and you will be amazed to see how quickly you can generate revenue if you focus on moving dead stock. Here are some ways to do it:

Use your dead stock as a loss leader.
Take a deep breath and get ready for some major price slashing. Mark down the price so significantly that it will draw customers to your shop. The product isn't moving. It hasn't moved in a very long time. You are not making any money on it. Quit smoking HOPIUM and get what you can while you still have time to bring in more "sellable" stock before the holidays. Chalk it up to a lesson learned and get it off your books.

Build a promotion around it!
The only limit is your imagination.

*Put dead stock in grab bags that are given away with every purchase over X dollars. You will encourage your customer to spend a little more to qualify for the gift with purchase and you will be liquidating stock that has become a liability.

*Put all of the dead inventory on a table...or two... or three... and have a progressive sale. Spend $10 and save 20%, spend $20 and save 30%, spend $30 and save 40% and so on all the way to 75%! Most retailers have at least a keystone mark-up so any losses will be minimal.

*Put the dead inventory in a treasure box by the register. Consumers can pick one free item from the treasure chest for every $20 that they spend.

*Make some beautiful gift baskets that include slow moving inventory as well as some inventory WINNERS. Have a sealed bid auction for the baskets. Consider donating a portion to charity to encourage participation.

Ask your vendors to consider a product return. It doesn't hurt to ask! Most vendors don't like to do it, but will consider it for a good customer. Expect some sort of a penalty and a requirement that you order a comparable dollar amount in exchange. It is an easy way to minimize your losses with little effort.

Make a trade with another retailer. Many craft store owners are part of trade associations. Use those contacts to work a barter or a trade. Cotton yarn might be dead inventory come September for a New York yarn shop, but Florida knitters purchase cotton year round. What is a liability for you might be quite attractive to a shop in another region.

Use the dead inventory in a store sample. It is well known in the retail craft community: make a sample and it will sell. Case in point: I recently designed some craft kits and I challenged myself to use only product that had a slow sell through. The product worked beautifully and the kits are selling like hotcakes....no discounts!

Offer employee incentives to move the merchandise. Identify which merchandise will be targeted that week and offer an incentive to the employee who sells the most product in that category. The incentive can be small....an extra half hour for lunch, a store credit, etc. My partner prints a list of slower moving product for the staff to review at our Monday morning staff meeting. It helps to inform staff members and to define the sales goals.

Step Three: Monitor your sales for Profitability. Small retailers sometimes confuse sales volume with profitability. I was one of 'em. I found that I was selling the heck out of a particular product line and kept ordering it, selling it and ordering more----watching my dollars grow tighter with each passing day. Hmmm. It didn't seem right and it wasn't--- a close inspection revealed that a small pricing error meant that I lost money with every sale. It wasn't significant, but I am in the business of making money, not losing it! Sigh. Some sales are better left to those retailers with deeper pockets.

Step Four: Buy Smart. You won't pick a winner every single time, but protect yourself to minimize risk. Limit your quantities and negotiate terms for returns. Your vendors are dealing with the same economic challenges facing you...now is a great time to leverage your position as a valued customer. The vendor who once had very high minimums might consider lowering them, thereby reducing your exposure. You won't know if you don't ask! Moreover, while it is important to maintain a solid stock of the basics, your customers are looking to be dazzled. Make sure that you offer enough "speciality" inventory to set you apart from the competition. Finally, avoid the "I am going to buy it at the lowest price possible" pitfall that derails many retailers. A store full of red yarn that you got for an incredible price means nothing to the customer looking for yellow! Specialty retail requires you to buy wide and buy shallow. It makes sense to pay a bit more per unit if it enables you to stock your store with a wide variety of goodies.

You are smart, capable, and talented! Think outside the box, watch your inventory numbers closely, and enjoy the ride!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Frugal Halloween Promotions will lead to SPOOKTACULAR sales!

Halloween brings out the inner child in all of us! The holiday provides a wonderful opportunity for you to give your customer a much needed break from the economic woes plaguing the nation to focus on some good old fashioned fun! Although the average American will spend $10 less on Halloween this year, consumers will still spend almost 5 Billion dollars on the holiday. You might not sell costumes or candy, but it is still possible to get your share of the Halloween pie!

What is the Crafty Retailer to do?

Lighten the mood and set the stage for some ghoulish good times! Take a few minutes this week to plan activities that will reinforce your message....after all, YOU know that you have a killer store, but is the word getting out to the community? Do you have an established following? You want to create a vibe that says: We are hip, we are fun, and we want you to play with us!" Think that you are already delivering that message? Check out the "Craft Store Horror Stories" post at Crafty Pod. Diane Gilleland put out a call for Indie Crafters to share some of their experiences with local craft stores and the floodgates opened! The comments were a real eye opener. Ouch.

The average retailer employs the same tired old "10% off the store" promotion so often that it has become little more than white noise in a world of similar promotions. The bar is so low that it will not take a heck of a lot of effort to outshine the competition. There are a plethora of low cost promotional ideas floating around to help get your creative juices flowing. Here are just a few:

1. Give out candy that affords an extra treat. We have designed a wrapper that fits over a Hershey mini candy bar. Simply shoot us an email and we will send you the template. Print up the labels and replace the Hershey label with the Halloween version. Offer a candy to your customers as they check out from the register. The Schtick: Random bars will have a special marking on the inside of the wrapper. Award a prize to the lucky one who chooses a candy bar containing the winning mark. The prize need not be elaborate or costly....a grab bag or small gift certificate will work just fine. The idea is to generate warm fuzzies and a foster sense of fun.

2. Host a Pet Costume Contest. Don't want to deal with the four legged creatures on site? No worries...accept photo entries only. Put up a photo gallery for your customers to enjoy and let them vote on the winner. "Most Pathetic," "Funniest," "Most Likely to Get Revenge Later" etc. Although I am somewhat embarrassed by the delight I get in dressing up my own animals for the holiday, I know that I am not alone. Admit it. You think it is funny, too!


3. Host a Cute Baby Costume Contest. Same Rules apply. Encourage Mom and Grandmom to send in pictures of the adorable tykes and let the customers vote on the winners.

4. Schedule a Halloween Themed Knit/Crochet/Bead/Felt Along. During the month of October we always featured a perennial favorite at the bead shop: a Frankenstein bead weaving project in Brick Stitch. The finished piece was then appliqued to a black T Shirt for an
acceptable costume substitute. I still have the pattern and am more than happy to share. Email me if you are interested in a copy. Crochet aficionados need look no further than Monster Crochet for some incredible patterns.I love the bones scarf and severed fingers....is that wrong? Many of your customers will be hosting parties to celebrate the occasion...felted eyeball coasters will add sick charm. They are quick and easy to make and you can find Regina Rioux's tutorial here. Still need some inspiration? Check out the twisted creations by Etsy's Dark Side Street Team for some wickedly goofy inspiration.

5. Here's a no brainer: Put all orange and black merchandise on sale. Ho Hum, but better than nothing. Just make sure that it is not the only promotion you do this month!

6. Turn your sidewalk into a pumpkin patch for charity! Get some pumpkins from the farmer's market and sell them to raise some money for a good cause. The pumpkins will also act as holiday decor. Prepare a press release and get the coverage you deserve!

7. Sponsor a pumpkin carving contest. Folks can bring in their pumpkins for judging, or you can actually host the carving event outside of your store. If you are going to have a live carving event, NOTIFY THE PRESS.



8.
Decorate the store and the window displays to set the tone. Are your shop windows visible from the street? It pays to put a great deal of attention there. Your windows set the mood....what message do your windows give? A well lit Halloween Window Display will have Big Impact at night. Give the cars traveling past your place a reason to be curious. Passersby will take the time to come in if you pique their interest! Of course, decorations should extend beyond the window. Put away your lovely hand displays and substitute a more gruesome plastic hand. You will find them at your local party store. Another fun option is to make your own displays, similar to the Bride of Frankenstein model featured at right. It took less than 15 minutes! I simply did a google image search, printed the picture on photo paper, glued it to some heavy cardboard and attached a cardboard "stand" to the back. Fill your shop with creepy creatures to display earrings or knitted hats! Check out the detailed tutorial here.

9. Dress for the occasion! You don't need to go full out if that is not your style, but an all black outfit topped with a witch's hat will set the tone. My Halloween uniform is a plain white tee with the word "BOO" screen printed on the front. It is easy, tasteful, and gets the job done.

10. Food, Food, Food! Whether you are serving severed finger cookies, or peanut butter eyeballs, show off your playful side! Instructables has a wealth of ideas for all seasons. There is a subscription fee, but it will pay for itself many times over. I am planning to serve the finger food pictured at left to my guests this season. Fill a punch bowl with plastic baby limbs as well as punch for maximum impact. If you prefer more healthful fair, you cannot go wrong with a watermelon brain!

11. Fill a large jar with candy corn or plastic spiders and have customers guess the number. The person whose guesstimate comes closest to the actual number in the jar wins a prize.

12. Use your newsletter to extend the fun. Include recipes and fun Halloween Factoids to engage the reader. After all, a newsletter that does nothing but try to separate your customer from her cash is not going to be as effective as a newsletter that provides helpful information. Toward that end, feel free to cut and paste my recipe for yummy peanut butter eyeballs

Candy Eyeballs (Makes about 3 dozen)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 pound of confectioner's suger
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
12 ounces white chocolate
squeeze tube icing in blue, red, black

Mix the butter and peanut butter together. Add the sugar and vanilla, mixing well. Shape the mixture into one inch balls and refrigerate for about an hour.

Melt the white chocolate using a double broiler (or the microwave). Use toothpick to dip the eyeball into the chocolate, covering all but a very small circle surrounding the toothpick. Place on wax paper to set. Use the icing to add the iris and the blood vessels.

MMM MMM Good!

Another newsletter newsbite: Oriental Trading Company is sponsoring a hilarious download. Your customers can upload photos of family members to create a "Monster Mash" family video that will get lots of giggles. It is a ton of fun and can be downloaded here.



Remember....the vitality and profitability of your store rest on your shoulders....Get out your marketing calendar and make the magic happen!