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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crafty Retail Superstars know that NICHE BRANDING will enhance profitablilty!

conventional wisdom  noun

  the generally accepted belief, opinion, judgment, or prediction about a particular matter 
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM.....hmmm.  Conventional wisdom suggests that successful retailers must embrace the notion of Shoppertainment.   Event Marketing is part of  creating an exceptional retail experience and I have blogged about it here, here and here.

However,  I know that there are lots of ways to achieve success and this week's  Crafty Retail Rock Star tells me that she not really big on marketing or shoppertainment.   Holly Hancock and her husband Bruce  have owned Beads! in Tampa, Florida for four years.  There is no shortage of competition for Holly.  Tampa is home to a large number of Crafty Retail Stores.  You will find 5 or 6 bead stores at any given time, 2 great yarn stores, several boutique fabric shops, a smattering of scrapbook stores, and the big boys: Michael's and JoAnne's.

There are plenty of retailers clamoring for the Tampa craft dollar, yet Holly certainly seems to be winning her fair share of the business.  In fact, in a year where several craft stores have closed,  Beads! is profitable; in fact, it is the sole means of support for Holly and Bruce.  When I asked her about store events and promotions she told me that the notion of Shoppertainment doesn't really cross her mind. Rather, she is focused on meeting the needs of her customers.   Her success comes without Newsletters....without Facebook....without expensive Store Promotions....without lots of Sales....without Twitter...

Wow.  No bells or whistles?   No marketing?   What is her secret?

 Holly told me that she has established a reputation as the "Go To" store for bead weaving supplies.  She buys narrow and she buys deep when it comes to that area of inventory.  She carries 850 different delicas, a full range of seed beads and other stock to delight the most discriminating weaver.  Gemstones are also a "specialty" and she has more gemstones than 3 or 4 other stores combined.  Customers know that if they go to her place, those areas will be well stocked, every single visit.   


Holly has a Discount Club that has proven very successful for her.  She offers three tiers of membership.  A $10 investment gives you the Copper Discount Card which entitles you to 5% off every single purchase for a year.  The Silver Discount Card runs $30 annually but affords you 10% off all purchases.  Finally, the $60 Gold card will knock 15% off  each sales ticket.  Simple but brilliant.  Customers choosing between several stores will certainly be inclined to go to Beads! for the extra discount, which even applies to sale items.  Holly reports that the $60 card is the most popular.

Holly told me about the Tampa Bay Beadwork Meetup Group that she had started.  The group has 226 members and small groups meet regularly at her store.  She provides the location, and will often provide a project as well, free of charge.

 Holly recently made up some beautiful necklaces in honor of a friend who had  lost her battle with Ovarian Cancer.  She hosted a little silent auction,  offering her customers the chance to bid on the jewelry, with the proceeds going to Ovacome, a charity focused on Ovarian Cancer.

While I was on the phone with Holly I heard her dog Barley bark excitedly as he recognized a customer's car as she pulled into the parking lot.  Barley actually pushed open the door and ran outside to greet the woman!  I heard her laughing as she walked in the store.  Holly made sure to let me know that not EVERY customer got that sort of treatment.  Barley is a respectful pup who knows when someone will be happy to see him and when he is better off resting under a table.   

Holly had to cut our conversation short...there was a customer in the store and she knows where her priorities is all about CUSTOMER SERVICE, after all.

Well Stocked Store.  Discount Cards.  Meet Up Group.   Charity Auction.  Trained Doggie Ambassador.  Intense Customer Focus.

Holly might not be calling it "Shoppertainment" but she is clearly getting the job done!  Way to go, Holly and Bruce!

In other News:

We have our sixteen participants for the Felted Cuff Challenge and all of the kits have been mailed out.  We were delighted to see a number of fiber gals opt in for this jewelry challenge.  Many of the beading participants have never worked with felt before so this should be fun all the way around!  The deadline is March 31...can't wait to see all of the fabulous creations!

I am still in the midst of a manic crochet-a-thon.  I am currently working on my version of the Babette Afghan.  I have yet to get proficient enough at knitting for it to become a soothing, mindless activity.  It simply requires too much concentration for me when my life is busy.  Accordingly, I am totally digging this crochet project.  Total Craft Buzz.  It allows me to drift to that wonderful Zen place, stitching effortlessly while watching American Idol and crushing on Steven Tyler.   Yum.

The other thing that has my attention is the  " brand new to me" used serger that I got on Craig's list.  The serger made it to my "gotta have list" after I became inspired by Katwise, the  artist who makes the most amazing coats from recycled clothing.  Her work is truly eye candy.  I am not sure that I could pull off the Elf Coat pictured at left, but I am determined to do up a version more suitable for middle aged me.  Toward that end, I picked up a Vogue jacket pattern, figured out how to thread the machine, and started to play.  It works!  I can't wait until the week-end when the project will get some focused attention.  Stay tuned!

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