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

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blow Out your Dead Inventory and Improve Your Bottom Line!

Dead Inventory = Dead Money. 

We all make mistakes when buying inventory.  Years ago I couldn't keep Crystal Square Frames in stock...they flew out the door as fast as I could get them in and sourcing them was a real challenge.  After much thought and deliberation I opted to meet the manufacturer's minimum order quantity ("MOQ") so that I could have the stones specially produced for me.   Mind you, the MOQ required a $5000 commitment per color---it was scary, but I ordered 4 colors.   It was awesome!   Those stones sold like hotcakes and I found myself placing another large order.


Sales inexplicably flattened, and there I was....sitting with boxes and boxes of very expensive "cold" product.   I was overly attached to my inventory in those days and refused to discount the stones to move them----they had been  hard to get and might be  hard to find again.  The stones are truly magnificent--they remain my personal favorite to this day---and I didn't want to let them go for a pittance!

Unfortunately, while I was busy sticking to my guns, the internet retailers had taken over and were offering the stone for a retail price that was only 30% over my COST as a wholesale distributor of Swarovski Crystal Distributor.  Yikes.   I put them on a shelf and tried to forget about them for a while.  I eventually decided that some return on my investment was better than no return on my investment.

I got busy and got creative with merchandising: I put the stones into grab bags, turned them into necklaces and sold them to local boutiques, used them for door prizes, recast them in challenge kits, etc.  Finally, I sold the the bulk of the stock for about 1/2 of my cost.   It hurt, but the cash influx enabled me to purchase fresh inventory at a time when money was short and new inventory was needed.  It was an expensive lesson, but it was a lesson that stuck.  Life is funny that way...the painful lessons seem to be the most effective, don't they?  I sure as hell don't want to go down that road again so I am much more careful about my purchases these days.  I will often pay a bit more to purchase a smallish quantity  from a distributor, rather than dealing directly with a manufacturer in order to avoid the onerous minimum purchase requirements.  After all, dead inventory presents a bigger risk than a slightly reduced profit margin! 

I am also much more aggressive about rotating my stock.  I start marking down merchandise earlier in its life cycle---preferring the fast nickel over the slow dime.  NOTHING is allowed to sit for long.  Sitting inventory has a deleterious impact on your business:  it slows down cash flow and tells your customers that you are broke or disinterested, which will impede cash flow even more!  If you have some duds on your floor, make it your mission to get rid of 'em to make room for winners!

Re-arrange your store regularly.  How many times have you heard a customer squeal with delight over something "new" that was simply old stock that had been relocated to a more visible spot?  It happened every time I moved products around in my store.

Make something that you love, using at least some of the duds. Feature it as a class, free tutorial, or sell it as a kit.

Host a craft challenge using the duds. The copper components that I am featuring in this week's challenge are the last of a slow seller.  The product line was beautiful, and I use the materials in my own work all of the time, but it didn't sell well.

Most important .....Think outside of the box!

Saturday, May 14, 2011 is "Give Your Stuff Away for Free" day.  Seriously.  The idea is that we are major consumers and have accumulated lots of stuff that we do not use and do not GIFT IT AWAY.  The project founder,  Mike Morone, is hoping to create the world's largest recycling event, urging folks to drag "for free" items to the curb for others to enjoy. 

Why not participate in the event, but give it a crafty twist like Cynthia Deis of Ornamentea has chosen to do.  She is brilliant!  Cynthia sent out a quick email blast introducing the concept and urging her customers to bring in unwanted craft supplies.    I bet the email resonates with her certainly struck a chord with me.  I have a huge box filled with fiber that I will never use. I  feel too guilty to throw it away, so it takes up precious closet space.   The materials would be a real find for the right taker and I would love for the box to find an appreciative home so that I can reclaim my closet.  I am sure that I am not alone!   Those that give, can also take.  You can see Cynthia's upbeat, cheery newsletter here.

The Bonus:  this is a perfect opportunity to unload some of that dead inventory you have been dragging will make someone smile.  Better yet, the excitement --and extra sales generated due to the event--- will ease the sting of having to give away "perfectly good stuff."  It ain't good if it ain't selling.

It has been a busy time in my home.  My youngest is graduating from High School and my middle son just graduated from the University of Florida.  I will be turning 50 the day after I drop my daughter off at college. WAHHH!  Sigh.   I have been pouring through generations of family photographs, laughing and know the drill.  It is a time of  celebration and reflection, for sure!  

Perhaps that is why I was so delighted to come across the Dream Boxes manufactured by HHH Enterprises---they are perfect for creating wearable memories!   Designed to hold collages, dimensional items and photos, the Dream Boxes have a hinged glass door so all you need to do is open and place your favorite image, momento, or design.

They retail two for $12.99.  The company's owner, Homer Hillis, offers retailers excellent wholesale pricing.  He and his wife, Ronda, have established a solid niche offering interesting components for  mixed media and altered art.  I spent quite a bit of time perusing the site and was impressed---the product line would nicely supplement the inventory offered in the "typical" craft shop and the price point should be particularly attractive to those bead stores looking for crafty alternatives to pricey gold and silver.   Readers can get FREE SHIPPING by simply using Coupon Code crafty11 on any order over $25.
 Now for the really good part:  Homer has graciously agreed to provide 10 dream boxes for the current Crafty Throw Down!  10 lucky particpants will receive a Dream Box and the kit pictured below:
The kit includes a generous selection of copper components, only a few of which are pictured, as well as hand dyed silk ribbon, and Swarovski crystal beads in Rosaline, Light Colorado Topaz, and Sand Opal.  There are also some Swarovski pearls and squaredelle spacers....YUM!

The rules are simple!

We will draw names for the participants on Monday 5/17/2011.  The dream boxes and the kits will be mailed out by Friday 5/21.  Participants will have until June 30 to create something using the components as a jumping off point.  

Create anything.  Use any medium. 

Theme:   Change/Metamorphasis 

Send us pictures of the completed project on or before June 30 with a brief description of the techniques employed. We post the pictures and everyone OOHS and AAHS.  The pieces remains yours to keep, sell or give away.
Wanna Play?
Send me an email if you want to be entered in the drawing.  Please include your address and contact information. 

Coming next week:  The Fiber Cuff Challenge BIG REVEAL! 


  1. What a great email Pat. And just what I needed to hear. We've been rotating some stock to a sale table. But there is MORE stuff that I want to get rid of so that I have some more cash for Bead & Button (right around the corner). I'll be looking at what I can get rid of with a big sale on those items. What we don't sell...I can dump into our Unwanted Bead Bucket--customers can bring in their unwanted/unloved beads--which are then donated to our local Relay for Life kid's craft tent. Kids think all the beads are beautiful!

    You always seem to read my mind with these posts. This year is slightly better than last...but I'm not taking it for granted!!!

    Thanks for the "kick in the pants"!
    Fond du Lac, WI

  2. Michelle: Wow! Congratulations for having better numbers this year than last! I am not surprised, though---you are a talented and savvy business woman. This is certainly a tough time to be in retail, but it will result in better, stronger stores for those able to navigate the waters!