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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The 3 R's of Retail Success can help you Navigate a Tough Economy

While many Crafty Retailers are closing the doors to look for greener pastures, others are digging in their heels in anticipation of a brighter future.  This week's Crafty Retail Rock Star knows the importance of the 3 R's of Retail Success:  Relevance, Relationships, Reevaluation.
Kelli Burns, one of the forces behind The Hole Bead Shop in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is a retail survivor.  She is also one of the kindest and most generous people in the industry.  I first met her about five years ago when she became a customer.  She quickly became a favorite of mine and now I am lucky to call her a friend.  I had a chance to speak with Kelli today about the state of the industry and she offered the following advice:

Stay Relevant!
Check out your competition.  Find a void and FILL IT.  No one in the area is offering resin or metal work?  Great!  Make it your mission to be the best in that area.  Learn everything you can about  the subject and pound it hard.  Make IT your niche.  Design classes around IT, submit designs to magazines featuring IT,  become the national expert in IT.  Kelli, together with Husband Michael and sister Tarlee, have made Lucite Flowers their "IT."  While the store is well stocked with industry basics such as seed beads, glass beads, and lamp work, it is the lucite bead collection that is the star of the show.   The team sells the loveliest lucite in the bead industry, custom dyeing many colors not offered by any other vendor.  Kelli believes that the bead stores that carry only "standard" inventory are doomed, and I tend to agree.  Today's consumer is much more savvy than she was when I owned my bead shop.  She can get on the computer, do a quick Google Shopping Search, and find out exactly where to find what she needs if she cannot find it from you.  Stay RELEVANT and keep that dollar in your store!

Reinvent Yourself!  Kelli's bead store had an interesting start.  She traded some tired Avon inventory for some tired bead inventory and suddenly she was a Crafty Retailer.  She has been in business for about six years and has Refined and Reinvented herself the entire time.  The Hole Bead started out as a traditional bead store, with classes and bead parties.  However, Lucite sales took off and the store morphed into more of a shipping station for all of the website orders, and classes and bead parties slowly disappeared.  In fact, the website currently accounts for about 75% of store sales, with the Brick and Mortar shop accounting for the remaining 25%.  Are there any retailers out there who still think that they can get by without an e-commerce companion site? 

Of course, Kelli has been dealing with the same stagnant economy as the rest of us and reports that she and her husband now travel to six bead shows per year to supplement their income.   The store provides a salary and is the main source of income for the couple, who are considering adding classes and bead parties back to the shop menu.  Nothing is static....there is a constant need to reevaluate and refine, and Kelli does it with great success.

Cultivate Relationships!  People do business with people they like, period.  We all know the importance of focusing on customer relationships, but many of us drop the ball when it comes to industry relationships.  Not Kelli!  She makes it her mission to send out generous product samples to key players in the industry every year. Magazine editors and large vendors are always on the look out for interesting components to use for customer projects and "how to" articles, so  Kelli wisely makes it easy for them to consider using Lucite! Smart gal, that Kelli. 

Kelli does not have the budget to advertise, so she has employed other methods of getting her brand noticed.  For example, she works diligently to design amazing work and works just as diligently to get it published.  She regularly submits her designs to national and international publications and often hits the coveted cover spot.   Once the magazine hits the stands, The Hole Bead Shop offers kits for sale so that consumers can easily make the project as designed.   Moreover, Kelli has become a Facebook master...her posts are always funny or informative....very "real" and never contrived.   Frankly, Kelli  keeps her name "out there" in a way that is quite charming.   

Although her work has been published more than 30 times, she possesses none of the artistic ego so prevalent with many other accomplished artists.   She is a constant source of amazement to me with her willingness to share techniques, resources, etc.    She has encouraged me to submit my own work, sending contact names and advice regarding the process.   When I was tearfully navigating oncology treatments with my four legged pal, Rosie, I returned home on many occasions to find a well timed note of encouragement from Kelli, who had recently "been there, done that" and knew just what to say.  

 Ever the promoter, Kelli has generously offered blog readers a 10% off coupon good for 24 hours only at The Hole Bead online store!  The coupon code is CRAFTY and can be used for either wholesale or retail orders, but wholesale account holders must have a brick and mortar storefront.  If you do not have a wholesale account yet, please contact Kelli to get approved prior to placing your order. 

There is a saying in marketing that "Giver's Gain" and it is certainly true of Kelli!  Her happy heart, generous spirit, and work ethic guarantee that she will continue to delight her customers for many years!

I am no stranger to Reinvention and have a little going on myself.   I am delighted to report that I am the newest member of Swarovski's Create-Your-Style Ambassador program.  It is a thrill to be working with so many talented individuals and was just the affirmation I needed as I make the transition from Mom to Empty Nester.  I am doing a great deal more teaching these days and will soon be launching a new Retail site which will feature my own line of hand dyed ribbon, merino wool top and silk yardage,  as well as a selection of Swarovski sew on embellishments and crystal yarn.  There is so much more to report, but things are still under wraps as we work out the final details.  Look for an update soon.  Such fun!


A while back we tried to get an online retail networking group off the ground.  The Ning network proved clunky and difficult and the project was abandoned.  Happily, the new Facebook "groups" function has served to breathe new life into the endeavor.  I have established a Facebook group for Crafty Retailers to share their joys, triumphs and tribulations, project ideas and promotional events in a spirit of comraderie and friendship.  After all, if the industry succeeds, we will all succeed!  Although the members names are visible, all posts are private.  If you are a crafty retailer --on line or brick and mortar--and want to participate, send me a Facebook message and a friend request, as only Facebook "friends" can be added to Facebook groups!


  1. I have also had the pleasure of knowing Kelli for a couple of years. Although we've never met in person, I adore her openness and warmth. And, boy! does she know her beading stuff! She is a wealth of information...

    Nice to see her featured here!

  2. Pat, that is the most amazing piece of writing I've ever seen! Thank you for seeing the "great" things in me. After reading this - it gave me renewed energy! You're amazing.