Counter/cash desk at Plaisir
There are particular times of year when retailers are especially concerned with buying stock.
A large part of running a successful retail business lies in having the right quantity, type and range of items on hand when customers want to buy them.
If a shopkeeper gets this wrong, one of three things will happen.
- If she buys more stock than there’s a demand for:
She’ll end up with boxes of left-over items she’s paid for but can’t sell.
She gets a slightly crazy look in her eye and starts saying things like “Actually, I really like own-brand corned beef. And who knew you could make a single tin of carrots last a whole week?”
- If she buys the wrong kind of stock:
It’s a similar situation. If the items she chooses are too expensive, too cheap or she otherwise picks things her customer wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, she’s left with stock she can’t shift.
She starts taking an intense interest in horoscopes, buys lottery tickets by the dozen and becomes an expert in how many times you can re-use a teabag.
- If she doesn’t buy enough stock to keep up with demand:
She’ll have empty shelves at a time when customers are desperate to buy. They get cheesed off, complain loudly then go spend their money somewhere else.
She retires to the back room with a bottle of Jack.
Let’s break this down a bit further.
Obviously, Christmas is the biggest, most financially important event of the year. It’s almost impossible to exaggerate how significant it is for indie shopkeepers.
Some will start planning their buying for the festive season in April or May.
At my shop we don’t start quite that early, but we generally aim to have a rough plan by the beginning of August and a finalised plan by late September.
Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the beginning of the new school term are other times of year when retailers try to drive sales and need appropriate stock on hand.
So what does all this mean for you?
Well, it’s something to be aware of.
If your work is closely tied to a particular event in the year you need to give shopkeepers enough time to consider your submission, decide to make an order and receive your items.
A rough rule of thumb is the bigger the shop, the earlier they’ll start planning. Smaller operations are lighter on their feet and are generally able to make decisions much faster.
Factor this into your decision about when to pitch your work to retailers.
If you make Christmas cards aim to get in touch between late May and the end of October.
If you make Valentine’s cards get in touch at the beginning of January.
Use your judgement and knowledge of how long it takes to make your product to work out when’s a good time to make contact.
Here’s the thing, though.
JUST GET IN TOUCH.
If you make cushion covers with a reindeer pattern and a lead time of six weeks, then half-way through December probably isn’t the best time to send me your submission.
I hit the egg-nog pretty hard around that time, for one thing.
Failing that, though, just pitch your work.
Don’t let worrying about it being the wrong time of year hold you back.
Clare Yuille — Indie Retail Academy
Clare Yuille is a shopkeeper, writer and retail coach for creative types who want their wholesale business to go whoooosh. Want to sell your work to indie retailers but feel overwhelmed, out of your depth or, erm…completely paralyzed by fear, doubt and self-criticism?
Clare’s blend of insider knowledge and expertise will help you simmer-the-heck-down, plot your course and experience so many biz-related epiphanies you’ll actually enjoy pitching your work to retailers. She takes away the eeeek! and replaces it with aaah.
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