Positive Yarn

January 14, 2009

Celebrating longetivity

Filed under: Business marketing — heathergooch @ 6:52 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I just came across this article in the Wilmette (IL) Pioneer Press. The profile of a needlepoint shop owner, who is celebrating 35 years at her store, is both comforting and inspiring. I love to see an independent shop thriving in this landscape of “for rent” signs, and love even more that the local media can celebrate it in print.

Profiles can often lead to the sharing of good business ideas, and Sally Volkert’s does not disappoint. Here are just a couple take-aways I gleaned from the article:

1. When Volkert and her late sister-in-law, Mary Gee, were running The Canvasback and raising children, they took turns watching the kids and the counter so that child care was never an issue.

2. Volkert teases that the shop has helped many women through their divorces. While I doubt that “getting you through your breakups since 1974” is on her business card, it’s a reality that many shops’ customers face, and it doesn’t hurt to be sensitive to that market segment. Maybe try holding Saturday night stitch-ins at your shop, replete with a kids’ corner where Disney movies are always on the TV. It can give customers something to look forward to besides another weekend at home. Some of the married customers might enjoy it, too! In a similar vein, I know some shops offer “wine and cheese nights” each month to build customer loyalty and attract some new people who are bored with the club scene and want to do something different and constructive. Of course, if Saturday nights are sacred, give something like the “Tuesday night singles club” a try!

3. Finally, Volkert is bridging the brick-and-mortar and online shops admirably. Her site welcomes visitors and conveys well what you might see when you open the door to her shop. Plenty of project photos and a consistent format regarding what classes are being offered when really makes me wish I lived closer! My only quibble is that the site is still showing a holiday sale that ended 12/31, but speaking from experience I know that it is no small task to stay on top of outdated pages.

Kudos to Volkert for allowing her shop to evolve with the times, and meeting customer needs. I wish her continued success.

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November 20, 2008

Just like child’s play

Filed under: Business marketing — heathergooch @ 3:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

Hey, wanna have kids?

Professionally speaking, of course. In this tight economy, it makes sense to appeal to all demographics — and where there are children, there are bound to be parents following close behind, opening their wallets to their darlings’ whim.

I know, because I am one of the wallet openers. And while my husband and I take great pains to ensure we keep our daughters from being spoiled rotten, we have certainly done our fair share of shopping for them.

We also shop — a LOT — for children’s birthday presents for the parties to which we are invited. This weekend alone, I need to buy a gift for my best friend’s daughter and another for the neighbor’s little girl who’s having a roller skating party. In fact, I’ve been to a myriad of interactive birthdays. The celebrations where a couple friends from school come over and help blow out your candles in the dining room is sooo passe. We’ve been skating, golfing, go-karting and bowling, jumped on inflatables, painted ready-to-decorate ceramics, baked cupcakes in a professional kitchen, and the list goes on.

So, why not grab a big piece of that birthday cake? Joanns does it, and so does Michaels. Host a party on otherwise-quiet Sunday afternoons, where a group of 8 to 10 kids can crochet a little purse, bead a keychain or stitch a bookmark. Even boys can get enthusiastic about it in a group setting — peer pressure can be used for good, not evil when it comes to overcoming their reservations about trying out something that seems so “girly” at face value. In fact, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts troops would appreciate a chance to spend an afternoon at your shop. Make sure birthday guests know you’re available for troop events, and make troops aware of your penchant for parties.

Kids’ creativity never ceases to amaze me, and to introduce children to the needlearts is definitely rewarding. My fourth grader has crocheted leashes for every single stuffed animal she and her sister own, and has made bracelets and necklaces for all of her friends. (I hope to eventually interest her in progressing beyond the chain stitch, but for now, she’s happy.) Both girls also took full advantage this fall of the Stan Hywet Needlework Guild’s children’s booth at the annual Ohio Mart festival, where they learned how to stitch on plastic canvas for free and took home two very cool ornaments:

OhioMart1 OhioMart2

The best part about children’s parties is if you hold them in the back room, the parents will tend to wander out front. And when they see their child really enjoying the project, it gets the wheels turning about what they can buy to sustain the interest. Try making an endcap all about kids — the Disney patterns, the brightly colored threads and yarns, the plastic needles. Show they can not only make and take, but if the next party happens to be held at home, you can supply the parents with enough activites to keep the kids occupied until the pizza arrives. In fact, just last weekend my fourth grader went to a slumber party and came home triumphantly with a new elastic necklace and a silk poinsettia wreath she made by herself (with the help of the birthday girl’s mom and her glue gun). They beat the heck out of a goody bag, because she wears the necklace nearly every day, and the wreath is pretty enough we can display Christmas after Christmas.

Similarly, the look of pride and accomplishment on my first grader’s face when she finished her Dora the Explorer “Begin to Sew” finger puppets a couple weeks ago is one I’ll never forget. These are memories I want to make again and again.

If your store has reached out to the under-10 set, be it birthday parties or otherwise, please share your experiences by commenting below.


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