Positive Yarn

January 30, 2009

Another year, another $400 less in spending

Filed under: Business marketing — heathergooch @ 11:08 pm
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I recently came across a post that puts “the economy sucks” into better perspective. Aaron Patzer, CEO and founder of Mint.com, an online personal finance service that claims to have about 900,000 users, throws out some interesting figures based on data from his company:

“If you run a consumer business … your customers are spending $400 less each month than they were a year ago, have burned through half of their savings, and on average have taken on an additional $5k in debt.”

Yikes. So do you resign yourself to the fact that your goods and services might be relegated to the “recession concession” pile, in which customers toss their want for non-essential purchases these days, or are you the port in the storm — the stress outlet, the cheaper-than-buying-it-at-a-store gift inspiration, the “I better start selling my handiwork on the side” supplier and cheerleader?

By the time it’s all said and done, you’ll probably be all of the above. While the info is not exactly energizing, fight back with sales and promotions geared toward the customers who are shorter on cash, but long on the desire to be creative. Showcase patterns that can be done up just as nicely with second-tier products as with top-of-the-line supplies (a sale is still a sale these days, right?). Emphasize that a night spent crafting with the kids or grandkids can be cheaper and more rewarding than at the movies or the mall. Let students bring in their stash to work alongside some newly purchased materials. Dust off some older inventory and see if a “bargain bin” gets customers going.

Invest in a decent cappuccino machine and let them invest the “bucks” they might be spending across the street at their favorite coffee place back into your shop. Even if you ask for a $1 donation per cup to offset costs, it’s still a deal to them when they’ve resisted for so long not having any flavored java at all.

And good luck!


December 30, 2008

Procrastination Doesn’t Pay

Filed under: Personal — heathergooch @ 8:24 pm
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While professionally, I try to meet — and exceed — my project deadlines, my personal life is filled with the potholes of procrastination. Why didn’t my Christmas cards go out this year? Part of the reason, I must admit, is because of the time lost playing Solitaire on my husband’s iPhone this holiday season. Why is my wedding dress, circa 1996, still hanging in my closet on a wire hanger instead of being preserved in a box? My excuse has morphed over the years from not having the money to now not having the time.

The problem (or perhaps my saving grace) is that I always have remorse after the fact. For example, as I got ready for bed a couple nights ago after spending three hours on the Internet surfing really random, but somewhat interesting things, I lamented that I could have been stitching/folding laundry/paying bills/spending quality time with my family. Why those thoughts weren’t occurring to me as I clicked hither and yon hours before, I don’t know. I realize that everyone needs some down time now and then — but on the other hand, I firmly believe we only have one go-around in this world, and it’s up to each of us to make the most of our time.

So I admit that I had a chuckle this morning when my husband emailed me a link to a CNN health feature, “Putting a price on procrastination.” I encourage you to check it out in its entirety (don’t put it off!), but the gist is that this Web site will light a fire under you to accomplish a goal you’ve been slow to move on, be it losing weight, finally calling an old friend, cleaning out old inventory or whatever else is on your mind but not off your list yet.

What’s the catch? Well, if you don’t make your set deadline, you have to pay up. The site itself is free — they just make a donation to your charity of choice. And while your money could go to a charity you like, it really ups the ante if you put it toward one you don’t!

If the site is not your cup of tea (or maybe you just won’t get around to joining it), consider another point the CNN article makes: Procrastination could be costing you in and of itself. If you are not religiously setting aside money for retirement, for example, the interest you could be making today is not going to be there when you start to get serious about deposits five years from now.

Similarly, if you’re not ordering inventory in an appropriate volume because it’s “too much hassle” to change the invoice order, you’re paying that price every time — be it more frequent drops because you’re selling more or less profit margin because you’re selling less.

New Year’s resolutions rarely stick, I realize, though they have a better chance if there’s a support system or incentive in place. Have both, and you’re that much closer to scratching something major from your “to-do” list.

Who knows — you may even see me at the dry cleaner’s in 2009.

November 12, 2008

Take advantage of the economy this holiday season

Filed under: Business marketing — heathergooch @ 8:30 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

If anything good comes out of our nation’s current credit crunch, it’s that many craft enthusiasts are making it a homemade holiday this year.

This can be verified by outlets as diverse as MarketWatch and Canadian women’s magazine divine.ca, but I can also personally vouch for it after sitting through a fantastic day-long seminar yesterday hosted by the Stan Hywet Needlework Guild. Designer Joan Thomasson came up to Akron, OH, from Miromar Lakes, FL, this week to instruct dozens of eager students on three of her most popular angel designs, Liz, Beth and Elizabeth. The experience led me to consider two super-easy, but not-so-obvious ways for shop owners to make their cash registers jingle this holiday season:

1. Lessons are the gifts that keep on giving: While I’m going to be selfish and keep Elizabeth for my own Christmas tree (even though, at the rate I get to stitch, it may be Christmas 2009), I overheard many stitchers discuss how they want to give the finished ornament to a friend or relative. A trunk show of Joan’s beautiful patterns — and kits for sale on the spot — also emboldened stitchers who got their confidence levels up with the class to try making additional pieces for gifts. Kudos to Joan for being savvy enough to bring extra inventory; plus, she gave a percentage of the sales to the guild, thus building goodwill and almost guaranteeing a return performance in the future!

Another key to making kits go the distance is to add in materials for future inspiration. A friend of mine who was taken with the bracelet-making class I blogged about last week figures there’s at least enough beads in her kit to make her sister a matching bracelet. Plus, she went back to the shop recently and purchased even more beads to make for additional Christmas presents. Studio Bead probably hoped for some return sales based on the class they gave, but their late-October timing was particularly ideal: They’ll have at least a couple students popping back in with holiday present-making on their minds.

2. Give old inventory new life. This time of year we also start thinking about “out with the old, in with the new.” Take a cue from a shop owner from Middlefield who knew two of her customers were taking the Stan Hywet seminar: She gave them about six books to bring in and donate for a random drawing among the guests. So six people (myself included!) went home with an unexpected, but wonderful present.

Choosing from among the prizes, I picked Holidays in Cross Stitch, 1989: The Vanessa-Ann Collection. Would that 19-year-old edition have sold in her shop this year otherwise? Probably not, unless she showcased it alongside a finished piece that got customers to thinking about what else was inside its pages. Will I use it, and feel good about the way I received it? Absolutely. (Note to the shop owner, though: It would have been great to have seen your business card tucked inside the cover so I knew whom to thank, or perhaps a coupon/flyer to entice me to learn where your business is located and make a visit!)

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