Positive Yarn

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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