Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Timing Is Everything!

So, I mentioned yesterday that I had started my Halloween and Christmas displays of stuff at one of the booths.  This is kind of important, because all the other retailers that shoppers frequent on a regular basis are doing the same.  They're pretty much conditioned to start looking at and picking up this stuff.  I think that it's important for resellers to get in this groove too, at least a little bit.

Even though the weather is still warm, now is not the time to stock up on patio furniture and outdoor toys.  That kind of stuff is on clearance at "regular" retailers, so customers can actually buy new for about the same price as they can get used from you.  You have to keep things like that in mind to keep from making costly mistakes.

This even extends to online sellers, as friends I know who eBay are now listing their Halloween costumes and some selected Christmas.  You have to keep up with the times.  It took me a couple of years to figure this out.  My first year, I didn't get my Xmas stuff out until December 15.  I didn't get it.  I also didn't sell a lot, except for my vintage items.  The next year, I made sure to have some new in the packaging items to sell as gift ideas, but still didn't really get it all going until December 1.  Better, but still not perfect.

Finally, I developed a routine schedule for this time of year.  Remember, most retail money is made during the last quarter of the year.  There's no reason why re-sellers can't claim a chunk of that for themselves.  Here's the way I do it (as always, your mileage may vary):

PREVIOUS DECEMBER-JANUARY:  Stock up on clearance ornaments and decorations.  Wait until they are at least 75% off.  Price and store.

FEBRUARY-AUGUST:  Hit the clearance racks for low-priced items in the packaging.  Hit the yard sales for assorted holiday decor items, but don't overdo it.  Stick to vintage and really high end stuff, if possible.  Also keep an eye out for more new in packaging items.

Don't forget the smaller holidays during this period:  Valentines, St Patrick's, Easter, Derby, July 4.  I don't put together a huge spread during these times or maintain a large backstock of stuff, but I will pull a table together.  As always, vintage is a plus!  The end of July and August also call for back to school!

EARLY SEPTEMBER:  Start with the Halloween stuff (small display), Fall themed items (all you have), and Christmas (even smaller).  Grow these small displays bit by bit over the next few weeks, adding more items and larger items each week.

LATE SEPTEMBER:  All of your Halloween and Fall stuff should be out.  Xmas should be growing, but still not huge.  Also, try to keep it away from the Halloween display to keep your space from looking too schizo.

OCTOBER:  Rock the house with a killer Halloween display!  Keep slowly growing the Xmas display.  Bring out Thanksgiving if you have it and incorporate any remaining Fall items into it.

EARLY NOVEMBER:  Hit the stores for Halloween clearance to stock and hold for next year.  Price it and store it.  Wait for it to be at least 75% off.  Don't forget to grab a few costumes.

Take down the Halloween display as close to Nov 1 as you can.  Shoppers' minds immediately turn to Thanksgiving and Christmas once November hits.  You can't afford to look dated.  All of your Fall ad Thanksgiving should be out now.  It will probably be small compared to Halloween and Christmas, but it should be prominent.

Keep bringing out more and more Christmas throughout the month, building it into a large, coherent display.

MID-NOVEMBER:  All Xmas should be out, including gift items.  Place these on a table with a sign that advertises that they are new in the package and would make great gifts at bargain prices.  Persons who sell primarily secondhand items tend to have a sales dip during the holidays. Featuring new gift-appropriate items will minimize that, but you have to promote them.

THANKSGIVING WEEK:  Your store will be closed on Thanksgiving, so make sure to stop in on Tuesday or Wednesday to make sure that you are ready for Black Friday.  Pull the Thanksgiving and Fall stuff.  It will only look out of place on Friday.  Make sure everything is out and arranged and neat.

BLACK FRIDAY-MID-DECEMBER:  Visit often to tidy and reconfigure your displays.  Be prepared to mark down some holiday items around the middle of December to minimize your leftovers.  Participate in any holiday activities your store plans.  These can only increase your sales.

CHRISTMAS WEEK:  Markdown as many items as you can in preparation for a final rush.  Keep it clean and tidy.  Try to visit a day or two before Christmas to make sure everything is fairly tidy for the day after Christmas.

Set a date in January (no later than the 10th) to get the bulk of your Christmas items out of the booth.  I always leave some vintage items and any unsold gift items, but I take down the gift item display.  Then get ready for the clearance sales and start the whole damn mess all over again!

Well, that's how I do it, anyway.  What works for you?  It may seem like a lot of work, but re-sellers are at a little bit of a disadvantage during the holidays, when everyone thinks "new" is better.  Ever since I figured all this out, I've managed to have really good Novembers and Decembers, so I know it works.  Timing is everything.

Don't forget, though, that the holidays are also supposed to be about fun, friends, and family.  Be sure to enjoy yourself a little along the way.

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