‘Tis the Season for Profits
Last holiday season, Laura and Jerrod Jones were too busy ringing up sales to complain about the economy. The mother-and-son team opened their first seasonal inline store, Glad Tidings in Polaris Fashion Place, a 1.5-million-square-foot center in Columbus, Ohio. The store did so well that the Joneses plan to open two or three locations this fall.
To pull off a successful season, they say they relied on proven sellers and low price points. How did they know what products were “proven sellers” when Glad Tidings was their first retail store? Laura was formerly the national sales and creative director for Root Candles, a Medina, Ohio-based candle manufacturer with retail stores. She ran five stores for Root, making a lot of contacts over the years with holiday d√©cor wholesalers. One vendor with a 10,000-SKU line became a key supplier for Glad Tidings, Jerrod says.
Laura also called upon her years of design experience as a creative director, mixing product and props to create a visually appealing store. Prior to the grand opening, the Joneses built up excitement with a creative product display in front of the store while build-out was completed in back.
“We had a realistic-looking, four-foot penguin outside,” Jerrod recalls. “People were posing for pictures with it. When the store opened, there was a line to get in. Many people bought penguins. It was like the march of the penguins.”
The store also had a range of merchandise from very inexpensive ornaments to fully decorated trees selling for $1,500, giving shoppers a lot of choices. Still, “Sixty percent of our dollar volume came from items priced below $20,” Jerrod says. “We did a tremendous volume of sales in the lower price points.” Ornaments with holiday or inspirational messages on them, priced at $1.99, were “tremendous sellers,” Jerrod says, as were tea-light logs and decorative snowmen bearing wishes of “Joy,” “Peace” or “Let it Snow!”
Decorative bricks with holiday messages also exceeded sales expectations, despite higher price tags (“Merry Christmas!” bricks fetched $59.99). “It was a big surprise to us that they did so well,” he says.
No matter what the economy, consumers are still going to shop, Jerrod adds. “We wanted anyone who came into the store to be able to buy something-and to come away feeling like they got a good deal.” By focusing on giving shoppers more bang for the buck, the store generated a lot of buzz. People were calling their friends from the store to spread the word about the great deals they’d discovered at Glad Tidings, Jerrod says.
All in all the 2008 holiday season was a pleasant and profitable surprise for Glad Tidings.