"Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business"
I have a retail store that is different from any other store in my area it looks like an old castle and is set up like a mini mall. I try and have items you can't find just anywhere all year. We are known for costumes mainly. I have a vintage area, costume area, Theme Partyware area, adult area, metaphysical area and T-shirts and lots of fun toys and other misc items. I also have a haunted room that is just for attraction purposes with a 7 foot roaring dragon and a 3' chucky like doll on blocks that jumps up and screams among many other scary props. My store is exciting to visitors still. But I live in a town of less than 100,000 people and last year the town was flooded with new chain retailers. My side of town has died literally and the traffic flow has pretty much died down of people coming in the store.The economy isn't helping either. I need too add some excitement back and have tried so many little things. Now my excitement for it it dwindling also and that can hurt a business big time...but if the cash flow isn't coming in like it use to it is hard to spend money on new ideas. Does anyone have any suggestions at all on making the excitement return without spending a lot of money in the process?
#2. "RE: Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business" In response to Reply # 1
We do a huge trick or treating for the kids. It's hard to do a costume contest being we sell them. I started thinking of a tea room again today...making teas that would relieve stress...have some soft new age type music maybe even lounge chairs and couches around. This idea has popped back in my head several times...then I talk myself out of it, because I'm not sure it would go over good.
#3. "RE: Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business" In response to Reply # 0
Sounds like you are servicing one type of clients well...you may want to concider bringing in another line of product that will bring a whole new clientel to your location...think totally out of the box and get excited about a new thing, and a new type of customer that hasn't yet been into your business... Jean email@example.com
#4. "RE: Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business" In response to Reply # 3
I just did a year of vintage and it was not successful in bringing in customers other than ones needing era costumes. I have done full party supplies and ended up clearing out all the extra plates and napkins at 90% off after people would get one or 2 items from the a line it would sit there for years. Pinatas took up way too much space and only sold good when I marked them down to where I was losing. Yet people call me for this stuff and I think maybe I should bring it back but then remember having thousands of sqft taken up with paper products that I had to clear out at 90% off and lost. People are very specific with what they need in party supplies and expect you to have everything as it comes out. So I have just decided now to do it online straight from the manufacturer. I have also tried Nascar, Toys and collectibles over the years. The key is finding an item people can't easily obtain from a big chain store. Anymore there just isn't much they can't.
#5. "RE: Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business" In response to Reply # 4
I would be interested in speaking with you regarding your business. Staying in biz for over 16 yrs is an accomplishment and means you must be doing some things right. The challenge, however, is to take an "outsiders" look at your business and figure out where improvements can be made. I do have a few questions for you-
- Is your store freestanding, what is your location?
- What is the make-up of the larger retailers you mention?
- Do you attend gift shows to review new products?
As a small biz person myself, I'd like to review the basics and help you brainstorm new strategies. If you can take away a few ideas after speaking with me, consider it a gift. If you would please email me with your location, it will help for me to review demographics and other elements about your location.
#6. "RE: Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business" In response to Reply # 5
At one point I felt like I had the Midas touch. That has all gone away. Yes my store is freestanding. It is off the main Hwy by 1 block and 1/2. It was an old strip center at one time that I had turned into a castle. I bought the property next door which was a convenince store originally and had them joined together. My store has grown through the 16 years and now has stagnated with the economy and 100's of big named retailers that moved in on the opposite side of town. We had a bad city planner to allow this to happen. Dothan, AL is a town with less than 100,000 people and 2 Wal-marts, 2 K-marts, Target,Kohl's, Burlington Coat Factory,Bed Bath & Beyond, 3 major Book Stores,plus 100's of other retail stores. We have more restaurants per capita than any other town in the USA. I don't attend gift shows...I get the catalog of the gift shows and call those that look like they have merchandise I would be interested in. I get invites to every gift show, Halloween show and Toy fair. But I just can't see spending money to get in the door of a place I will be spending more money at and the vendors are always willing to give me show specials anyway. I need excitement of some kind brought back to the store. In this economy I have noticed people spend on things that entertain them around here. The neccesities and entertainment. The neccesities are available at every turn...so my focus lies on trying to come up with something entertaining and exciting. My website is www.outonawhim.com if you want to take a look at some of the merchandise I offer. I have a picture of the store on the first page once you enter the store part.
#7. "RE: Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business" In response to Reply # 6
Although I know that you have a brick and mortar business, my first impression when visiting your website was that your business was online only. Do you have more pictures of your store you can include on your landing page?
Your focus is in a variety of areas/markets and your messages seem fragmented. Define who your target market is going to be for the next 16 years and figure out if there are other goods and services you can provide.
If you want to market to children, one example would be to enter the "bounce house" rental market. There is a bounce house provider in Dothan called Fiesta Fun Inflatables http://www.fiestafuninflatables.com. Based on their bio, they are not a full-time business. Can you partner up with this person to provide other party supplies? This goes along with your party theme, but I don't think the Party City which is only 3 miles away carries this service so you would have a competitive advantage offering something a big box store doesn't.
I brought this example up to get you to think about finding opportunities that the "big boxes" can't touch.
You have a unique store-front, the castle, but your name/brand does not recognize this. I think with a little creativity, a refined focus, and an analysis of what is missing in the area, you can re-energize your business and capitalize on your standing in the community.
I have other ideas/strategies to help market your business and my consulting rates are reasonable. Please feel free to connect with me to discuss in more detail.
#8. "RE: Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business" In response to Reply # 7
I am sure your consulting rates are very reasonable. However I posted on here thinking this was a small business forum where small businesses could openly discuss the trial and errors in their businesses and maybe help eachother out. In my world I don't get to corrosponde much with other business owners in retail. I am always open to listen to new ideas that might not have crossed my mind yet. There is a party store in Dothan that does the inflatable rentals for Parties. I am not on the rental side of the business. I want to bring excitement into the store. My mind is full of Ideas I end up pushing away after I think about all the cost just to experiment. Branding has always been an issue on my type store with people in marketing. Because my store is actually a Specialty dept store. I'm not a store at the mall that is just known specificly for 1 type item. My variety of merchandise has been what has set me apart from the chain stores and providing the variety you can't just walk into a discount dept. store and buy is my niche. The main problem is now people aren't shopping on my end on town. They hit all the new stores and realize they've spent all their money. I'm not saying I'm collapsing as a business or that I don't have customers. I just don't have as many as I use to and I felt a spark of something new and exciting would turn them back to my direction. Sometimes just writing it out and thinking out loud help to spark an idea. Where I respect your line of work and your business as a consultant. I find it hard to believe that book experience can out weigh hands on experience in the retail world. I have read several marketing books out there and found they all go with the same thoughts in mind. I for one have always written my own commercials even after the first commercial someone wrote for me. I realized no matter what I knew my store better than they did and put my heart into that 30 sec ad. I'm just looking for spark...just a little something that will make my store exciting again to people that like to spend money basicly all year long. Especially boost my Summer months when most people head to the beach. Yes...my website could use more pictures of the store I was talking with the TV station about doing some Youtubes of different sections of the store and putting them on the website. One link on the site is online only. The other link is what ships from the store. But I don't have a huge warehouse so it's impossible to put everything I carry online and have it be in stock for internet sales and store sales. My ebay store link is also internet only but locals can purchase it if they ask. It's the only way to be able to keep good customer service in the store and on the internet. Nothing worse than ordering something online and it be out of stock. I mean I personally hate that. So I try to run the store looking from the outside in as a customer would. What would make me happy as a customer. Now the question still remains What would spark me as a customer to shop at my store and make it a favorite place to shop?
#9. "RE: Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business" In response to Reply # 8
"Where I respect your line of work and your business as a consultant. I find it hard to believe that book experience can out weigh hands on experience in the retail world. I have read several marketing books out there and found they all go with the same thoughts in mind."
Don't assume that I don't have any hands-on experience in the retail industry.
The inflatable rental idea was only offered so you think about new ways of generating business. There seems to be a lot of people offering excellent ideas for you to consider, but you essentially object to them. I hope you are able to find the silver bullet that will bring more customers into your store. Keep an open mind, and best of luck to you.
#10. "RE: Putting Excitement Back Into 16 Year Old Business" In response to Reply # 9
I'm listening...It's just I have tried a lot already. Many different things. Some have worked a lot have failed. It's discussion not objections...right? The inflatable would be good if I was a children's party store or did rentals of costumes and party equipment already. But there is a store that does do that in town and they are also a small business. They have tent rentals and set ups everything you would need for a party. Plus a warehouse to store it.