Podcast 005: Q&A ~ Crazy is a Compliment!

In the end, mastering the art of entrepreneurship is not simply about starting a business. It’s about taking chances, overcoming doubts, managing risk, dealing with chaos, cultivating employees, coping with stumbles and successes, integrating work and family, and paying it forward to ensure that the next generation can dream big as well.  And it’s realizing that all those people calling you crazy are giving you a huge compliment! ~ Linda Rottenberg from “Crazy is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging when Everyone Else Zags”

Florist working on laptop

I am so thankful to the retailers who are listening to this Podcast, and appreciate the fact that they are willing to listen even while I am learning to “find my voice” as a new Podcaster.

My desire is to bring real world inspiration and education to retailers and entrepreneurs who may be struggling with different issues in their business.

This week a listener sent an email with several questions and I am honored to try to give some feedback. Here are a few of the questions along with  my responses.  You can read this synopsis, or just listen to the podcast.

What did you include in the goodie bags for the fashion shows ?
This time we had a cute Houndstooth Bag with Pink & Black Tissue, which tied into our table decor and the Vera Bradley lead up to the new Houndstooth pattern coming in December.  Inside we had a Thymes Frazier Fir votive candle (which we can only order once per year for promotional purposes. They are FABULOUS!  We had purchased some really nice necklaces/earring sets on clearance, then we included a cute scarf in each of the bags.  We also included a $10 off $10 purchase for the store Gift Certificate. 

How do you get so many to pay and show up for the event?
This was our 4th Fashion Show… We do a Brunch in the Spring and a Gourmet Dinner/Fashion Show in the Fall.  We have sold out for every event.  I think that our customers just know that the evening (or brunch) will be very fun and packed with great value for our clients. We put on a really good show, give away LOTS of Door Prizes, talk about a lot of product, and have a great meal.  We don’t expect to make any money on selling the tickets to the event, and they get a goodie bag that is really worth something. We do send out postcard invitations to our top 1,000 clients, promote for about 8 weeks ahead on Facebook and in our Emails.  Our clients know that when we do an event, it will be over the top!
How did you get do many to join your fb page ? In 5 years I still don’t have 500 people I’ve done giveaways, ,special gifts for  followers, donated  a dollar for each new person…
We have grown our FB page one customer at a time.  Have done very few “giveaways” over the years. We work hard to build a relationship with our FB fans by giving them value such as recipes, shop a day ahead of advertised event, how to videos, etc. which I’m sure you are doing as well.  We try to think of what our customers are interested in and provide information about those things. We feature community events, tell them where we’ve seen great Christmas light displays, great restaurants we have visited, etc.  Although it seems to go in spurts, I try hard to NOT feature all Product or all store events on FB.  We take photos of shoppers having fun here in the store and post those to FB as well. They then tag themselves and it sends out to all of their friends.
How do you get such large groups to shop in your store?
We provide a really FUN experience for our shoppers…We engage in conversation with them, offer them hot or cold drinks depending on the season, always have gourmet samples for them to try and on Thursday, Friday & Saturdays, usually have a dessert for them to try.  We play a variety of lively music to keep the atmosphere fun.  We also proactively invite groups to come by planting the idea many times throughout the year..such as “Time for a Road Trip to Adrian’s!”  “Girlfriends Road Trip” “Sisters Event” etc. We talk about getting your Bible Study groups, PEO Groups, etc. to come over together. This makes a very FUN atmosphere in the store! We roll out the red carpet for them and have even served a light supper to groups that come over to Christmas shop.
Another way we get groups to come to our store, is that we offer our services as guest speakers for ladies groups in the community. We will do a short fashion show, or just show accessories in these ladies homes, churches, country club or at a restaurant.  Something new we’ve done this year is to do an Entertaining/Gourmet program for groups.  We will make 5 or 6 simple dishes in front of the group and then let everyone taste it all.  
Btw no one here in gift retail does any of the above ever except when it’s a vendor promo such as Brighton or pandora gifts
It should be pretty easy to be a stand out then!  My friend and store manager gave me a book called: “Crazy Is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags” by Linda Rottenberg for Boss’ Day this past week.  It is EXCELLENT!  It’s OK to be crazy and do things that no one else is doing, and believe me, people will tell you that what you’re doing is not possible, is too much trouble, or that they know someone who tried that and it didn’t work.  Hallelujah! Just keep trying different things until something works, then try something else.  We have failed at many things here at our store. We just get back up and try something else.

When you discuss a problem or obstacle in your podcast it would be helpful if you gave specific details about what it is and how you resolved it. Maybe we could use that info to resolve a similar problem we have
Great advice!  Thank you for bringing that to my attention.  I am still “finding my voice” and trying to see what other retailers want me to talk about.  I may just use your email here to become a podcast episode.  You have brought up several good ideas!Finally I follow a lot if fb pages to get ideas for merchandise , displays snd events. I noticed you have frequent promos using various methods of offering a 20%  discount or buy one fashion item and get one free or at 50 off. How do you maintain a good margin to cover costs?
As my father-in-law told me over 30 years ago…it’s not in how you sell, it is in how you BUY!  I completely agree!  We shop very, very, very, very hard. We attend several markets each year and believe me, we SCOUR the aisles looking for great value items. We constantly work to find specials that we can pass along to our clients. It is a never ending process and I will purchase things out of season and hold for a couple of months so that I can bring them great value. My sales reps also know that I am looking for margin building items so that we can pass along value to our customers.  Of course there are some core lines that you must have that you will take a bit of a hit on when you put the whole store on 20% off or Buy One, Get One 50% off.  However, I would defend that by saying that a store full of shoppers create an atmosphere for buying not just looking!  
I  wouldn’t be able to pay my expenses on those margins. Do you mark up to take that discount into account. My type of customer would never pay full price again if  I did store wide discount promos so  how of you deal with that kind of mentality?
Again, we shop very hard. We watch our pennies when it comes to expenses as I am sure that you do! Actually, we are known to have excellent retail prices here in the store. It goes back to how we shop.  Our retails are usually lower than other stores in our area. I would encourage you to give strategically thought out events with a discount to your clients. People love to get out and shop. When you say your customer would never pay full price again, I would disagree.  We are not putting the whole store on sale every week, BUT we do have discounts, special offers, etc. going on ALL THE TIME.  We call this CREATING CONSISTENT COMMOTION. Our customers (and honestly, us as well) don’t know whats coming next, but they know they can count on us to be having something FUN going on, and there will be SOMETHING on sale!  They continue to come in and shop.
Thank you to our listener who took the time to email with her questions and to the rest of you for joining me on this Journey to Remarkable! I love to hear from listeners of this Podcast, or readers of the Remarkable Retailer Blog and will try to respond to every email from our listeners.
Until next time…remember that “Crazy is a Compliment!” ~ Vicki Adrian

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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