How to Generate Sales in a Gift Shop
Rustic Inspirations is the name of the gift shop I used to own. The store specialized in Northwoods or Western home decor and clothing downstairs. Upstairs, we offered gardening supplies and gourmet bird feed, along with beautiful feeders and houses. I had several local artists showcased throughout the store. We closed the store when we had our second child but really enjoyed having it the short time we did. We ran it for three years and I took our first child into work with me each day. Things got more difficult once my son started walking at about 10 months old. He was quite a busy body and "rearranged" the store many times while he was there with me. Sometimes things got broken or misplaced. So, we decided it would be better for me to be at home with the kids rather than working once our second child was born. Running the store and doing all the marketing and advertising myself was a great learning experience for me. I learned many ways to promote the store and will share some of them here.
First of all, you should do some research into the type of store you want to open up. You will want to compare several other similar places and see how they are set up inside, find out how their prices compare and how they advertise. Take your time and check out many different places to get ideas. Once you have your location ready and products decided, you can begin setting up the shop in an optimal way. You will want to have pathways for people to walk through that will lead around to all areas of the store. You do not want the store to be too congested. People will not stay in a store if they feel crowded. People need to have space around different products to allow for other shoppers to pass by if they choose to take a closer look at something. Again, allow enough room around each "island" of product for people to take a closer look without feeling hurried. Any "specials" you are offering should be up near the front of the store. This will help pull in street traffic. Large, tasteful signs can draw the customers attention to any "specials" you have going on at the moment. A large "Sale" sign for the outside of the store is pretty helpful to pull customers in.
Advertising is always a good idea when you have a gift shop. It is not always cheap, though, so you really need to watch your advertising dollar. Make sure you are spending your advertising dollars wisely. You can check readership at different newspapers and listener data from local radio stations. This should help you determine where your money should be spent.
Talk to other local store owners, too, ask for some advice. Almost anyone who owns a store would love to give some good advice to a young newcomer getting into business. Getting involved in the local Chamber of Commerce is vital. They will help you get started with contact names at other local businesses. Other store owners will respect that you joined the organization immediately. I really loved the group of store owners in my small town. They were all extremely helpful. All my advertising representatives at the papers and radio stations were also very helpful. I feel lucky to have worked in a small town. It may not be quite so friendly in a large city. My experience was great, though.
Joining the Chamber of Commerce was really a good way to start. I was able to put store fliers at the Chamber. In the store fliers, I offered coupons. The people that worked at the Chamber talked about the store as "the new store this year" which helped get the sales rolling initially. When I placed advertisements in the newspaper, I also included coupons or percents off.
The other thing my store always offered was free coffee on Saturday mornings. We also usually always had some type of cookie to go with it. This was just something we built into our budget. We bought coffee from a local coffee house, and then also sent them foot traffic and sales. It is always a good thing when store owners work together. It helps everyone out, and makes the customer feel a continuity through the community. Everyone is so friendly in our town, that people just love to come here to shop. Having fliers available in each store for the other stores' sale items helps out, too. Building goodwill and a good reputation with other owners is very helpful, especially for the referrals. I hope this hub gives you a few good ideas on how to generate sales in your gift shop!