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Archive for the ‘Mailbox: 1-on-1 Advice’ Category

A shopkeeper asks:

Is there a polite way to tell our consignors or sellers that their clothes or decor items are out of date? It seems so rude and blunt.

Auntie Kate answers:

First, you have to delete (more…)

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I write a monthly column called Growing Your Business for the NARTS newsletter. One of them was about being a customer who should have gotten a thank-you note but who didn’t, and the not-so-good taste it left in my mouth.

In response to that column, Kerri asked a good question:

I have question for you Kate–how do we decide WHO to send a thank you to–whether it be a gift, a card, a gift card, etc? With an average of around 40-50 sales per day depending on the time of year, how do I decide who to write to? As you said, your purchase might not have been the biggest sale of the day, but it would still be nice to receive something. Any words of wisdom greatly appreciated–thanks!!

My thoughts on the ROI (Return On Investment) of thank-you notes follows. After all, we can’t write thank-you notes to everyone, so where will it (more…)

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Armloads of incoming consignments!

Could refining your acceptance & pricing procedures make this a less-scary sight? Click!

A question from a shopkeeper that’s pretty pertinent at this time of year:

Q:  I need to limit the number of drop off we get (just too much inventory). I am leaning towards ‘quiet hours’ and stop taking drop offs an hour before we close, and maybe no drop offs on Monday…

Here’s a pretty no-holds-barred reply. If you are easily bruised, please skip this message.

Kate says:

If consignors cannot drop off after THEIR work hours, you’ll lose those who work (and who tend to change out their wardrobes more often than those who don’t.) In many cases, the ideal “drop-off” time would be after 5pm… depending on local office business hours, distance from work to your shop, and so on.

Limiting the number of drop offs does only one thing: Limit the selection from which YOU can select the items which will sell fastest ( = you have the clientele for them)
… which gives you rapid turnover which leads to more frequent visitors/ buyers coming into the shop. Making it less convenient for consignors is not the answer.

There really is no such thing as “too much inventory”… all there is is “too much inventory that is as yet unsold.” Limiting incoming means you are limiting yourself to consignors who can fulfill YOUR needs… and I think the most experienced consignees on this group will tell you that the “best” (most salable for the most $) stuff usually comes from women who are not able/are unwilling to work their drop offs around a shop’s limited schedule.

(Side note: If there was ever a day NOT to choose as a “no drop off day“, it’s Monday. Doesn’t EVERY woman clean out her closets on Sunday? And who wants that pile of stuff cluttering up the bedroom past Monday morning?)

If your shop fills up, it’s because your turnover is too low. Try pricing so that things fly out the door… not so low as to be unprofitable to you or the consignor, but low enough that most items sell before that 20% off at 3 weeks guideline.

If drop offs are driving you crazy, try altering your handling procedures and staff who are handling the goods. Some shops actually have processing personnel who work after the shop is closed for the evening… so next morning, sales staff come in to a shop ready to be freshly stocked with recorded, tagged, rehung goods.

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Armloads of incoming consignments!An interesting approach from this consignment shop owner:

I received this near the end of July from someone who had a concern:

I had a lady who is not a consignor yet but said that she wants to become one and that she has a lot of [fill in whatever fall goods your shop could sell the heck out of.] She was very insistent on getting to bring her fall items in now. We would like to give our current consignors dibs on what floor space we have. We told her (more…)

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Kate's mailbox has lots of interesting questions at TGtbT.blogHow to present a store full of… well, LOTS of STUFF. Great question came into my mailbox! And it came another time too!

 

 

I have an odd question for you. Me and my assistant can’t seem to agree to people prefer a shop that’s neat and tidy or a Thrift Shop that is full and cluttered? Could you shed some light on the subject? –Kenneth Droneburg   Seton Family Store, Manager, http://www.setoncenterinc.org

Hi Kenneth,
I think it depends on your price level. The higher-priced your goods (and your clientele) the neater it has to be…

THAT SAID, there are some exceptions? caveats?

* Neater / tidier does NOT mean organization: “all the ashtrays here, all the salt-and-peppers there.” Neater means clean, dusted, price tags visible.
* “Crowded” is a relative term… yes, enough space so things can be picked up and put down with breakage…. but not so much that the place looks sterile and empty.
* Any price level would benefit if they’d arrange by lifestyle: all the sea shore themed things here (sea shell encrusted frame displayed on the blue painted shabby coffee table, and the lobster-crackers there too) and all the Goth things there (brocade armchair, black enamel reading lamp, blood-red goblets) and so on.
* ALL thrifts, large or small, neat or cluttered, need to have a “Treasure Trove” corner with dead-right bargains. This could be a “man-cave” of repairable electronics and bits-and-pieces, it could be a “The Other Season” section with wrong-season clothes and knick-knacks, it could be simply a clearance corner with stuff that’s priced under a certain set limit (dollar store? Quarter Store? Five-and-dime?)
… you probably have 4 corners in your store, try ’em all!

Kenneth wrote back later:

Kind of a tricky questions for you. What’s your thoughts or suggestion of keeping a second hand shop from looking too junky or messy looking. Also do you feel second hand stores should have its shelves or racks filed to where people go to treasure hunt or to were there neatly displayed and organized??

Here’s my second answer:

Not tricky, but complicated 🙂

Here’s a start: https://tgtbt.blog/2010/10/10/whats-the-difference/ and a little mini-series starting here https://tgtbt.blog/2010/08/23/the-4-steps-to-freshen-up-a-resale-shop/ which is more about your physical plant than the placement of merchandise.

Re merchandise: Of course you’ve read in the manual about colorizing clothes on hangers. It’s AMAZING how this makes the store look better.

As for goods on shelves? I am a proponent of arranging these by “story” before “use”… e.g. all the Mid-Century sitarounds rather than all the ashtrays here and the lamps there. Reason? People are treasure hunting. Seldom come in specifically for an ashtray.

Of course, there ARE things (and sometimes times) when you’d do categories, for example small appliances all in one place, and even the toasters next to other toasters… because this is an item they WOULD specifically be hunting for, and they’ll want to see your “full range” of toasters before they decide.

The times when you’d do category before color or “story”? When you’ve received LOTS, e.g. tablecloth closeouts from a new-merchandise retailer, or someone’s collection of alarm clocks. These batches are fun as end-cap displays or 2- or 4-way presentations. (And great for Facebook photos!)

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Kate Holmes, Consignment Guru, Resale Guru, Thrift ConsultantLet’s go to the mailbox! EM asked an interesting question recently:

How big a shop can one person run by themselves?

Answer: That depends. (Don’t you love answers like that?) On three things:

1. The actual square footage of the selling space of your shop. Up to 750 square feet, usually, can be adequately staffed, at least in the beginning, with a single person. That’s the size of my first shop, and just one person was usually plenty.

2. The arrangement of the space. That 750-sqare-foot (more…)

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Recently, a shopkeeper got the queasies. (She didn’t read one of my recent blog posts, did she?) She asked:

My agreement says things not picked up at the end of the period are mine. But what if someone sees their stuff in my bag sale? Is it okay for me to sell these things?

Other shopkeepers were quick to tell her yes, it was indeed fine to sell out-of-dates (ODs). But she remained unconvinced. This is what Auntie Kate would have said (more…)

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