Monday, December 21, 2009

Sale is a 4-letter word

Merry Monday! Now time for a meaty post.

After your first 10 minutes in retail, you start to realize there is something up with this SALE word. I call it a 4 letter word for a good reason, and I'm going to get up on my pink soap box and tell you why.

We live in a culture that is incredibly sale-obsessed and sale-saturated. In general, I am opposed to sales. "Oh, of course you would be, you're a retailer, you want money!" you might be thinking. Nope. Although, we all want and need a bit of money, no? Why I hate sales is because they are contributing to the bastardization of American retail. Sure, everyone loves a deal. But there are deals, and then there are SALES.

Sales are becoming more and more tricks to get you to buy. You are "saving". What are you saving? A so-called discount off of an imaginary inflated price. You think the big box stores are out to help you? You think THEY are taking a hit so you can get a deal? No, they are making you THINK you are getting a deal.

There are three ways that stores can price merchandise.

  1. Set a price that is in line with current market value of an item, assuring a profit for the store to maintain operation, payment of the vendor for the item they manufactured, and payment for the shipment of the item to the location. This price is fair to the consumer AND fair to the retailer. Because of this, to have a 'sale', and reduce the price means the retailer is the one taking a hit--and it is best to avoid doing that unless the item is damaged or outdated in some way.
  2. Set a price the exact same way--but give in to pressure to 'have sales', and thus cut margins down to bare bones level, jeopardizing the health of the retailer.
  3. Set a price that far, far exceeds the fair market value of an item, take a large percentage 'off' of that price, make the consumer think they have 'saved' all of that money, and the final price is closer to what the true market value of the item is.

Method #1 is the one most favored by the independent mom-and-pop single location stores. Method #3 is the one most favored by big box mass market retailers--you know who they are. Look at your Sunday circulars for a clue.

Remember that retailers set the prices for their items. When I first opened, a local shop that was around for just a few months let me know how I should do things. I should mark everything way up and then have sales. I thought that was stupid, and I still do. Why play this game with customers?

When you're running a store for a while, you start to see that some customers expect you to play the big box sale game. They don't get it that it's a brainwashing to make you think you are saving money. Instead, if you 'dont' have sales', you are a greedy expensive store, selfish and anal. Poppycock! What happened to being FAIR about pricing? They expect you to give it all away, yet they still expect to see you there so they can come in for their fix. And who pays the rent when the inventory is given away, huh?

It's not something you think about unless you own a store, or unless someone who owns a store writes a big ranting blog post on it for you to read. I was definitely bitten by that SALE bug many times in my past. I once went to a store where it was a week before Christmas, and all their Christmas was 50% off. Oh, was I excited!!! WOW! And now when I look back on it, it occurs to me that $25 was a rather high price for a Christmas tree ornament I was happy to get for $12.50. It should've been $12.50 to start with--but the allure of getting away with getting a $25 item for 50% off was too much.

And so retailers continue to mark up to mark down. Every week someone asks me about sales. What's better--an item marked $20 on sale for 75% off or the same item marked $5? I know most people don't want to think about math when they shop, but you really need to.

I was reading our online local newspaper this weekend, and read an article about upscale retailer Von Maur. I love Von Maur, it's a lovely shopping experience, and they have great stuff, and no, you don't have to be rich to shop there. The article, which you can read in full here, says...

They’re also known for carrying high-end merchandise that doesn’t go on sale. Instead, items go through a series of permanent markdowns.
“It’s always been our strategy to price fairly and not play the (sale) rollercoaster,” said Amy Davis, marketing manager for the Iowa-based chain.

That means days like Black Friday don’t play out differently in the store, which opened at its normal time and featured fresh markdowns for customers - but none of the coupon- or sale-induced shopping frenzy that co-anchors Sears, Macy’s and JCPenney generated.

“Being non-promotional and staying true to what we do has been successful for us,” Davis said. “… There’s no need to change that strategy. We think customers appreciate that. It sounds like a simple approach, but it works for us.”

Yes! Yes! Finally a major retailer comes out and says this, and talks about the 'sale rollercoaster'. This craziness has to stop. So no, I don't have 'sales', because I don't play the game. I price fairly and if something is past it's prime, it's marked down. I am not going to take a $75 lamp, mark it at $250, and then have it ON SALE for 50% off. As we said in the early '90s, "Homey don't play dat".

Monday, December 14, 2009

At long last, after 7 years of futzing around, I have the website o'my dreams for the shop! Please visit: It has been so hard for me to come up with a style and design that I liked, and figure out the whole e-commerce shebang, but I did it. I got down to business on Dec. 3rd and decided or I would be very bitter with myself. So I toiled and toiled--and completely forgot to post here, sorry, so much for my "write every day!" plans! I am so grateful for my past life in web design, it all came back to me, and I really like how it turned out!

In spite of being a frivolous girl with a frivolous shop, I like 'clean' websites, that don't have a ton of superfluous graphics (probably because of living with dial-up at home for nearly 12 years at 24kbps!) Black and white is my favorite color combination, so I decided that with some touches of frivolous pink was the way to go.

I will continually add new things to the shop, and I am happy to offer free shipping at a $75 order ALL THE TIME, to shoppers in the lower 48 states! There is still time to ship before Christmas, the cut-off date is Friday the 18th!

I am so excited, and of course, smacking myself for not doing this sooner! My computer files are filled with half-finished designs over the years. I guess it just has to be the right time for something to happen.

Just so everyone knows, the 'real' shop will be closed December 25-January 19. No, I'm not going on an exotic vacation! This is my time to organize life, organize the shop, and catch up on sleep, family, and life. I have been open after Christmas the past two years, and I'll be honest: I hate it. It's depressing. People who rail against Christmas being commercialized must have been out shopping on the 26th. It isn't about the holiday spirit anymore. Yes, you make money, but happiness in business isn't ALL about money. After a difficult time this year losing my dad (one month after Christmas in '08), I just need some time to regroup and spend with my family and appreciate MY Christmas, not the retail Christmas life!

Of course, the online shop will be open alllll the time, and we will ship on a regular schedule, so if you need something, fear not!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

No time to post?

It's almost midnight, running out of time for my daily post.

What to do??

How about a CUTE PUG PHOTO! Yeah!

Here is the lovely Miss Penelope in her festive winter turtleneck sweater! No animals were harmed during the dressing process, however, one human met up with a pug claw in a painful way. But you have to suffer to have beautiful pugs!

The turtleneck has to be rolled down or else Penny chews it. Hopefully she will outgrow that bad habit soon (as well as her other dozen or so bad habits!) so I can buy her lots and lots of sweaters, because she is the most adorable stuffed sausage in them! Nokie doesn't seem to have much of an interest in clothing, but he IS a boy.

I can't wait for Christmas, my little monkeys are going to be spoiled!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Favorites around the Shop

There are always some things around the shop that I get especially smitten with. I'll be featuring a few of them over the month!

I have carried Crabtree & Evelyn ever since I opened, and their Noel scent is truly the smell of Christmas for me. This year they came out with a new scent, Windsor Forest, and I am in love! It is the perfect Christmas tree/evergreen/woodsy Christmas smell. I have a candle open on the shelf and have to pause and sniff if it everytime I walk by. The large jar candle in the snowflake-patterned mint green glass is $29 and the reed diffuser set is $36. It's great, because even if you have a 'fake' Christmas tree, your house will smell like you spent all day searching the tree farm for the perfect fresh Balsam!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

31 Days of Christmas Blogging

I know that November is the month that you are supposed to blog every day, but I missed that--so I am going to try it this month! That's right, I have chosen the busiest month of the year to embark on a new project that involves me doing something every single day. Ha! But I will give it the old college try.

One of my resolutions for '10 (or 0-10, as my mom and I jokingly call it) is to be more of a net junkie and blog, get my online shop going, and generally associate more in the online world. After being a certified Net Goddess and having, like, 10 domain names, in the late '90's, I let all that slack off when starting the shop. I also let other things slack off, like decorating my home, exercising, and boys. I told a customer yesterday I was married to my shop, and she said it was a great relationship. It is, we never fight and I get to hen-peck it all I want.

I'm going to throw up 10 Random Facts about Me to get things rolling and then get back to this really kickin' display I am going in my glass counter!

1. I have owned a Jacuzzi for over 2 years and used it only 3 times. It's scary. It's so big and bubbly.

2. I love deep meaningful conversations and despise small talk and having to come up with something trite to say.

3. I love coffee and aspirin at this time of year.

4. Balsam firs are my favorite Christmas trees.

5. I nickname people I really like and also ones I really dislike.

6. I like it when people think I am 16, but sometimes I'm rather insulted.

7. Life is too short not to be happy, and I get really mad when people aren't happy. Ha ha!

8. My favorite charity is Pug Rescue. Any pug rescue. Pugs are truly my soul mate dogs.

9. I refuse to sell wall sconces and anything that says "Welcome Friends".

10. I love January.