Blogging, Marketing, Shop Local, Small Business, Social Media

Five last minute Mother’s Day tips for small retailers

happy-mothers-day-massage-specials

I haven’t shopped for Mother’s Day yet, and I bet I’m not alone. There’s still time! Americans are expected to spend nearly $175 on mom this year, up $10 from last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s Mother’s Day Spending Survey. The Chain Store Age article highlighting consumers’ anticipated spending habits for Mother’s Day claims department stores will be big winners. I contaend small retailers will also win big, assuming they’ve done some work to let people know what they have that mom would want. And considering I’m not likely the only one who has not shopped for mom yet, like I said, there’s still time to capture a slice of the $175 I’m supposed to spend.

Mother’s Day is the third largest retail holiday in the U.S.

  • $1.9 billion: total amount of money spent on flowers for their mothers on Mother’s Day
  • $20.7 billion: total amount of money that will be spent for mothers on Mother’s Day
  • $671 million: total amount of money spent on Mother’s Day Cards annually

Source: http://blog.bigcommerce.com/

According to the list of popular gifts for mom this year, the majority will grab a card of course. So, if you’re a shop with unique, funny, out-of-the-ordinary cards to honor mom let me know. I’ll be looking for two cards – one for mom and mom-in-law. As for how to let me know … Marketing tip for small retailers – snap a photo of your favorite Mother’s Day cards in your inventory and share it with your customers via social media, email, your website, a stand up sign outside your store or even a flyer in your window can grab attention.

Instagram small retailer shout out
Shout it out … let your customers know what you’ve got for Mom. Small retailer Instagram example, extra points for including human and show of excitement… caught my attention if feed.

The next most popular gift may be flowers, obviously — fresh or potted. If you offer anything related to flowers or gardening you can capitalize on this gift by pulling together some floral related merchandise — vases, pots, gardening tools and accessories. Display these items together, take a photo and follow Marketing tip for small retailers above.

Small retailer Mom Day gifting ideas
Gather gift ideas and show them off to your customers. After all nobody really knows what to get Mom. Good job Basketree of downtown Mt. Pleasant.
  • 66% of Americans will shop at boutiques or small retail businesses for Mother’s Day gifts
  • 84% of Americans feel that gifts from boutiques and small retail businesses are more personal and unique
  • 64% of Americans feel that gifts from boutiques or small retail businesses are better quality

Source: http://blog.bigcommerce.com/

Clothing is number three on the list of top items for Mom’s Day. If you sell women’s apparel you surely have some outfit suggestions that would make Mom look good. If possible, have someone model a few ensembles, preferably a familiar face to your customers. If not show them off on hangers or mannequins, take a photo and follow Marketing tip for small retailers above.

Mom day gifts - what's for sale
The Plate Boutique in downtown Mt. Pleasant filled their Facebook page with a countdown of gift ideas for Mom … brilliant idea.

 

Personal services are the next most popular gifts for Mom. Considering these would most likely be given in way of gift certificates, what does your gift certificate buy… and what does it look like with Mom’s name written on it? Mock up a few samples, take a photo and follow Marketing tip for small retailers above.

 

Finally, food and beverage are always on the list as the majority of consumers will treat Mom to breakfast in bed, brunch or dinner. If  you’re a restaurant or stock food or cooking items you ought to be showing off your wares to spoil Moms… and, take a photo and follow Marketing tip for small retailers above.

Keep in mind some people will wait until the last  second – even the morning of Mother’s Day to buy (not me, I swear). So one final Marketing tip for small retailers … don’t stop showing off what you’ve got for Mom’s till Mom’s Day is all the way over.

Advertisements
Blogging, facebook, happiness, Wine, Wine Tasting

First tasting generates smiles, not just due to wine

wine tasting 1

I attended the first wine tasting of Mt. Town Wine Club last night, the group I launched recently on behalf of Jim Holton, owner of Mountain Town Station in Mt. Pleasant. The gathering was small, but a big success. Every one of the 10 people attending left feeling happy … and not just from the wine! The smiles were a reflection of exceeding expectations.

Luckily my task was only to promote the event, helping encourage people to come mostly through the Facebook Group page, and other various social media channels. The details associated with ensuring the event was a smashing success were the job of Hillary Williams, and she hit it out of the park with our first event. From the informative tasting placemats, the generous pours, easy to fill out wine order forms and the outstanding appetizer spread … everything was above and beyond.

wine tasting 4

Together Hillary and I have partnered to gather a community of wine lovers, generate conversation and camaraderie, offer opportunities to come together, get to know each other and learn about and drink wine. The Facebook Group community is our chance to communicate and share interesting, fun things related to wine. These tastings are our chance to actually meet each other face-to-face, expand our knowledge and share a glass.

Last night Wine Club members gathered around a table inside Camille’s on the River with a shared love for wine. an interest in tasting some new varietals and becoming a bit more educated about wine. We introduced ourselves as we took our seats and we raised a glass, sharing a toast as the inaugural Mt. Town Wine Tasting group. Sommelier Belinda Ladouce of Fabiano Brothers walked us through the four wines and shared her wealth of knowledge about winemaking in Washington State as well as all things wine. The intimate setting allowed for lots of questions and conversation.

FullSizeRender

From the exceptional selection of wines to the incredible spread of appetizers, which paired beautifully with the wines, everyone walked away happy to be part of the inaugural Mt. Town Wine Tasting group, and looking forward to the next tasting. Here are just a few of the take aways from last night’s event (some wine related, some wine club friend related):

Wine Notes:

  • There are more than 600 wineries in Washington State, it is the nation’s second largest wine producer with 50,000 acres planted.
  • Washington has 13  American Viticultural Areas (AVA), federally designated wine grape-growing region in the United States all but one located in Eastern Washington.
  • Washington Ranks 2nd nationally in premium wine production.
  • White Riesling among most popular wine produced in Washington.

Wine Club Members Chatter:

  • Red wine lovers surprisingly liked the Riesling from Ryan Patrick Vineyards. “Who knew we could like a sweet white?” “Light … nice for summer.”
  • The grilled Halloumi cheese on top of piece of grilled biscotti, followed by taste of the Chardonnay described as “an explosion in your mouth.” (it really was yummy, my first taste of Halloumi cheese ever. I loved it.)
  • Best for last … the 2009 Red Wine from Shining Hill was definitely worth the wait. “This tops off the night.”

 wine tasting 2 wine tasting 3

Blogging, Marketing, Shop Local, Small Business

Four marketing lessons learned at a favorite local shop

IMG_1716

I spent my lunch hour in a shop in our downtown the other day because, well, I was invited. The owner, a friend & fellow blogger – Kati Mora sent out a Facebook invite for a Friday lunch tasting. I’ve been meaning to stop into her shop and this invite was the nudge I needed to do so, plus it included food. I accepted the invite, which added it to my calendar and confirmed my attendance. (Marketing note to small businesses… if you invite me/customer I’m likely to come.)

Capture plate lunch invite

I arrived at The Plate Boutique to find Kati’s husband donning an apron behind the counter. He’s an even more familiar face, thus prompting me to stay longer than intended. As we chatted between customers I shopped and snapped photos of interesting, unique items throughout the store. Interesting and unique is truly what separates small shops like The Plate Boutique apart from the big box retailers down the road. On every shelf, down every aisle in Kati’s shop is something I cannot find anywhere else in town. And that’s precisely why I shop stores like The Plate Boutique. (Marketing note to small businesses… you are NOT in competition with big box stores, You offer unique, they sell everyday.)

I spent my lunch hour looking over the vast assortment of gadgets, accessories and cooking items that will make my life easier in the kitchen. Included below is a collection of the items that caught my eye. I think you’ll agree each qualifies as unique and interesting, and things you will not find at the big box stores.

I did come away with a couple things I just couldn’t do without. One for my hubby and one that would make my life easier when it comes to getting my wine glasses spot-free (no easy task with the water in our town)

FullSizeRender (3)
Cheese Markers for hubby, replacing his handwritten slips of paper on next meat/cheese tray. Polishing Cloths for me to tackle those pesky water spots on my fine crystal wine glasses.

At the register I filled out a frequent shopper card. A standard for most stores these days, serving as an incentive for shoppers and a way for retailers to gather customer information. Rather than a lengthy form and another plastic card for me to carry around and have to dig out of my purse, Kati opted to keep it simple. I filled out a printed index card with my contact info, they filled in amount of purchases, after sixth purchase I receive reward. They keep card on file and purchases added upon visits to store. Easy for me, the customer and the shop owner. (Marketing note to small businesses… create a simple incentive program to keep customers coming back, and collects contact information.)

In addition to the unique and interesting assortment of products throughout the store, one of the coolest things offered is right as you enter, and it’s a shining example of what small shops can do that the big boxes can’t. Kati hosts a cookbook swap, encouraging customers to take a cookbook from the collection and leave one of theirs in exchange. A very cool idea, and a great way to drive repeat customer traffic. It reminds me of the local library – when you’re done with book return it and come get another. (Marketing note to small businesses… what can you offer exclusively to your customers to keep them coming back).

IMG_1711

Small retailers like The Plate Boutique are the backbone of communities today and the true spirit of our country. As a small business owner myself, I have a heart for small shops and tremendous respect for those with the courage, confidence and passion for opening their own retail store. Applause to Kati Mora, the others small shops in our downtown and the many scattered throughout other communities. I plan to stop in, say hi, check out your unique collection of merchandise … and I promise to share what I find here on my blog. Stay tuned for future ventures into small shops throughout my community and beyond.

IMG_1713 IMG_1714 FullSizeRender (2) FullSizeRender IMG_1710 (2)

Blogging, learning

Three lessons learned from my favorite tree falling

before - last view

I’m not necessarily the tree-hugging type. Although these days my husband and a few family members might disagree. Having to cut down a big beautiful tree in the front yard of our cottage touched me in ways I didn’t anticipate.

A huge limb randomly fell from this beloved tree the other evening. Sitting on the patio, we heard a strange crackling sound. We turned our heads to watch a big branch break away and fall onto our neighbor’s roof and yard.The sound was startling, the falling limb frightening and the experience one I won’t soon forget. Thankfully no injuries to report, however it has left a very obvious void in our yard.

limb down limb decay

Viewing the decay causing the limb to fall, it was apparent the tree had to go. The process was not going to be simple. The Box Elder tree was enormous and tucked tightly between cottages in our yard. A crane was required for the job. The four-man tree removal crew included a guy who’s job involved riding up with the crane into the tree and repelling to cut limbs for the crane to lift onto trailers. It’s a skill the young guy in his 20’s learned from the 70-year-old owner of the company, who was up in a tree himself repelling and cutting within the last year. Owning the tree company for 40 years, John has climbed lots of trees and cut many limbs. Only a few years ago he began employing the help of a crane operator to expedite the removal process.

crane truck tree man guy climbing tree guy with ropes in tree guy in tree 2

 

Cutting down and removing the entire tree, which they estimated to be more than 60 years old after counting the rings in the base, was an amazing process to watch.  I never realized such equipment existed to do these kind of jobs and the type of skills and training required. I have tremendous respect for the crew involved in each part of the removal process, from limb cutting, log loading to stump grinding.

stump counting lines

As the “family photographer” I recorded the entire procedure and shared photos with my husband while he was stuck working. Included below is a collection of photos of the tree removal experience.

tree & crane

Along the way, I took away a few lessons that I never expected. Here’s a rundown of what I learned from the loss of our favorite tree.

  • Embrace change … of every shape & size. I consider myself a change agent. I typically welcome change. However, when it involves removal of a tree, particularly a tree that has a very long history, that tends to strike a different nerve. Following the tree removal, I admit to appreciating the additional sunshine in our yard. I’m coming around and getting used to it being gone. .
  •  Don’t get too attached … probably easier said than done. In the case of our beloved tree, it served as our umbrella over our fire pit and shaded our yard. However, the sunshine is nice and we shall buy big umbrellas to keep on hand,
  • Appreciate good service … the tree company we hired was a small local guy, referred and highly recommended by a neighbor. Good idea and good job done! With 40 years experience, it’s easy to see how this 70-year-old has built a solid business cutting down trees. His knowledge, experience and care for doing the job all the way to the end is clearly why his business has thrived for all these years. And he has hired and mentored an enthusiastic crew.
  • Crane operating is great business … in watching the entire process it hit me — the guy who owns/runs the crane has a pretty good thing going on. He was young, maybe early 30s, had purchased the crane (a very big investment), was trained in operating it and subcontracts himself and his crane out for hire. Not a bad gig, considering John our tree cutting owner says he’s given this crane operator about $68,000 in business in the last year, and he’s only one of the crane operator’s clients. Heads up to all the young guys (or gals) out there wondering what major to choose in college.

upside down tree in air tree stump cut tree man tree limb guy tree in air tree in air over Barretts tree decay tree coming down stump rising stump in truck log in air limb on crane limb in air limb cut last branch cut stump cut broken limb

Blogging, digital photos, facebook, family, photo editing, photography, Social Media

4 tips from the self-dubbed family photographer

I recently uploadeda photo album to my Facebook page highlighting the many smiles and laughter shared during our annual summer family gathering. The album includes photos snapped by me and my father-in-law throughout the holiday weekend. As the kids whip out their iPhones to capture moments, we reach for our 35 mm digital cameras (mine a Canon Rebel, dad’s a Canon Sureshot). The younger generation could view us as outdated, but instead they greet us with happy grins when asking them to smile and pose.

FB album

Granted smartphones offer an easy option to photography these days. And the many editing apps available allow for a whole new level of creativity in online photography.  I also whip out my iPhone 5 often to shoot, upload, edit and post to social media. But there’s still no replacement for a photo taken with a real camera.

My love for cameras and photography is something I inherited from my dad, who in turn got it from his dad. Grandpa spent his career surrounded by the latest photography equipment of the day as a camera buyer for the former J.L. Hudson Company. We grew up lining up and squeezing together for group photos at every event and blinded by the bright lights of the old movie cameras while blowing out birthday candles.We moaned and groaned in counting to three and saying cheese for what seemed like a million times at every family gathering. However, to this day the photo albums filled with these pictures are the favorite things when visiting my parent’s house.

Following our family get-togethers my dad was known for dashing off to Walmart to get his photos developed and quickly placed in an album to show off the latest activity. He even had a numbering system where the back of each photo was marked so the matching negative could be identified, in case someone wanted copies.

Nowadays those photo albums lined up on my parent’s fireplace hearth have been replaced with digital photo albums posted online. I feel as though I’ve stepped into my dad’s role as our family’s chief photographer. I’m armed with my camera and snapping pictures at our many life events and activities and then hurrying to upload, edit, post and share them.

Luckily the task no longer requires a trip to Walmart for processing. As the family photographer there are a few tricks I’ve learned about capturing moments, editing photos and posting and sharing. Perhaps these four tips will be helpful to other family photographers. If you play the role of photographer in your family, I’d love to hear any tricks you’ve learned.

4 family photographer tips

  • Capture smiles in action: perhaps it’s a result of all those years lining up, squeezing together and saying cheese, but I tend to avoid forced group photos. I opt for a bit more spontaneity and go for a stop in the midst of action shots.

IMG_2921

  • Less is usually more:  I find photos with two to three people turn out better and are preferred over photos with larger groups. You can just plain see a couple people’s faces, expressions and emotions better when there’s just a few in the photo.

GPA camera 017

 

  • People are preferred: I use the term “peoplize” in working clients to create content. My point … include people always (or as often as possible). People prefer seeing people in photos. Test this theory yourself, look at a collection of photos and see which ones your eye is drawn to. I’m betting on the people pics.

 

  • A little editing goes a long way: I recently discovered picmonkey.com and I run every photo through the easy-to-use online editing suit before posting. Regardless of how perfect the shot, I’ve found a dash of color and a pinch sharpening can enhance any photo. If you haven’t tried a photo editor, picmonkey.com is free and very user-friendly. If you’re a Mac user, it compares to iPhoto. Can’t say enough about photo editing.
Blogging, Habits, happiness, learning, Personal growth, Resolutions

5 habits for personal happiness every day

With all of content related to being happy hitting my radar lately, I’m feeling prompted to write about happiness. I’ve come across a few bloggers who’ve selected a “word for the year.” Perhaps happiness should be mine.

I shared a post on my Facebook page recently — 7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People — and it caused me to consider my happiness habits. Looking at the list, I’m not in bad shape. Admittedly, I need to work on a few listed such as no. 4 exercise and no. 7 ignoring my itches. I tend to be a half-full person, and I’m told it’s contagious. I’ve learned you need to guard your happiness and never allow it to be determined by external sources. So, I guess I’m good on no. 3 .

The next article to hit my news feed was this one  from Fast Company6 Simple Habits to Keep You Consistently Happy Every day. While I am an optimist, being consistently happy every day isn’t always the case. However, I like the sound of it. In reviewing writer and founder/CEO of Buffer Joel Gascoigne‘s list of habits, I related to some and came to the conclusion that maybe daily happiness is possible.

Happy habits

In order for me to experience happiness everyday, I decided I ought make my own list of habits to help me get there. Here’s my personal list of happiness habits. It may not be possible to do each of these on a daily basis, but I’m confident practicing a few of them every day can make for more happiness.

  • Share yourself. I learned a number of years ago that my skills are gifts, and these gifts were given for a purpose. Sharing what I know and have learned over the years to help others grow their business or navigate life is the right thing to do. And when you’re doing the right thing, that makes you happy. At times I even get goose bumps, which confirms that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. That always makes me smile.
  • Smile. Smiling represents happiness and smiles are contagious. Flash a smile at someone and you’re sure to get one in return. And once you’ve received a smile from someone else, just try to not smile back. I wrote a post about smiling a few years back and just like Buddy the Elf, smiling is still my favorite.

Happy people

  • Surround yourself with happy people. I believe “you are the people you surround yourself with.” Like it or not we are influenced by the company we keep. Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. So choose carefully. And be willing to weed out the Debbie Downers in your life. Kicking off this year I shared a post vowing to surround myself with more creative people in 2014. Happy to report I’ve been making strides on this New Year’s goal. Creative people are also happy people!

“Your mind may be the closest thing to the Holy Grail of longevity and happiness. Education has been widely documented by researchers as the single variable tied most directly to improved health and longevity. And when people are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, their well-being and happiness can blossom.”

  • Learn something new. Your mind is the Holy Grail of longevity and happiness, according to the U.S. News ebook, How to Live to 100, “When people are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, their well-being and happiness can blossom.”  I find I’m in a happy place when I’m engrossed in learning, which of course doesn’t just happen in classroom these days rather online, in a book, an article or best… in a conversation.
  • Pray. Forgetting to practice all of the above can potentially impact the happiness of a day. Neglecting this one is guaranteed to diminish the possibility of any true happiness. I try to start every day by handing the reins over to the one who’s truly in charge. I tend to encounter the greatest challenges when I try to takeover the reins. Keeping myself clearly focused on my “true north” leads to happiness. It’s not always the path I’d planned, but it gets me there if I continue to follow.

Do you have habits that lead to your happiness every day? I’d love to hear them and possibly add them to my list.

happy people shine

Blogging

In order to make it, you have to be really ambitious. Talent without ambition is nothing; you have to drive yourself to make things. And it’s the same thing with creativity: if you have a lot of ambition without creativity, you might not go anywhere.

Via Cartoon Network’s VP of Creative Design Jacob Escobedo (via creativesomething)

Exactly – ambition without creativity = nothin