Home > Uncategorized > Time for a Re-Think

Time for a Re-Think

The situation I described here on Friday concerning Christmas catalogues in my own store opened up a much larger can of worms. The original blog post was only the first three lines. Then the other paragraphs were added to fill out the rest of the story.

Now, we’ve decided to review every single part of every department and decide what it is we want to be doing as a business. If I were to guess, this is where it’s heading after Christmas:

  • Greeting cards will be a thing of the past. At $1.00 for a single stamp, people aren’t sending cards, and younger generation customers never did. (We do have the option of going with a dollar-card format, and might do that, though we have to pick up the inventory in the U.S. at present.)
  • We will continue with music for at least another six months only because we have so much hidden inventory tied up in loyalty coupons. (By this I do not mean coupons on product, but coupons that have already been redeemed while we really don’t have anything we need because those shelves are overflowing.) (To work, we would actually need to reconcile coupons on a weekly basis; a store simply can’t afford to be out of things while waiting for a quarterly redemption.)
  • Books will move to a situation where eventually, every new release title will be a special order. Our store is filled with things which simply did not fulfill expectations and our order book is crammed with things people actually want, but things it would be unwise to carry in inventory. We’d like to stop ‘tithing’ to the publishing industry and instead give to our local church, like normal people.
  • Giftware purchasing will end, except for Abbey Press. I don’t know what their secret sauce or magic formula is, but their product moves.
  • Some individual departments will disappear. We’re already selling health books at 40% off.  We had a 30% off month in our biography section earlier this year; though I hate to get rid of all those great stories.
  • We’re done with flyers, catalogues and supplier promotions.  

On the other hand, we see growth in our remainder and overstock book and DVD market. We simply never have any problems of any consequence with the nearly ten suppliers (almost all American) we use in that genre.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 14, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing. In the past I have had a request for a larger selection of cards but am really happy I have stuck with my 12 feet. this includes my 2 feet of seasonal and 2 feet of 99 cent cards. still enough demand for that amount though I have seen a huge rise in 99 cent sales and a drop in the rest over the last year. we are down to a 2 by 8 section of CDs. mostly the newest or favorites of staff. sell through is decent but my preorders of things now range from 1-3 copies of just about everything other than WOW. My 50$- 150$ art pieces have been selling well over the last year and I have doubled my inventory in that area. I have dropped all catalogs after doing all of cooks last year and all of FDIs the year before. WAY too much inventory that there was no interest in mixed in with a few good titles. Trying a few remainder flyers this year and excited to see how that goes. I have also desided I would rather offer a week or weekend of 20-30% off store wide on INSTOCK items rather than spend the bucks to bring in new stuff that may or may not sell. I cut my calendar order in half this year. decided I would rather sell out in Dec then clearance them out in Feb at below cost. Box cards have been another big growth area for me over the last two years and I have found some great lower priced boxes to mix in with my high end dayspring. going to look into abbey press more today as we hardly carry anything from them. would love to hear what lines do really well for you as I am so tired of being stuck with high minimum item orders on gift lines that dont sell… got a whole line on at 50% off I cant sell for the life of me and thats already at below cost…

  2. October 14, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    “We’d like to stop ‘tithing’ to the publishing industry and instead give to our local church, like normal people.” — Ouch! But I get that feeling! Have shared this in the Christian, Authors, Booksellers & Publishers fb group.

  3. October 16, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    This is a risky move that might work and might backfire. A large part of running a successful store is the perception people have about your store. If they feel that what they want (including new releases from well known authors) is never there when they come, that there are no greeting cards and little to no music they will likely decide to go somewhere else so they can be sure to get what they want. The perception that you have great prices also drives people to a store. If there is never a catalogue or sale or coupon they will find this somewhere else.
    It is true that certain categories that do not do well may need to be eliminated but sometimes the reason things don’t sell is because a store doesn’t have sufficient selection or the prices are too high for gift items when there is a HomeSense just down the road. We often reduce the price of gift items to less than the normal 50% discount and therefore do not get the margin we might get. But we sell more and customers know we have a variety of things for them to consider
    We certainly do a lot of special orders. We bend over backwards to make this as painless as possible. We can usually get books within a week ordering from Ingram and give 10% off to customers because of the wait. We frequently get comments from customers on how fast their book arrived.
    I am not sure what you mean in your comments about the CD coupons. Why are you ‘out of things while waiting for a quarterly redemption’? Do you not re-order CD’s that were a coupon redemption until you redeem with Cook?
    If you go this route and focus on remainders you will likely become a discount store and maybe that is what is needed and wanted in your community.

    • October 16, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      Gwen, thanks for your comments and great advice. We currently have the perception as being both an outlet store and a full-service bookstore. To this point, we have certainly tried to anticipate orders before they happen. There are some “A” list authors that I can’t imagine not doing some conservative pre-ordering on (Yancey, Lucado, etc.) but there are other authors where we got on-board only to find no local demand. We’ve been very generous to newer authors, and we have had successes helping to launch people like Pete Wilson, Mark Batterson, etc., and we were way ahead of the curve with Kyle Idleman.

      I would never want to “broadcast” too strongly anything we’re not doing; some of this would be more subtle, more behind-the-scenes. We have enough cards to last a long time, and we can supplement through our dollar-store connections (a cash-and-carry outlet in Toronto), some nice blank cards by Akianne that we got from Anchor, sacrament observation cards from Abbey (Augsburg), etc. Occasionally CBD has sell-offs on boxed sets that were simply too fancy to begin with, and you can split those up. We have pre-printed card price-point stickers always at the ready with price points from $1.49 to $2.99. (Yes, we sometimes use CBD as a wholesale source; if you can’t beat ’em…)

      If we’ve just done a music coupon reconciliation and then quickly sell out of something (through an actual sale or sticker redemption) it is (or has been heretofore) important for us to have that item back in stock right away. If anything, our system is too efficient, we haven’t wanted to be out of anything for more than 3-4 days. But the problem with that efficiency is that the coupons languish in the bookkeeper’s top desk drawer until she can’t shut the drawer and she gives them to me, and I discover that we’re so current on everything there isn’t much for me to do with them. (And you can’t use them on new releases, only backlist, and there are often restrictions on key things like Wow, Tomlin, etc., just like decades ago you couldn’t redeem them on Petra, because free product goes out royalty-free, so there are limits.) We have just started doing a “wishlist” of things we will get with coupons but not spend money on. Either way, the replacement stock order always represents a bit of a gamble.

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