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Bargain Shopping in a Dollar-Weary Environment

Canadian and U.S. dollar coinsLast night on CBC National News, we learned that projections are for the Canadian dollar’s free-fall against its U.S. counterpart to continue for some time. This means rising prices on books, especially. What can a Canadian Christian retailer do to continue to offer good value to their customer? Here are some suggestions:

  • Books with pre-printed Canadian pricing. Generally speaking, there are still some great deals to be had within the families of publishers owned by major U.S. corporations such as Simon & Schuster (Cook), Waterbrook (Augsburg), FaithWords (Word Alive), Love Inspired (Harlequin) and of course Nelson/Zondervan (HarperCollins) which has a mixture of pre-printed Canadian prices, and some which float with the dollar, but are usually lower than the current exchange rate.
  • Flyer specials. Foundation has introduced their 2016 marketing program this week. You can opt in on flyers and thereby purchase stock not only for the sale period but have inventory on hand beyond that date for additional margin.
  • Remainders. They’re getting harder and harder to find, but even for those of us who can’t buy skids, there are still some excellent deals if you’re quick.
  • Music. Throughout the last six months of price increases, music prices have so far stayed constant.
  • Budget Music and Video. A category onto itself, budget ($8.99 and under) titles are always out there. Download the Excel file from the Cook B2B website and then re-sort the entire list by price.
  • Ominbus. Yeah, they’re heavy books to hold, but 3-in-1 titles represent a great deal for your customers, especially in fiction; though Regal Books have some non-fiction 3-in-1 titles as well.
  • Boxed Sets. These have been subject to price increases, but with some publishers — not all — there is some value in splitting up the sets.
  • Your own inventory. Based on the lower price you paid, you can reduce your own stock that isn’t moving, especially if the return window has already passed. Speaking from the perspective of an outlet store, we are also our own remainder source.
  • Asking other dealers. One store’s buying disaster may be a blessing in your market. We get titles all the time that should have worked but didn’t, even though we know they have done well nationally. Make a list and email it to store owners within driving distance. Ask them for their list. Buy, sell, or just horse-trade product retail-dollar for retail-dollar with no money changing hands.
  • That one title you want to feature. Even if it’s not in an upcoming flyer, focus on a single title you think you can do well with, and then ask your supplier for extra points if you buy a dozen or more and agree to promote the title in store newsletters and social media.
  • Local authors and musicians. All this summer our #1 and #3 titles were from authors unique to our geographic area. One deal was direct with the author, and the other was made possible with some help from David C. Cook.
  • SuperSavers. This one is complicated because sometimes the SuperSaver (yellow-stickered) pricing available in the U.S. isn’t available here, and getting the deal involves the gray-market process called buying around. So technically, you never read this one here!
  • Summer fiction. This is a term we use in our store for fiction series (i.e. Colleen Coble, et al) that get re-issued (usually in summer) at promotional pricing. Some of this seems to happening all year now, and Zondervan and Nelson are re-introducing mass-market paperbacks. 
  • Giftware. Much of what some gift companies are offering was acquired offshore and/or paid for in the summer. Prices are still good value, though you can check by searching UPC codes online and comparing to the U.S.

That’s just a few ideas. Can you think of any I’ve missed?

If you have an email address for other stores you think would benefit from this, email them the link to this article: http://wp.me/pjjot-2gb

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