The store itself was ok, and I mean just ok. The décor was a little outdated… (ok a lot outdated). Inventory was stuck in a bad combination of ‘80’s and ‘90’s Wire Service containers, old design tools and just a tired look that needed an update. I cleaned house, I was ruthless, I had a sidewalk sale and donated to the local thrift shop, some of it I just threw out. Mark it down was my new mantra, I got rid of anything that I might be embarrassed to send out the door. I wasn’t shy, I had a vision of the I style and look I was aiming for and half of my stockroom didn’t fit the mold. Come to think of it, there might have been some mold, the stock was so old.
I remodeled the floor space, and built a new counter. I moved fixtures and the front cooler around to open up the space and got rid of the wall that hit people as they walked in, my goal was warm and inviting. I changed the stock models, gone were the used books and doll house furniture, in came a current greeting card line, a fresh gift line or 2 and plush that was fun and up to date. And Paint!! I painted the walls and a friend painted a garden mural around the base of my front counter. I still have people who compliment it when they are in the shop. It is amazing how the right color on the walls will show off the inventory and personality of a shop and its owner.
When I went to my first gift show, I remember being over the moon about a gift line I bought. It was a commitment both financially and emotionally. It didn’t sell, first lesson in knowing your market and customer, it has to be something the customer wants. Just because I think it’s fabulous, that doesn’t translate to sales. Get over it. Some inventory works and some doesn’t. Pricing and perceived value are the keys to keeping stock moving. If it’s becoming stagnant, mark it down. You’re better off in the long run getting it out of the store at a reduced price versus keeping it at full retail and hoping someone buys it. The big boxes and department stores move it that way. You should too.
I still needed to make more changes. The problem with space is you have to fill it and I didn’t want to fill it with even more merchandise
So I cut my shop in half. Just think, less rent, less floor space, less inventory commitment. I looked at the other shops in town and decided there was a lot of duplication. Concentrate on what made Apple Creek Flowers the best florist in town, flowers. That was the beginning of improving my bottom line and the other thing I was too timid to do before …..Take Control.
Part 2 of a 6 Part Guest Blog from Elizabeth Crisp owner of Apple Creek Flowers. Stay tuned for Part two of this REAL Life Flower Success Story!