January Newsletter

Yeah, it is a little early.  I’m (Dan) up late tonight and thought I’d get the newsletter done.  First, we had good sales today, not great, but good.  What was remarkable however were the customer comments…and some of their other reactions to the store.

We had one person so impressed that she told her in-laws who are visiting from near Chicago about “Spirit” and later in the day they came in and enjoyed themselves.  Shortly after, we had a nice visit with a gentleman who used to do an Elvis act…Debi and I enjoyed his tales of persons he’s met, experiences he has had.  He was very happy with the store and plans to be a regular.  Towards the end of the day, another customer who had been in earlier returned with her Mom!  Between these visits, the usual good comments were heard.  Our community of dealers should be proud of their displays and the stunning visuals you are presenting to our customers!  Folks, you are making something special here.  And be certain…because roughly 3/4ths of the store is yours..it IS you who have created most of this place!

Sales for the month, on December 19th, passed November to be our best month yet!  Since then, with six more days of being open we’ve just been building on the numbers.  We will reach close to three times rent for the month.  We’re at 2.5 times rent FOR ALL OF DECEMBER with three days left.

Debi and I enjoyed the Christmas displays brought in, and we thank the folks who went so far as to bring treats.  I did leave some for the customers…I really did!

Some folks are probably wondering where the vaunted “Web Store” is…we have it ready to replace the web page anytime, even have a few items pictured and displayed.  But we want to open it up with a good number of items so that folks visiting won’t be turned off by limited choices.  We’ve kind of been sidetracked, which I’ll write about in a bit.  When we get it up and running we will list only or own products for a bit to work any bugs out of the design…then we will open it up to everyone.  There will be a fee of some sort…and we’re going to limit the items to a certain price range, and with consideration for ease of shipping.  But, it is coming.

Now, why we were distracted.  Quite by accident Debi and I located a small antique store and through a short working relationship with the owner…we ended up being offered a price for the contents of the store!  We felt the offer was excellent and accepted.  We now have thousands of items, most of very good quality, which we will be bringing in to “Spirit” starting right away in January.  To those who may be concerned we are moving away from the mall idea…I assure you that nothing will change regarding your display spaces.  Future expansions for our dealers MAY be delayed while Debi and I figure out how much room we need for these new items.  But, we’d already called a halt to new dealers due to the limited space…and suspending expansion opportunities will be temporary.

In fact, as many folks know, Debi and I have flirted with opening a third room for quite sometime.  Because “Derby Street Antiques and General Store” plans to open soon..we had decided to wait until they have an opportunity to fill up a bit before we expand.  Now, with this purchase, we’ve gone ahead and arranged to lease the third room!  We will use it to display our products…keeping the original two rooms as a mall.  There are positives to this for everyone, just a couple real quick.

First, by selling our own products we can keep the price of display space rentals low.  Frankly, we HAVE to sell our own products to make the store viable.  That, or we drastically raise rent and expand to an amount of dealers we don’t feel we can serve at the level we wish to offer.

Second, many of the newer items are furniture pieces.  Everyone has done well with smalls in “Spirit”, but for obvious reasons we’ve not displayed much funiture as a group…and folks aren’t coming in looking for it.  By putting our own furniture inventory in the third room, Debi and I will take the initial “hit” of having to wait until word gets out that we have a good selection of bigs.  Once we see sells of those items pick up..we’ll let the booth dealers know.

We HOPE our reasoning is sound.  We ask that dealers be patient with us in January while we get the third room up and running.  As mentioned, we think in the long run it will benefit everyone.

Now, regarding the third room…it is a little over 800 sq.ft. of display space.  The inventory we purchased is housed in a one room school house that I estimate to be near 1500 or more sq. ft.  Space is going to be tight as is, we do not anticipate having room to add new booths in the third room.  As in the past, any booths which become available will be offered to our current dealers first.  No one will be shut out from expanding when the opportunity arrives.  It is just not going to happen in January.

Let’s see, what else?  Advertising and promotions!  We had a neat promotion in November, a “Christmas Extravaganza” where we worked with some local businesses..served some treats, had some extra advertising…we plan a couple more events like that one, one around Valentine’s Day and another later on.  We are also expanding our advertising in the “American Classifieds”…we’re adding an advertisement one week each month in their online ads.  It will be a banner ad where folks can click on it and it will take them directly to the Web Store…or Web Site…depending on which is ready when it first runs.  I also spoke with the owner of “Derby Street Antiques and General Store” and he is up for cooperation between us.  He will allow a flier in his store and we in turn will add them to our maps of areas businesses.  By the way, there is no reason for those who wish to expand why you can’t rent space in more than one mall.  In fact, I suggest it!

You know, the more antique stores near us…the further and more often people will travel to visit and shop in Pekin!  That is just a simple fact.  I wish we had twenty antique stores in town!  So, I hope everyone will support the efforts of the new mall…honestly it is probably going to be better for us than if we ran an ad a week in the “Daily Times!”  Think of it like this.  Pekin has 33,000 or so residents.  Would we rather keep them all to ourselves and be a “town” mall, or would we like to attract the 100,000+ people of Peoria as well?  A second mall makes that attraction far more likely!  They can’t open up soon enough as far as I’m concerned! :^)

What else….what else….rental prices.  We’ll enjoy offering the discounted rates of $50.00 for a shelf unit and $70.00 for a locking case in January and February.  As of March 1st, 2012, rates will go back to $60.00 per shelf unit and $90.00 per case.  That is back to where they were before we discounted them.  A handful of folks joined us after the rates were discounted, I suppose to them it will seem like a rate increase.  As we’ve seen sales pick up to levels approaching 1 1/2 to 2 times what we saw even in October…we feel the return to previous investments will be easilly absorbed in sales.

Coming soon we will be revising the lease.  Nothing is going to change other than some better wording and the deletion of the “barcode security system”.  It has proven incompatable with our cash register.  We recently performed our yearly inventory…and as we suspected it lends evidence that we have not had a major issue with theft in the store.  Of about 1500 items, we could not account for 4…after six months!  How many of those four were theft, or perhaps items we somehow failed to ring up…we don’t know, maybe they ended up on the wrong shelves.  But, four items!  That’s not bad.  By the way, with the addition of the third room, we will be expanding our security system to include more cameras and motion sensors!  And, Debi has only been onboard fulltime for about one month…her continuing to be a second pair of eyes in the store can only help as well.

We’ll be closed New Years Day.  We appreciate our dealers being patient as we’ve taken some holidays off.  The breaks have kept us fresh.

I suppose everyone is board with all this by now.  You know, putting the newsletters on the blog makes them available to more than just the dealers.  But Debi and I figure we haven’t much to keep “secret” about “Spirit”.  In fact, I hope our regular customers, even new potential shoppers, enjoy (if possible the way I meander) getting their chance to be a part of the overall workings of “Spirit”.  Afterall, it is certainly they who keep us all able to find these great antiques and put them in the store!

And, when they come in and compliment us…wow…shoppers, you DESERVE to have a decent place to look around for things you want!  But, thanks…it’s your dime keeping the lights on! 

Happy New Year everyone…those antiques just got another year better!

Dan and Debi

   

 

 

Three days left to shop "Spirit" in 2011!

We’ll take a two day break on the 1st and 2nd and open up at 10am Tuesday, January 3rd.

That day, Debi will open the store and I will begin bringing in some really neat furniture which will be priced and ready to sell Tuesday afternoon!

These last three days of the month, there are bargains to be found all over the store!  Many dealers seem to have decided independently of each other to have “clearance sales”! 

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Getting ready to close the doors soon for Christmas.  Debi and I will be back at 10 am Tuesday morning.  Thanks to tremendous community support, we passed November today…having the best month of sales since we opened!

I’m torn between giving an end of the year speech now..or next week before New Years.  I guess I’ll wait until New Years Eve. 

Tonight my thoughts are of seeing family tomorrow, spending time with Debi and Jaime, and some wonderful holiday feasts!

Blessings for us this year have been many, and we thank the Lord that He has taken care of our health, our needs, and allowed us the chance to see so many “miracles”.  Everyday, another “miracle” walks into our lives.  And by that I mean the kind, friendly faces that enter “Spirit” and give us a reason to smile, laugh, and cheerfully enjoy our day.

People…….THANK YOU….I’ve never felt better about the world we live in then when I think about the souls we’ve met.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless you all!

Dan 

"Spirit of the Past Antiques" is full

I had our advertising sources change our ads to remove the “accepting dealers” portion.  We have around 40 dealers, and have enjoyed some expansion recently.

Debi and I have also acquired the inventory of a second antique store, which we will bringing in to “Spirit” in January.  This changes NOTHING in regards to our design for the store.  No dealers will be asked to leave, or downsize.  We will be a mall first, but by selling our own items we can keep the cost down on rental space. 

Debi is working from home tomorrow to finalize the Web Store.  Just a matter of posting pictures and descriptions of some products to get it going.

Sales for the first eleven “open” days of December have been remarkable!  I think we’ll certainly have another record month, likely pass November’s old record before Christmas.  Of course, as mentioned in previous posts, I expect January will be very slow regarding sales.  It will be a great opportunity for ourselves and our dealers to do resets.

Dan

"Gold Rush!"

I like to watch this show, “Gold Rush” on Friday nights.  Several guys down on their luck trying to strike it rich, literally, in the frozen tundra of Alaska!  Each week, it seems they are just about ready to start mining that precious yellow metal when some unforseen event (usually a mechanical breakdown) causes another delay in an already short season of mining.

Let’s see.  So far this season there have been:

House destroying floods in the hometown, requiring a halt to mining to try to “save” anything that didn’t float away.

Water pumps too full of mud to work properly, followed by the absence of the only mechanic in the crew capable of desiging a filter to cleanse the water.  His new lady interest, however; seemed to distract him enough that he didn’t care about finding gold.

Vehicles too wide for quickly constructed roads, dozers incapable of moving frozen ground, hills too steep to mine on, fits and starts to locate sutable claims, and then finding that part of the claim was mined already.

We had attempts to dig holes inside holes dug long ago, now clogged with old equipment.

We had squabbles, feuds, complaints, and demands to drill holes to make sure there was any gold to begin with.

I’m sure I’ve missed many.  For all this, so far from three mines, we’ve seen I think around 12 ounces of gold discovered!

So it has me thinking, what more could happen to our misfortunate gold diggers?  (Keep in mind, it is a tv show and there MUST be something by way of financial guarantees for being on the show…so it PROBABLY isn’t really a sink or swim thing.)

Anyway, my predictions of upcoming misfortunes:

Native American burial site.  After days of digging, an Native American mound is discovered….putting another hault to efforts to find gold!  Add to this, dinosaur bones, mysterious lost civilizations, and perhaps even an Egyptian Tomb (who knew Alaska could even have these!?!?)

Grizzly bears steal all the food…leaving the men starving, but unwilling to quit digging!

Or worse…the cameras freeze up and everyone is unemployed! :^(

Who knows…tonight, we’ll find out more…

Dan

 

Five sales days into the month…

…we are averaging just over 3 times dealer sales to rent!  Now, the Christmas shopping season has much to do with these fantastic sales figures, so I caution that after the next two 1/2 weeks we’ll likely see a big drop off.

The best news is, as always, folks continue to find the store…and come back…and tell their friends and family members….and they come in to shop.

Debi and I are not getting much done by way of the Web Store, we’re trying.  Once it is established, maintaining it will not be as difficult.   

We rented two more shelving units today.  I’ve lost track of how many we’ve got left.   

I received good news from one of our advertising reps who met with the owner of the new antique mall on Derby.  They are interested in working with us to refer customers to each location.  I was so very pleased to hear this, and hope to meet with them soon myself to establish a trade of fliers, etc.  Having a second quality mall in Pekin is great!  I’m hoping to combine some efforts with them to let people in Peoria know that this town of ours is fast becoming a great location to hunt for those speical treasures that can only be found in antique stores!

Dan

December Newsletter

So much to report I’m going to kind of sort it all out with as few words as possible.

1.  November ended and we reached just over 2.5 times dealers sales to rent!  Our goal is to reach 3 times, so we are getting closer each month.  November was of course a record month.

2.  Our “Christmas Extravaganza” promotional weekend was the second busiest weekend we’ve enjoyed.  We just missed doing even better than our grand opening weekend!

3.  We continue to offer our “Bundle Package” to customers, the special offer will end on Dec 23rd.

4.  The Christmas shopping season is certainly upon us, and we are finding more and more new customers…who in turn become repeat customers.  We’ve no idea how far this store can go..but it is clear we’ve not yet scratched the surface.  The compliments about the store are seemingly endless…and Pekin has been so supportive of everyone’s efforts!  We’re excited about reaching out to Peoria through some newly planned advertising. 

5.  We know December will be another very good month.  On that note, we caution everyone to expect a slow January.  Our best guess based on past experience in the retail field is that “tax return season” (February and March) will be very good months…possibly similar to November and December.

6.  We purchased a new lighted sign for above the store entrance.  It should have been installed weeks ago but illness with the signmaker delayed things.  He has stated it will be installed on Friday 12/2/2011

7.  In January, we will begin packaging price tags in bags of around 100, and charging for them.  The cost will be around $.03 each and we are seeking only to recoup the cost of buying them.  Regarding tags, please use tags with strings, or be VERY careful to tape tags to an item in such a way as to not harm the product.  Please do not use adhesive tags as they can damage the item and can be very difficult to remove.

8.  We’re still working on setting up the Web Store.  Frankly business has been so good as to slow down the completion of some of our projects, and this Web Store is but one that has been delayed.  Every effort is being made to hurry it along…but sales come first.

9.  Debi and I continue to find every corner of the store where we can stock our own items…thus leaving more shelves and cases available to dealers.  In December we lowered the prices of the cases and shelves, and have no immediate reason to raise them back up.  Eventually, and everyone might as well know, we will return to the slightly higher rates.  Not sure when, no hurry, everyone enjoy the lower prices for now while we find dealers to fill the last spots available. 

10.  We have discontinued the silent auction in favor of donating a predetermined amount of our own sales to the “Tazewell County Museum”. 

11.  We are up to 38 dealers and it looks like we’ll end up with around 55 to 60 by the time we reach capacity.  As we grow, we hope to provide the kind of service to our dealers that we have managed thus far.  But we ask that everyone be as self-sufficient as possible.  While we don’t mind helping with things like determining prices, please be aware that we can create more sales by communicating with customers, planning advertising, even just cleaning.  The more our dealers can do for themselves…the more we can, in return, work to increase sales.

12.  Keep working your display areas!  We have a number of dealers earning three, four, in some cases five or more times rent.  It can be done with the right product, display and pricing. 

13.  Thanks everyone for the Christmas decorating!  The store looks great!  “Spirit” closes on major Holidays.  We will be closed Christas Eve, Christmas and New Years.  There may be times we are forced to close during bad weather (we live on a street that is low plowing priority) …and will have a sign in the window to notify customers of this possibility. 

14.  We’ll be asking that updates to the lease be signed, mostly to clarify display locations in the store as some folks have expanded, downsized, or moved to a new spot.  The only changes to the lease will be that we have accurate records of where everyone is located.
15.  It begins to look like we had an incident where a dealer “gave up” without picking up merchandise.  We have tried to contact this person but received no reply.  As everyone knows, we don’t collect late fees, we tend to go past deadlines (see lease) in regards to people pulling out without charge.  We also insist on using a monthly lease, as we don’t want anyone “stuck” in the store if they want out.  But as the store is getting full…we need folks to notify us of any downsizing or pulling out by the 20th of the month so we can  respond to the situation by contacting potential renters..especially now with the booths, and certainly eventually with all locations in the store.  The lease states that items abandoned will become the property of “Spirit of the Past Antiques”.  We’ve decided to give this person until the end of December to pay for the months that items were on display…and pick up the product.  In January if this isn’t done we’ll donate it to Goodwill.  (We don’t feel right just keeping it.  Although, I suppose in the future to recover the lost rental income we might have a different perspective.)  I mention all this mostly to remind that we need to be notifed of changes in display rentals, including downsizing or terminating the lease, by the 20th of the month.  It is assumed a dealer has commited to the next month if we do not receive timely notification…and rental charges will take place for the following month.  To keep rental prices as low as possible for everyone, we must follow this part of the lease.   

16.  I typed fast and I suppose I might have missed something.  Debi and I try to provide updates during the month and we’ll always notify on Facebook of any important news on the blog.  We’ve emailed this newsletter to those we could. We’ve included an offer to print a copy of this for those without computers with Novembers dealer income statement.  Hopefully we’ve given everyone ample opportunity to stay informed.

17.  We wish everyone a great Christmas season.  Thank you all so much for being with us while we grow!  On Dec. 14th we’ll celebrate being open for six months!  Time has flown by and we’re way ahead of where we expected to be at this point.  The first year of a new business is supposed to be pretty tough, many don’t make it.  Perhaps it is luck…intuition…who knows, but “Spirit” is doing pretty well…and our dealers deserve much of the credit.  Help us reach that goal of sustainable 3 times income to rent by bringing in great products!  Price well, decorate, and clean and perhaps…we can consider expanding on our goals!

Dan and Debi Bruns “Spirit of the Past Antiques”