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