April Newsletter

Sales in March were disappointing.  Dealers will have averaged somewhere around 2.2 to 2.3x rent for the month after tomorrow.  This month was quite a letdown to Debi and I as we’ve enjoyed such good sales since the beginning of November.

We had already planned on becoming more active in advertising in the Peoria area, and the slow sales motivated us further.  We have committed to a year of coupon ads in the Peoria Journal Star.  The “Spirit” coupon is a 2″x 2″ ad which will appear three times each month in the “Star” as well as everyday on PJStar.com

The first coupon appeared on Thursday, and sales that have come directly from traffic generated by the ad have already paid for the ad (sales spread out throughout the store…some folks coming in with the coupon still opt to purchase even from dealers not associated with the promotion!)

The coupon simply offers a 15% discount on “Spirit” tagged merchandise.  However, several dealers have chosen to honer the coupon as well.  We will be changing the coupon to read, “15% off merchandise from participating dealers.”

We urgently ask all our dealers that are just finding out about this promotion to contact us if you wish to participate!  We will try to contact everyone asap.  It is NOT a requirement.  The ad should benefit those who participate as well as those who don’t simply by generating foot traffic.  We are requiring that a coupon be presented, otherwise we will continue to offer traditional discounts (or not) as we have done in the past…allowing each dealer to determine for themselves what discount, if any, they wish to offer.

Other interesting events:

April 14th will mark the 10th month that “Spirit” has been open.  For a new business, we’ve encountered few obstacles, and enjoyed great success!  Debi and I thank all our dealers for your efforts.

“Spirit” merchandise seems to be spread all over the store.  In the coming weeks, Debi and I will be doing a massive reset of our products.  We intend to create a clearance section for “Spirit” products and to liquidate inventory which is over 10 months old.  As we do this, space will open up.  As always, we encourage expansion amongst our dealers…we will always make room for those who wish to invest more time and energy into creating bigger displays.

We have mentioned that through attrition (not replacing dealers who chose to leave) we have hoped to lower our community of dealers from nearly 40 to a more manageable 20-25 persons.  We now stand at 28 dealers.  We are seeking to have at least 2/3rds of the square footage of the store be occupied by dealers.  “Spirit” is a bit short of that mark.  Debi and I have about 40% of the space at this time.  If expansion doesn’t fill the gaps, we will sign new dealers.

We are looking forward to what appears to be many new customers from our “Journal Star” ads!  One kind of cute story.  “Spirit” enjoys the visits from a great husband and wife team who shop regularly in our store.  They are from Northern Wisconsin, yet somehow manage to visit us frequently.  They are dealers themselves, and enjoy the great prices our dealers (and Debi and I) offer.  They were in the store and overheard our determination to advertise…and the wife lamented that now others would find us and buy up all the good stuff!  I assured her that all our dealers are hard workers…great shoppers…and would continue to keep their shelves full!  (I’m sure of it.)

So, folks, while we took a slight step back in March (not nearly as bad as it sounds…some of the drop in percentage of sales to investment were the result of our price change) we have also reacted with positive determination to expand our network of customers.  Many of you know that I (Dan) would break through a steel door to provide better service for both our dealers AND our customers.  I dearly love a good challenge and consider April the next inning in this baseball game.

And…finally.  Pekin’s resale/antique and vintage shopping opportunities continue to grow!  “Derby St” has been open around one month…”Amanda’s Closet” has moved to her new HUGE location…our own dealer, Alan, will be opening “Military Uniform and Supply” next to “Amanda’s Closet” in April…”One More Time” is expanding”…and there are many other shops in town open for business as well!  Cooperation and a great friendship is developing amongst all these fine small businesses.  Pekin is poised to be a tremendous town to visit for the wonderful shopping experiences. 

Isn’t it something…I can’t help but shake my head in amazement at how all this is turning out!  To our dealers who have been patient…struggled at times, and those who have enjoyed good sales every month…I truly believe we’ve only scratched the surface of where “Spirit” is heading!

Please, remember to let us know if you want to participate in the “Journal Star” coupon.

Yours,

Dan (and Debi who is wisely sleeping to be ready for a busy Saturday)

2/3rds through March!

Sales have been good overall, rivaling our best month of December and there is a good chance we can pass that total.

Sales have actually been spread out better around the store!

We’re finishing up the design of a reoccurring ad in the Peoria Journal Star.  We’ll run this a few times each month for several upcoming months…introducing ourselves to Peoria.  Kind of scary to imagine the kind of traffic this might bring in.

We’re going to be doing a massive reset of “Spirit” inventory and creating a clearance section to sell anything we’ve had in the store since before our initial opening.  We expect that we’ll have created some open spaces to offer to our current dealers for expansion, and then to select new dealers.       

March updates after first 12 business days of 27 this month

We stand about $4.00 per day short of beating December’s record sales.  Currently, dealer sales are at 2.2x rent.  That is much lower than the 3x rent which is always the store goal.

Good news is, in February we started out slow..at the same point in the month (12 business days) we were at only 2X rent.  The following 13 sales days actually beat the store goal to bring the avg. much higher by the end of the month.  The same could happen this month as well…Debi and I are certainly hopeful.  I can’t imagine tax refund season is over just yet.

We’ve got 15 more days of business in March!  However, due to the huge variances in results between dealers…we’ve already had some good folks decide to end their lease at the end of March.  We believe that is for the best.  As mentioned many times, I (Dan) can’t stand expecting payment for rent from someone who has had poor sales.  I much prefer handing a nice sales check to dealers.

I guess this is one way to reach the goal of 3x rent…if those not making it pull out.  Perhaps that is to be expected with a new store?  Fortunately for those staying, and for us, Debi and I are doing pretty well with our own sales (figures we never include when computing dealer percentages) so the store is in good shape. 

We’ve some decisions to make, however.  We do not, can not, and won’t consider, trying to have a store without dealers.  We think a good mix of our own products and about 20-25 productive, successful vendors is the way to go.  But we may have to open up spaces to some new dealers if expansion does not take place.  We don’t want to dominate floor space much beyond the area we already use ( in fact…we already use more than we think we need.)  If that means more dealers…then that will be the way we go.  Dealers will need to be self-sufficient in that case, as our time will be divided among the many, not the few.

If we open up space…we will be patient and careful to sign up dealers that fit the community.  Proper products…effort, etc. 

In today’s economy…it is perhaps to be expected…the most successful dealers have been selling items in the $15.00-$25.00 range.  Furniture is also starting to move as we’d hoped after opening the third room.  Especially furniture that is priced up to around $150.00.  Even higher priced furniture has moved, at a slower pace.

As we mentioned at the Dealer Apprieciation pizza party…Debi and are are grateful for all the efforts put forth by our dealers.  You folks occupy over 2/3rds the square footage of the store!  The fact that we’ve ALL created a successful antique mall in the middle of a tough economic stretch says much about all of our efforts.  But there is something I wish to caution….

Gas prices are rising drastically…that means inflation on items such a food as well.  With high unemployment, although the national economy is improving, we’re a long way off from seeing the kind of consumer confidence that will promote big ticket purchases.  That goes far beyond Pekin, by the way.  Despite increased traffic from Peoria, and planned marketing strategies to get the “Spirit” name to new customers, don’t expect us to easilly find high dollar buyers.

I had an economics professor in college during the recession of the 1980’s explain a simple strategy.  In tough economic times…buy stock in hot dogs.  Currently, the average price of an item Debi and I stock is under $10.00.  We want to raise the quality of our products…but people aren’t buying alot of steak right now. 

“Spirit” is working, it’s doors are open and will stay that way as we are past the level where anyone need be concerned.  Debi and I are excited about future plans.  Folks, we’ve grown a good crop in the middle of a drought, we should all be proud. 

Dan and Debi 

   

March Newsletter

Hi everyone!

February started out slow for the first week, but sales increased throughout the month and by month’s end dealers had sold 2.5 times their investment in display space!  We’ve seen sales of items priced in the $100.00 to $150.00 range increase, especially furniture.  We’ve also seen the average total sale increase.  One final indicator is that unlike January, most sales have been cash purchases.

All these indicate that tax refund “season” is upon us.  March enjoys 27 days open for business, five of which are Saturdays…by far the busiest day of the week for us.

Debi and I feel it is very likely we will see tremendous final sales figures for March.

At this time, selecting new dealers is suspended unless a dealer comes along with great experience and great product.  We will be offering expansion to our current dealers, certainly with open shelf units and likely a locking display case or two.  We do not have any open booths at this time but if any come open they will be offered to current dealers as well.  Please let us know ASAP if you desire to expand, offers will be extended on a first come/first serve basis.

We’ve finished bringing our own inventory from Rapatee to the store.  Some of it waits to be inventoried and priced.  We had a major hurdle to overcome when the computer at work died on us…but it has been replaced and all bookkeeping information is once again current. 

Cathy Trotter has agreed to help behind the sales counter a couple days each month.  She will be in the store with Debi this coming Sunday, and will watch the store on her own this coming Tuesday.  Debi and I will be attending a memorial service that day for my sister Betty, who passed away last week.

Everything from the new Web Store, to Debi’s new office, and many other projects, are still under “construction”.  We’re progressing as fast as we can, and we feel that “Spirit” is moving quickly in the right direction.

Sales for the first day of March, today, ended with dealers reaching 3x rent!  That is on a Thursday!  I (Dan) strongly urge our dealers to maintain your display space well this month…bring in new product, keep the displays looking good.  We’re going to see much product moving out the door this month…might as well do everything we can to make the most of it!

There is much more I could get into…but after lasts months “thesis” I’m determined to keep it short this month.  Thanks to all for the efforts in February…Dealer Appreciation night was fun for Debi and I, and we hope to do that sort of thing again…new antique stores are opening, or opened, or coming soon…to Pekin and we’re seeing great results already from cooperating with our neighbors.  We have enjoyed good comments regarding the new third room..and customers are finding us from the surrounding areas!

Again…March is going to be a blast!

Dan and Debi