Nine days (open) into February

The start of the month was slow, dealer sales were down under 2x rent the first five days.  But the last four we’ve kicked it in strong and dealer sales for the month are now up to 2.5 times rent.  I was particularly happy that the last four days averaged 3.2 times rent.

One concern is that we have a month where some dealers are hot and others have barely sold at all.  But nine days is hardly a large enough sample to get any idea of trends.  As we saw today (over 6x rent) things can change in a blink of an eye.

Sixteen days to go…hopefully we’ll see the strong sales continue and we can get closer to, or perhaps pass for the first time, 3x rent.  I (Dan) think it is important to see a positive trend as rent investments are increasing in March. 

As to our own sales, the opening of the third room has gone better than expected, and we are very excited by our own numbers.  Debi and I have discussed the benefits to the dealers that this creates.  We can use rent to pay bills and what is left over can be used to advertise the store.  We want to open up our efforst to let Peoria know we are big enough to be worth a trip to Pekin.

Today, from 10:15 until after 4pm, we had many folks shopping.  The lot was very full, as were the aisles.  We’ve noticed a trend where the more people are in the store, the more likely every shopper is to purchase.  We wonder if shoppers kind of “feed” off each other. 

Anyway, this post seems all to “money” related and the most important thing was we saw many people having a good time.  Debi says the busier the store gets..the goofier I get.  I did notice most folks were laughig and enjoying the “show”.

We managed to conitnue to price Rapatee items…getting closer to the day we are done. 

Guess I’ll play a game of Risk against my arch enemy the computer and then get some sleep for tomorrow.  Sunday, Debi and Jaime will be running “Spirit”.  In the morning I’m cleaning out what will become Debi’s new office and then going out to do some marketing.

February Newsletter (Book)

“Spirit of the Past Antiques” February Newsletter

Chapter One:  “Making Money”

Hi everyone!  This WILL end up about half a book, so much to talk about!  I apologize if it gets a little long, or if I cover things I’ve said before.

January sales were down.  Dealer sales ended just above 2x rent, around 2.2.  That falls short of the goal of 3x rent, and represented the first time we failed to increase from the month before since September.  Debi and I had been concerned there would be a decrease in sales in January.  We believe it will be a natural occurrence.  Our “trends” have followed those of most retail stores…and actually differ from the typical antique store.  We found December’s Christmas shopping to be strong.  It will be a hard month to repeat and may be our best month for, oh, one or two more months before our natural growth catches up to it.

Likewise, January followed the same “retail” pattern of lower sales.  If these patterns continue we can expect very good sales in February and March.  The next two months are “tax return” season and shoppers should be able to afford higher ticket items.  We’ll see.  I’m (Dan) betting from past experience in retail that I’m right.  Seriously, I am betting on it.  We’ve brought in a great deal of furniture expecting to see higher investment items sell well over the next 60 days.  (More on this later)

On a related note, I had a conversation today with a dealer about what can be done to increase sales.  I have to say that I get thrilled when folks make every attempt to create as much sales success as possible.  Debi and I DO NOT want to make a living collecting display rent checks from people who are not enjoying good return on their investments and efforts. 

Before we opened the store, Debi and I had never been dealers in our lives.  In fact we’d never owned a store of any kind!  But over the last eight months or so (most of which we’ve been open and more still learning the ins/outs and preparing the store) we’ve learned much from 50 hour weeks in “Spirit” and our research and that experience led us to enjoy our personal best month of sales in January…despite it being a slow month!  I’m mentioning that not to brag, but as a precursor to some suggestions I would make to anyone investing in display space in “Spirit”.

First, the average antique mall sells (turns) about 10% of its inventory in a month.  Our own inventory turns slightly higher than that rate.  That means that if everything you sell is priced right, displayed right, and is desirable merchandise, you can expect 10% or slightly better to sell.  If you stock $1,000 in inventory…you should expect $100.00 in sales in a month.

IF you are achieving that turn, and yet struggling to profit because rent seems too high, or price of product is too high, then you have options available that can help. 

Increase inventory.  A $60.00 shelf unit has 40 sq. ft. of space.  That is five 2 ft by 4 ft shelves.  The top and bottom shelves are difficult because they are 2 ft. wide and merchandise is hard to display, it gets lost in the back.  There are ways around this by placing larger items on top…or lowering the height of the top shelf.  The bottom shelf can be used to display wider products.  But even if we FORGET ABOUT those two shelves entirely…we’ve still got 24 sq. ft. of display space.  Let’s say we desire to sell THREE TIMES our rent of $60.00, or $180.00.

24 sq. ft of shelf, $18.75 every 6 sq inches, can we accomplish that in inventory?  Not with $1.00, $2.00 items which take up too much space.  Examples that fill about 6 sq inches and that sell for $18.75 or more?  Coffee grinders, oil lamps, primitives, art glass, even two or three sets of salt and pepper shakers will fit in 6 sq inches and combined can easily sell for close to $18.75!  Averaged with the oil lamp that takes up 6 sq inches and sells for $30.00 and it all works out. 

So it is about a large enough amount of inventory, number one.  If a dealer fills the three middle shelves with a total of $1800.00 inventory, and manages to fill the top and bottom shelves with half that, or another $600.00.  That’s $2400.00 inventory.  10% turn and surprise, the dealer has grossed not 3 times rent, but FOUR Times rent!

Cost of goods is another concern of course, that is an area dealers need to answer for themselves but  a common goal seems to be buy for no more than 1/3 what you plan to sell that same item…and frankly 1/3 may be a bit high.  There is something about cleaning up a vintage or antique piece, and putting it in a retail environment that seems to magically increase its value!  The truth is, it is the hard work and determination that dealers exhibit to gather valuable items into one location for ease of shopping which is the true magic.  Between gas and time spent locating items, and the effort to research and price them, then display them, expecting a reasonable profit margin is completely fair.

Large enough inventory and then if sales fall short of the 10% turn? 

The first thing to look at is how your items are displayed.  Have you done anything to attract the shopper’s eye?  Bright colors, linens, anything to draw attention can only help get your product noticed.  Next is cleanliness.  Are your products cleaned?  Are your display areas cleaned?  It is in the lease that Debi and I clean the common areas, and that cleaning display space is up to the dealer.  There is a reason for this as if Debi and I spend every day cleaning, and it would take every day, we simply can’t do the job of selling your products, or walk the store providing security, or do the bookwork to get sales checks done on time.

Regarding the display, too much inventory can hurt as well!  Consider that if you were a shopper, would you reach to the back to look at an item if it meant lifting something off of it, or moving items to get to it?  Can a shopper even SEE some of the items at the back?  There is a point where too much inventory will hurt your sales.  At some point, it may be viable to consider expanding to more display space if you are trying to make more money.  (Another point here, the most valuable small items are jewelry, coins, perhaps even collectables such as pocket knives.  Those things obviously fit in pockets and as such are the first items stolen from display areas.  They are hardest for Debi and I to protect.  Any items that are small enough to fit into a pocket are likely to end up in a pocket if not locked up.  It costs about $70.00 plus lock for a decent locking shelf display case.  It is worth it.)

 Finally, if your inventory is of proper investment, if your display is clean and appealing, and you are not making sales, you can consider your prices.  Selling for too low can cause a potential buyer to have doubts of an items authenticity.  Selling for too high, well, you won’t often sell anything when it is priced too high.  It is important to research your items well and price at a value that is correct for the area market.  (Book prices, even Ebay prices, can often be a little higher than the Pekin/Peoria market will pay.  Why not sell on Ebay?  In some cases it may be a better option, but consider the time spent, the commission, and sometimes an antique store IS the better choice.)  We would add that including any research by way of good descriptions of the item either on the price tag or perhaps included on a little sign attached to the item helps as well.  People like to know the history of the items they are considering buying. 

Again, if you are selling less than 10% of your inventory each month, and your display is done well, you need to look at your pricing.  Even if you are managing the 10% turn, watch closely items that have been on display past seven, eight months, they are reaching the point where they should have sold.  Perhaps they are not something attractive to area buyers?  Perhaps they might be replaced with something else?  Debi and I do not suggest a reset every one or two months, we feel that even six months might be a little early, but at that point it wouldn’t be “way too soon”.

Well, I said this Newsletter would be half a book.  And I’ve just about covered the first chapter: “Making Money”.  Other ideas are seasonal decorating, seasonal merchandise.  One thing we DON’T think helps a great deal is discount signs.  Everything is Twenty Percent Off!”?   We haven’t seen many shoppers come in looking for the “bargains”.  Many assume prices have been fixed (raised to make the discount pretty much meaningless).  What Debi and I do, is when it is time to lower a price on an item which has been in our inventory too long, is simply change the tag.  Crossing out a price, and writing a new one?  It worries us because any shopper could have a pen and do the same to any item in a display area where a dealer has already set the “example”.  And, how do Debi and I tell the difference between a legitimately crossed out tag and one that is a shopper applied “discount”?

We have done our best to explain what we’ve seen work and what we’ve seen that doesn’t work.  Of course, leasing display space means each dealer is their own boss.  Please take our suggestions with the helpful and hopeful intent we have to provide advice to anyone who desires it.  The main thing, because honestly folks none of us including Debi and I are likely to get rich at this, is to just have fun! 

Chapter Two:  “Some Neat Stuff!”

We have ONE booth available in the first room starting on March 1st.  It is 8’x6’ and rents for $120.00 per month.  We will offer it to the first dealer who asks!  After this booth, any others that come available will be offered based on a waiting list we are beginning NOW.  So if interested in a booth…let us know asap. 

We have up to three new dealers joining us in February.  Welcome new folks! 

Sunday, February 26th, at 5pm we are having a Dealer Appreciation night.  Let us know if you plan to attend.  We will have pizza and soft drinks in the store and it will give everyone a chance to meet other dealers! 

Feb 1st we opened the “Third Room”.  This 800+ square foot addition to the store is where Debi and I will display most of our own merchandise.  We have found that selling our own products is profitable.  It pays the bills, puts money in our pockets, allows us to keep rental prices low (reasonable), and gives us a chance to display items which smaller display spaces can’t afford to keep around waiting for a certain buyer.  A good example of this is furniture.  We are not known to carry much furniture due to the display design of the first two rooms.  There just isn’t much room for big items.  As such, people haven’t come in specifically looking for furniture…and those types of items have not sold at the 10% turnover (or better) that our smalls have enjoyed.  We will “take the hit”, and stock furniture to build a reputation of having such items.

The third room will include a “rest area” where customers can enjoy a cup of coffee…someday we’ll have snacks available also.  There will be a table and chairs.  Dealers should also use this area to sit down and price items if needed.  Use of this resource will allow customers to move about the store more freely.  It would be a shame for a dealer to lose a sale because the customer cannot see everything on display.

We want to stay a mall.  We can’t even imagine trying to constantly stock our own inventory for a store the size of ours.  There may be concerns regarding the third room, but it amounts to about 1/4th the entire area of the store.  We are not trying to sell only our own product.  No one renting a full display area is going to ever be asked to leave in favor of our own merchandise.  But, we ARE going to use what space we need for our own products, for the reasons already mentioned.

 “The Pekin Daily Times” is going to do an article about us in their business section!  It will help of course get word out about “Spirit of the Past Antiques”.  We are pursuing our regular advertising and marketing strategies, considering some additional efforts, and have some things in the works which we are not ready to disclose just yet.  And some things which we will not disclose because we’re the only ones in the area doing them and we kind of like having our own secret “fishing holes”. :^)

Coming soon, we’re going to redo the lease.  Nothing will change for our current and “new” dealers.  The wording may be simpler, that’s pretty much it.  For future dealers who sign up, we are going to change the lease to require a first and last month’s rent and an initial 3 month commitment.  After 3 months the lease will become monthly as everyone enjoys right now.  We find that dealers often start out slow.  It takes a bit for shoppers to see the new items and think about them, or tell others about the new stuff, before things really start to move!  A three month commitment is our way of making sure we sign up people prepared to go the distance.

We also wish to stress that as sales increase, all dealers be as self-sufficient as possible.   If we spend time doing your research, or helping mark your tags, we are taking time from doing the work that sells your merchandise.  And, as much as we enjoy visiting with our friends, we must make economical use of our time.  If we have to step away from a conversation, please understand that we are at work and just doing our jobs.

We’ve hired a company to set up our Web Store.  We found that our design was simplistic (we’re not experts in this area) and didn’t present the kind of look that we desire to express online.  The Web Store is coming, that’s all we can say at this time.

We are expanding our security system by adding cameras not only to the third room, but additional motion sensors and another camera in the first room where shoplifting has been most prevalent.  Our own recent inventory revealed that of over 1,000 items, we were “missing” four.  In this economy, that is not an overwhelming number.

A reminder that as of March 1st shelves will rent for $60.00 per unit.  Locking cases will rent for $90.00 per unit.  Please inform us no later than February 20th if you wish to downsize or terminate your lease for this or any other reason.  Regarding expansion, let us know soon if you wish to expand.  We currently have a little space left that we prefer to make available to our current dealers.  We also have a large amount of our own inventory and as we research it, price it, and display it, we will be less inclined to remove it at a later date.

To be completely honest, in less than eight months of being open Debi and I have seen many dealers enjoy great success, and a few that have not.  We know it can be done.  We THRILL at handing out sales checks to the success stories, and we get a sick feeling in our gut to collect rent from those struggling.  But, so often there isn’t a thing we can do to change a dealers results.  We are already doing everything we can.  We’ve learned that being a mall has its own brand of stress that doesn’t come from selling our own product.  We’re watching as sales increase and gleeful at the progress in just these short months.  Our community deserves to be proud of the early results, and should be optimistic about the future.

But, where I can see the store ending up is with Debi and I selling our own inventory along with 20 or 30 solid dealers.  Keep in mind that is less than the amount of dealers we currently enjoy.  No, we will not toss anyone out in favor of our own inventory.  But as natural attrition (people leaving for whatever reason) takes place…we will FIRST offer expansion to current dealers, SECOND either take the space for our items, OR ad carefully selected new dealers.  Our vision is to be a good quality, profitable, premium service, antique mall where dealers feel they get top of the line representation and everyone from the newest shopper who just happens to find us to the longest tenured dealer feels this is the place they wish to do business.

We think the Web Store will add a new dimension to the possibilities available to everyone. 

We know that adding the third room, and the great opportunity provided by the upcoming opening of “Derby Street Antiques and General Store” , will help draw customers from greater distances.  Debi and I wish there were many antique stores in Pekin for that very reason.  I’ve mentioned before that we could “enjoy” the 33,000 residents of Pekin as the only antique mall in town, or DELIGHT in sharing those 33,000 and the 100,000+ residents of Peoria and the many more beyond!

We think we’re heading in a great direction friends!  Our customers continue to comment in many positive ways about “Spirit”, from the layout, the prices, the service, the products, we’ve all done a great job and things are going to get better and better.  Just think of it, the strides we’ve made in less than a year!  The first year is supposed to be about struggling, what great evidence the results to date are regarding the rewards the future brings!

We are so happy to have so many good folks with us on this ride.  No one is going to be thrown off the bus, or have their ticket revoked.  But as we progress we envision widening the seats a bit when room allows and being more “first class” for the passengers. 

Thanks everyone for the great times and ties we’ve enjoyed!  And for those we enjoy in the future!

Dan and Debi      

10 days into January

We’ve finished 7 of the 25 days we’ll be open in January.  Sales are at pace to equal or slightly beat November’s totals.  One trend that continues is a noticable discrepancy between dealers who are already at or above rent, and those struggling to just make rent.

Debi and I haven’t been long in the business, but with some experience behind us we’re seeing what works and what doesn’t in the store.

For our part, our biggest struggle has been selling furniture.  This was addressed in the January newsletter.  With the purchase of “Simple Country Pleasures” in Rapatee, we’ve acquired a number of decent quality pieces of furniture.  Several items are in the store already.  We’re selling these at good prices, lower than we would ask in most circumstances.  Our purpose is to establish a reputation as a good store to shop for furniture. 

We’re also in the midst of expanding into a third room at “Spirit”.  The latest word from the Landlord is that his part of the construction will be completed this coming Sunday or Monday.  Once we can get in, we will paint, set up fixtures, and move in as soon as possible.  We’ll then bring many more bigs in to the store.  Again, as mentioned in the newsletter, our intent is to expand the customer base to persons shopping for bigs.  Let’s be honest…we just haven’t had many in the store and we can’t expect to attract this new customer base without the merchandise to offer!  It may take a bit to start a trend towards larger items.  We know that, and we don’t expect our booth dealers to use precious display space.

To those that do bring in furniture, we hope our efforts will succeed in helping your sales.

Now, as to the subject at hand about the differences we’re seeing in results for our dealers.  If folks are looking to improve their sales, some of the best results have been:

Coming in often to clean and rearrange/decorate display space.  Those dealers that do this, simply enjoy better sales than those that don’t.

Good pricing.  Good products.  Large and varied inventory.  Better results have come from dealers who bring in antique or vintage items, and price them according to the Pekin market.  Primitives/vintage glassware/signs/jewelry have all been selling.  There isn’t a noticable trend except that reproductions and “newer” (we’ve some in the store which we really shouldn’t have) items aren’t moving.  We also have many items which have been in the store in dealers booths since we opened.  Is it time for a price change, or a product change?  It would be a good idea for dealers to walk the store and check pricing.  How do yours compare?

“Spirit of the Past Antiques” has enjoyed sales close to the triple rent figure we aspire to achieve for two full months and it looks like January will be the third.  It can be done.  It is being done by many.  We do not believe we’ve even come close to the best sales figures we can achieve.  We’ve only been open seven months!  And, we’ve many dealers who are just as new to this as Debi and I.  A learning “curve” is to be expected.  We are very happy with the community of dealers we’ve extablished.  The store is currently completely full.  When we finish setting up the third room, we hope to have opened up some spaces in room one for expansion.  All our current dealers will be offered what space is made available before we contact people on the waiting list.

One announcement which will be “official” in the February Newsletter.  We’ve noticed that the single shelf dealers..either using open shelves or those in locking cases..do tend to struggle the most to earn profitable returns.  As of April 1st, we’re going to end the opportunity for anyone to rent less than a full shelf unit or locking case.  We’ll certainly strive to offer expansion to those folks (to a complete unit) first.  We don’t want to force anyone out…but we never feel right taking payments for rent when a dealer isn’t earning profits from the display space.  And single shelves are just not big enough to “absorb” a bad week.  They are too “hit and miss”.  Obviously the few pegboards do not lend themselves to expansion, so we’ll keep offering them in the same manner as we have since we opened.

Debi and I have our hands full with the expansion.  Not only are we opening up the third room, but we will be setting up a business office for Debi where the current storage room is located, and we will be remodeling (rearranging extensively) the sales counter area.  Behind the counter we will be setting up displays of our products…thus keeping more of the floor space available to dealers.

We also think removing the “paperwork” in favor of an “old country store” appearance will give the customers a little more enjoyable shopping experience.

Because we’ve got so much on our plates…the Web Store continues to be tauntingly close to completion..but still out of reach.  We’ve decided to hire outside help to check out the design and make the Web Store as atttractive and efficient as possible.  It is coming…no new projections as to when because I’ve optimistically made too many already.  All I can say is…it is on the way. 

When I (Dan) say we’ve got much on our plates…I’m not kidding.  The items we’ve brought in from Rapatee have just scratched the surface!  We worked all but one day in December and all but one day so far in January to move items, research and inventory them, price them and get them on the sales floor!  Our attention is on the details of timing to get the third room open, and all previously mentioned, done as soon as possible.  If at times we’ve seemed tired, or unintentionally “short” to anyone…please understand it is simply because of all we are trying to accomplish in as short a time frame as possible.

“Spirit of the Past Antiques” will be a stronger business entity due to the work we’re putting in this month.  We’ll be a better place for shoppers, and a better place to be a dealer.  One of the last things we want to see is folks that have struggled to date to make rent decide to give up prematurely.  But, we set up our lease to be one month at a time because it would be worse to us to see dealers want out and be stuck in a lease.  We’ve had many people coming in wanting display space.  We are well stocked ourselves with items to display.  If anyone does want out…we hope they don’t decide to stay for fear of hurting our feelings.  Debi and I feel the friendships we’ve made with our dealers go much further than “rent”.  And if anyone does decide to pull out…we’ll understand.

As the title mentions, it is 10 days into January.  On the 14th we’ll have been open for seven months!  We’ve been through a summer, fall, and Christmas shopping season.  Results overall have been more than Debi and I expected this early in the process of establishing a store.  But, we’ve also seen enough months for folks to determine if their personal results are acceptable.  (Some dealers have expressed that “making rent or a little better” is about what they expect…if they are happy with that and being a dealer is more of a hobby, we certainly understand and have no issue there.  It does throw off our statisitcs a bit…lowers the results overall…but why not have room in the store for those doing this as a “hobby”?  It’s ok by us!)  Perhaps what I’m trying to get at is this simple…as a dealer at “Spirit of the Past Antiques” are you having FUN?  If you are…wonderful!  If it is going to take better sales, well, we’ve offered some suggestions, we’ve seen the store work for many so we know it can work for anyone.  If a dealer isn’t satisified, and especially isn’t having fun…the 20th is the last day of the month to give us notification that you wish to end the monthly lease agreement.  We’ve got folks who want to expand…we’ve got our own product…and we’ve got folks that want to move in.  You won’t hurt our feelings and in fact you will releave us of feeling so rotten to be taking your rent when you aren’t making any money!

Now, I suppose I’ve rattled on and on again…and I hope I’ve created the right “tone” in this post.  I don’t want to sound like I’m pushing anyone out…and I don’t want to sound like I don’t understand that some folks are just having a good time and not worried about “profit”.  Though we ARE going to end the single shelf rentals…we’ll find room to offer expansion to those folks.  No one is being asked to leave.  Likewise, no one is being asked to stay if they wish to get out.  “Spirit of the Past Antiques” was started with the intent to be a fun place to own, or be a dealer, or shopper….that is the point I’m trying to make….if you are having fun, stick around, we think it is only going to get better.  If you are not having fun, or not making enough sales to make it fun, don’t worry about us…do what is right for you!

Dan         

      

Charlie Chaplin’s "It’s a Dog’s Life"

AMC was running a Charlie Chaplin marathon tonight.  Debi and I caught all of “Modern Times”.  Towards the last half hour, her six year old grandson, Ethan, joined us and became quite interested in the movie.  I was impressed with how he caught onto the facial and body expressions…understanding the plot very well.  He asked why the movie was not in color.  We explained that it was very old, and movies used to be in black and white.  He asked about why there was no talking, we explained that old movies couldn’t record sound.  (“Modern Times did have sound, just not much more than background noises as that was Chaplin’s “thing”.)

Ethan laughed soundly at the right parts, and often expressed his own narative, “He told him to leave!”, stuff like that.”

I was fighting back tears of joy!  Here was a six year old enjoying a Chaplin flick…filmed in 1936!  I loved it.  When the film was finished, Ethan wandered off to do his own thing.  Debi and I were just so proud of him, and so happy to see something as classic as a Chaplin film could still captivate a child! 

Then, during a preview of the next film, “A Dog’s Life”, Ethan reappeared and asked, “Is there another one!?”

“A Dog’s Life” is a 1918 Chaplin short, just 30 minutes.  None of us had seen it before.  We three watched it start to finish.

(Chuckle) In this world of video games, “Star Wars”, and everything big…fantastic…amazing…it is so nice to see “The Little Tramp” come out from mothballs to capture the imagination of a child.  

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