Tips on Working With Seasonal Products in a Small Retail Business

With the holidays just around the corner, many new small business owners find themselves swept up in the holiday specialty items their suppliers offer. As a retail gift basket business owner many years ago, my first year of business found me ordering every cute holiday-themed item my suppliers carried. I wanted to fill my gift baskets and shelves with every cute holiday-themed item I could find. However, after the holiday season ended, I quickly realized that was a big mistake.

Specialty Items

If you have a retail business, you will find the holiday catalogs from your suppliers will start filling your mailbox in July. As you start going through the catalogs, if you are anything like me, you will find many holiday-themed items that you just know your customers will love. In my first year, I ordered everything from specialty containers with holiday designs printed on them to some of my best-selling food items packaged in Christmas designs. While these items are great, I quickly learned they can be very limiting once the holiday is over.

Too Many Left Over

My first holiday season, I did very well with holiday orders. However, like many new businesses, I had ordered more product than I needed for the holiday. Unfortunately, the majority of the product I had remaining once all my orders were filled were the specialty items with the holiday print. Now that the season was over, I had nothing I could use these gifts for. While the specialty containers could be saved in storage for next year's Christmas, the food would spoil within a month or so. I was left with this excess inventory I had purchased and would not be able to make any money off of it.

Making the Leftovers Work

I had to think of some way to use these leftover products to my advantage. I came up with an idea that would allow me to advertise my business to organizations while helping others in need. I took all my remaining holiday-themed products and spent the day before Christmas making up 30 different gifts. I attached a business card to each one. I then contacted local shelters and churches and asked if I could bring in donations of gifts for people in need, and they, of course, were thrilled. I delivered the gifts that day and felt good that I had created gifts for others who may not have received anything else that holiday. It turned out good in the long run because I ended up getting regular business from the organizations I had donated to.

Holiday Colors

That first year taught me that while specialty items are cute, ordering everything with a holiday design is not the best bet. I learned that a few specialty items were all I needed. Color became my holiday secret, and instead of buying holiday printed items, I purchased items in the colors of the holiday. This way, after the holiday was over, I could still use the products and incorporate them into different designs.
More from Deborah Braconnier:
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