Here and there, from time to time, I visit random scrapbooking supply retailers all over this state and a few other states as well. I love scrapbook stores, especially independant ones. I love the charm and character that I find in most of them. I enjoy browsing--checking out supplies and art and soaking up the creative energy.
Unless there is none...and then I just get sad.
I should first acknowledge that I have never owned a scrapbook store, so any opinions on how a scrapbook store should be managed are strictly "advice from the cheap seats".
That said, I do feel qualified to put my opinions and thoughts out there because I do know a thing or two about scrapbookers, having studied them for many years and having been one for even longer. And because I have shopped in many many many stores...I'm pretty sure I've picked up on the good and the bad...and I wish I could share what I have learned with every store owner. Marketing, especially small business marketing, is my thing.
With that in mind, here's my list of ten things every scrapbook store owner should know:
1. Loose lips sink scrapbook stores.
Like it or not, your clients are not your friends. Oh sure, you can be surface friends and scrapbooking buddies with your clients, but if you are going to preserve your reputation in your scrapbooking community as a professional business owner, you must keep your business details to yourself. If you chatter on about the private details of your business to your clients, that information will be shared with others, perhaps even people you don't want it shared with. If you gossip about one client to another client, you will eventually also be the topic of gossip.
2. Do not speak ill of your competition. Again this habit speaks volumes about your level of professionalism. I don't care if the store across town is owned by the wicked witch of the west with two heads and if she runs her car over your dog... if you open your mouth to speak ill of her around your clients, it will get back to her. There's nothing more childish and unprofessional than "the war between the stores"...and clients always get caught in the crossfire. The solution to this problem is very simple: Do not participate.
3. Do not lie to your clients.
I should not have to say this, but I am. If you can't be honest with your client, you need professional help. If you forgot to order a certain product, just say so. If you aren't going to restock something that has already sold out, just say so. Go the extra mile to be honest and forthright with your clients. If a client calls you to ask if you carry XYZ paper, you should check to be sure that you actually have that paper in stock before saying "yes". Common sense...that is not so common.
Don't fool yourself into thinking that your clients are not as knowledgeable about this industry as you are. I have seen this happen so many times and it is so disappointing. A few years ago, it happened to me personally and I found it completely rattling. I was visiting a store in another state for the first time. I asked the store owner "do you have any paper by Scenic Route?" Her answer to me was "No. We used to carry their paper, but they closed."
As a loyal, deeply committed user of Scenic Route, I *knew* that this was not accurate information. (Remember, this was a few years ago.) What was the harm in just saying "no, we don't"?
Just be honest.
4. Be willing to educate your clients.
Practice giving a short (I said short) introduction to scrapbooking lesson so that when a new client enters your store and says those magic words "I've never done this before but I want to start..." you are prepared to give them the basics in understandable terms. When you are talking to someone who's new to the world of scrapbooking, don't use lingo, brand names and abbreviations. A person who's never created a scrapbooking probably isn't going to know what you are talking about when you say "do you use a post-bound or strap hinge album?" Be prepared to show your new clients the difference on the spot. Asking "have you seen a Cuttlebug?" is going to make your new scrapbooker look at you as if you have two heads.
You, the professional scrapbook store owner, should be able to give a short introduction to scrapbooking to anyone who comes into your store. Educating your potential clients is always in your best interest. Always.
5. Remember, scrapbookers are *visual* people by nature.
You might be able to explain something using only words...but showing it *will* sell it. If a client asks you "what's embossing?", show them. Demonstrate it. When there's a new tool sitting on your shelf, that no one has expressed interest in purchasing, you can bet it's probably because they don;t know what it's for. Educate your clients! Tool features...will sell tools! If you sell Quickutz dies and tools, you should be prepared, willing, even eager to show off the Quickutz die cutting system to anyone who will listen.
Set up a table...call it the tool table (make a sign) and let your clients know that this is the place to learn something new every time they come into your store! Keep the featured tool fresh and the project that demonstrates the uses of the tool simple.
6. Make a sign! For everything.
See #5...scrapbookers are visually-oriented people. Use a basic word processing program to print signs that are informative, easy-to-read and neat. Choose a font that is attractive and **readable** and print your signs on nice paper. Check for spelling errors often.
Number 6-10 coming tomorrow.