by Natalie Tan
A wise man once said that when one door closes, another one opens. This was indeed the case for Eric and Ian of Christmas Traditions. When Woodwards Department Store shut its business down in 1994, both were out of a job. Eric was the Visual Presentation Manager and Ian held two positions as Store Manager and Company Operations Manager.
It was then that this dynamic duo joined forces and began Christmas Traditions. Their vision was to create a happy place for customers to shop and get inspired. They wanted a shop that delivered exceptional customer service wherein the refund policy is set in a way that makes everyone satisfied. In the beginning, they operated several year-round shops in Metro Vancouver. However, it was not long when they realized that most of their earnings came on the last quarter of the year. Though sales are lower with a seasonal pop-up their expenses were also low resulting in better profits.
The big differentiation between their shops and their competitors is that they have a greater selection of specialty items that lent itself perfectly well with the concept of ‘stores within a store’. They have one for children, women and men. They take pride in their selection of men’s gifts since this category is underserved in the marketplace. In fact, this sparks interest in couples to shop the store and it is not uncommon to hear males say “I’m going to look at the guy’s section” while the woman or partner is left undisturbed to shop the other sections.
Their pop-up at Tsawwassen Mills recently opened and already their layout and display set-up is proving to be a success. Their themed sections consist of women’s, kids, man cave, pet, specialty foods and candy, Christmas crackers, tree toppers and lights, tight category groupings of candles and trees to ensure an effective selling space.
Natalie Tan from Retail Excellence has over 25 years in specialty retailing, offering her expertise to malls, retail shops and airport operators. She teaches Merchandising and Display Strategies at the BCIT School of Business and has served as a member of Retail BC's Board of Directors, as well as on the board of the BC Shopping Centres Association.
She is the author of "Ready, Set, Sell", an easy-to-implement guide to small business owners and a book currently used by her students. Natalie has been featured in several publications and is often called by the CBC for her expert perspective on current retail issues.
Effective Retail Strategies Designed to Move Your Merchandise
In this regular column, we explore retail strategies that are not only easy to implement but also aim to sell the merchandise. This will provide you with opportunities to view your own store in a different light and discover new ways to present your merchandise. Ultimately, our goal is to increase your sales. So let us know when you have applied one of the strategies featured here and yielded desirable results in your store — we’d love to hear success stories.