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My question is related to bulking up on best-sellers??? When my available funds were tight, I decided to invest more in basic stock rather than holiday specific. Now, regardless of available funds, my tendency is to focus more on gift items instead of carrying over ornaments etc. to next year. Yes there is a risk I will be short or run out of holiday. The last couple of years I have had to sell a little buy a little right up to the end and this year will be the same. Because I am doing that dance, I really believe I need to buy what speaks to a larger audience. What is your advice related to my being willing to sacrifice holiday specific for general inventory please?

  Kevin Natapow   This relates to the earlier question about managing seasonal inventory. Again, before placing any holiday orders run a “best seller report” from January- August (typically 50% of annual sales but will depend on your individual sales percentages) by profit and determine which items make up top 20% of sales. Ideally, this

How do you balance the inventory this time of year? Especially wondering if there is a “cut-off date” for holiday re-orders. We don’t want to be stuck with too much at the end of December, but also don’t want to be short stocked!

  Kevin Natapow   Balancing inventory during the holidays can be challenging and needs a lot of attention so you are not under/over inventoried. First off, assuming you do item evaluation in August/September and physical inventory as well and have cleaned everything up in terms of what is un-orderable and removed from the floor and all

How many items per square feet?

  Kevin Natapow   1.7 SKU’s per square feet is the general rule of thumb. For example if your sales floor (not your entire shop sq ft) is 1,000 sq ft you would ideally want around 1,700 individual SKU’s. Again, this is a goal and we often crept upwards of 1900-2000 and would get it

How important is customer service to my stores overall success?

  Kevin Natapow   HUGE- many of you who have seen my presentation at FTF or elsewhere know that I put a huge emphasis on location (50% of your success) but that should be an easy one, which is another discussion. Customer service, and inventory control, which plays heavily into your customers overall experience are

We currently identify products as being one of several different categories, such as food, lifestyle, home dec (which is broken down further into subcategories), etc. Does anyone have suggestions for useful segmentation – how many categories, or what they should be? Which categories are universal best sellers, if such a thing even exists?

KEVIN: What is most important is to see how each SKU does on its own merit, but it is good to have home accents, jewelry, accessories, bath and both, food, music, cards & stationary, kids clothing and toys, books, etc. You do not it much more broad than that and you should pay attention to

Is there such thing as too wide a scope for products? I try to maintain a mix of items and price points – sometimes I wonder if I am trying to do too much. People appreciate that I have a mix, so I think I am doing right. I want the store to be fresh for locals so they don’t always see the same things.

KEVIN: In terms of product mix, you always want to try and have something for everyone. Maybe you don’t carry clothing or some specific thing but it is good to have home accents, jewelry, accessories, bath and both, food, music, cards & stationary, kids clothing and toys, books, etc. Keeping things fresh is not so

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