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SKU naming convention – recommendations how it should work?! I try to use a descriptive name in case a tag gets lost etc. Also, since I operate hand-to-mouth I may only buy one or a just few of something each time. Many things are the same but different (earrings, journals, scarves, headbands, baskets…). Or they’re one-of-a-kind which makes it harder to have a unique name.

KEVIN:  You want to be sure you have a POS system that gives you plenty of data points to enter in all of the necessary data for properly tracking sales of every individual SKU in your inventory. You will need: your item number, vendor SKU, item description, country, artisan group, size, color, season, month received

How do you deal with inventory that just doesn’t sell?

(1) This is a very personal choice. I am not a huge fan of sales or sale sections. Most of us are operating in small retail spaces (500-2500 sq ft). Our goal is to do as much in sales per sq ft as possible so every sq ft is critical to maximize sales. On an annual

your take/experience on purely Fair Trade items vs mix of FT and other hand-made items from both US artisans and international artisans – is there a benefit to either or other comments you may have

(1) This is always a bit of a touchy subject. There are many shops that ONLY buy from FTF or WFTO members and I think that is great. Many shops are also part of small communities that have strong independent local artisan populations. I personally don’t see anything wrong with a hybrid shop that sells

When conducting an End-of-Year Inventory (and your inventory is bar coded). Any recommendations for a hand-held portable bar-code-reader that allows you to scan inventory and can be dumped into an Excel spreadsheet as opposed to doing a manual inventory?

(1) Some POS systems allow you to do this but they tend to be the more advanced ones. I am kind of old school and think there is great value in literally counting every widget in your shop. It is your bi-annual chance to find items that are damaged or mis-tagged and allows for a

Here is another good question on product mix and really gets to the heart of why inventory control is critical: I would prefer to carry higher end FT items (home accessories, personal accessories and jewelry) rather than the ethnic market mix seen in many FT stores. Do you know of any successful stores with such a mix of items and your comments on this approach?

(1) Again, you will just have to test your market and see what it can bear. Our store, Momentum started out with the same goal and we had to over time move our price points down. We still maintained a higher than normal avg price point and higher-end level but had to respond to customer

(From Ganesh Himal) I know I am not a retailer but….Kevin! My question to you is “as someone who works in Nepal, how can I convey to our customers the amazing difficulty that the producers are going through without it sounding like we are making excuses, over and over again! I want them to know how hard everyone is working to get their orders done but that the situation is extremely difficult…. Hope that makes sense!

  Kevin Natapow   That is a tough one- as a former retailer I know that we want to get our merchandise in as quickly as possible and be able to make those critical sales not only for our own store, but for our great wholesale partners and ultimately the artisans. Something that may be

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