The other week a customer rang me up from Sainsbury’s and asked me if I was still selling three-litre bottles of Jack Daniel’s. When I told him I was he shouted out in the aisle then and there “you want to get down to Londis in Blean – they sell these in three litres”.
I had four people who actually came in specifically because of this and mentioned what he’d done. I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to promote the shop this way myself, but it did give me the idea that I should stock more items that people can’t find in other shops.
I’m selling big bottles of Smirnoff now too and I want to find more novelty products to sell throughout the shop so we build a reputation for stocking things that are different.
I’d like to do some speciality chocolate, especially as Easter and Mother’s Day are coming up. I’ve been speaking to a local supplier about Easter eggs and cakes.
There are so many products available to all shops that we need to be able to pick things that will make us stand out. This supplier does personalised cakes and can theme them for birthdays, for car racing or golf enthusiasts, for example.
I want to see how I could fit these into the store. They would cost me £6-£7 and I could sell them for £9-£12.
Specialist chocolate is risky though. It’s a question of getting stock levels right so you add to the effect of occasions like Mother’s Day without having mountains of stock left over afterwards.
I didn’t do much for Easter last year. This year I’d like to involve the two schools near to us and I’m thinking of running an Easter egg hunt in-store. It would give both parents and kids a reason to come in and I’m planning to place the eggs near special promotions I’ll put on so that as the kids are hunting, the adults will see these offers.
I might include a few adult prizes too such as special offers on bread and milk to prove that we offer good value. If it works, I might repeat it for Halloween and hide buckets of skulls around the shop.
The other thing I’m looking at at the moment is my magazine range.
The Bestsellers feature that RN produces each year are awesome and I’m using the magazine ranking lists to get my range organised. At the moment I stock around 150 magazines and I’m trying to decide whether to extend this and stock the top 10 or all magazines in each sector.
But I’ve found that what I think will sell is not always what my customers want, so I’m going to make photocopies of the article and give them out to my customers. I will ask them to mark up which magazines they read and which they’d like to read and return them to me.
Showing the list of magazines I can get from Menzies to my business customers has already helped me to sell around 55 more magazines a week. The supermarkets do a general range, but magazines can give you great margins and I want to do more with them.