And how could she not? It’s her job to decide what toys will be in the kids’ department.
You may not realize what a big deal it is to be the chooser of the toys. But I will say this to put it into perspective. We live in a small town, and often when you go to a birthday party you can tell from the familiar wrapping paper that over half of the gifts are from C.B. Fox. We have to get some new stuff in there otherwise kids will be able to guess what they got!
Plus, if people have been walking past the store window and things haven’t changed in a while, why go in?
The way she went about deciding how to spend the toy budget might help anyone who needs to decide what to put in their business’s window display.
First she used a household budget template to keep track of what she was spending money on, and categorized the different types of toys. She printed out purchase orders from the past year to get an idea of what people like to buy already. She loves going through sales data and said, “I was giddy when I got to pull these reports.”
Challenge your own assumptions
When she first started, there was a sad display of Nano Blocks. It was like the bottom of the barrel and she assumed that they weren’t very popular. But when she started to look into the reports, she noticed that Nano Blocks actually sold really fast, but she didn’t notice right away because they were categorized under “misc.”
Someone else didn’t think that the Klutz books were very popular for the same reason… the supply was dwindling. But once they restocked people bought them really quickly.
“I needed to get over my own biases,” said Allison. “For example, sparkles are hot right now and I am not a sparkle person. And then a mother and a daughter came in and they were disappointed that there weren’t any sparkly handbags in stock. So I was sure to order more of those things.”
Allison also had to admit that she was at first pretty biased against girly little toys like Calico Critters. But those are some of the best selling toys. (My daughters love them).
With my business, I think I know what people need but I’m probably wrong on several levels. That’s why I’m signed up to give a presentation for 1 Million Cups to ask a group of entrepreneurs for some feedback on what they really need because I don’t want to guess wrong.
Get to know the suppliers
Some of the decisions that she made came down to the policies of the suppliers. For example, one supplier required her to order the items in bulk and she didn’t have the room.
Look ahead for special events and tie-ins
Every spring there is a kite festival in Los Alamos, and that had her browsing through the kite catalog.
For any business, it is always a good idea to see what’s coming up on the calendar to see who you can partner up with, what holidays people will be celebrating, and what events you can line up with to bring more excitement to your business.
Anyway, I certainly enjoyed seeing Allison’s analytical approach to buying toys for the store.
I’m frequently in the process of evaluating and adjusting what I do for people. But I think that’s because everyone needs something different.
How do you go about deciding what products and services to offer in your business? Leave a comment and let me know.