The holidays are approaching and I find it a shame that many major retailers (Kmart being the latest with an opening time before 9 AM on Thanksgiving day) are now using Thanksgiving as a cash machine instead of letting their employees honor their time with friends and family. I’ll be really impressed when the senior executives at these retail establishments join their employees on the front line during any of these holidays. For many store owners, the six week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas becomes the major boost to their yearly income. While baseball card sales are down, there is no reason a good store owner should not take advantage of the heavier sales period.
One promotion store owners can do is to create a “Secret Santa” agreement between his customers and then block off a time, preferably an evening to which these gifts can be exchanged between his customers. I know that my local store has not done this although I did suggest this idea to him. Again, while he has a clique of about 10 people who trade (not every week) between themselves each Wednesday evening, this could widen the group of interested collectors as well as let his customers feel as if he is giving something back. And this need not be limited to the “regulars”. Anyone can join as long as they honor the rules. I have already signed up for three Secret Santas on various hobby chat boards and I would certainly do that at my local store as well. After all, especially for what I love to do in this hobby as it comes to opening product, this would really become a pack busting party.
And of course, it is always good to see some hobby people also use these times to make sales. While I don’t buy boxes or cases over the Internet, Blowout Cards has famously run a “Black Friday” promotion for years. Other companies that do Black Friday promotions include Panini, who offers their store owners various incentives to sell and increase their product line for that day as well as COMC which has a “Black Friday” sale which runs throughout the weekend. I have already signed up for the promotion and unlike in 2012, all my sales will be at the discounted rate. If you remember last year, COMC was still using their Check Out My Cards site and about 25 percent of my sales during the holiday weekend were to clients who did not take advantage of the discount. I was shocked then and still surprised a year later about that circumstance.
The other aspect is to create a festive atmosphere in a store. I was shocked one year when I went into Nick’s and he had a menorah prominently displayed. When I asked him, he answered, my first year I noticed a drop off among my Jewish clientele during Chanukah and was informed that was a retail mistake. As an FYI, there is a very heavy Jewish population near Nick’s store. From that point on, he always has made it a point not only to recognize Chanukah but all the other major Jewish holidays as he realizes those days are very important to his customers. The store nearest my house (Triple Cards, Plano TX) runs some specials where the first box is full price and then the second box is half off. I wonder if he would be able to reduce his merchandise and just sell boxes one at a time for the average price of the two boxes. What I mean is that is the first box is $64.95 and the second box is $32.95 why not just make each box $49.95 and see if that really gooses up sales. In my opinion, that is worth a shot if you are really wanting to reduce inventory. And this can even be promoted as weekly revolving holiday store specials.. Or prices can be lowered for Black Friday or the whole weekend just as COMC does.
The other aspect of the holidays is at Beckett we used the holiday season for many years to promote “Cards for Kids”. I have estimated over the years we gave away possibly up to a half million cards solely from Beckett employees. While the holiday season is a great time to give back to the community, that give back should not be limited to the time before Christmas. Instead many places, such as the Ronald McDonald House can use items such as cards all year long as children need help all year round.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]