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TNNA Survey Says: How Is Your Needlepoint Store Doing?

Posted By India Hart Wood, Hart Business Research, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

TNNA Survey Says is a biweekly series of articles featuring useful business advice based upon the TNNA State of Specialty NeedleArts 2016 surveys of more than 15,000 fiber artists, retailers, and wholesalers.

Financial Benchmarks for Needlepoint Retailers

Wise people go to the doctor for a checkup every so often. Wise business owners check the health of their business compared with benchmarks for the industry. Use the following table to understand how your retail needlepoint businesses is doing compared with others. Needlepoint stores in 2015 typically had sales of $205,000, inventory valued at $145,250, a sales floor of 1,445 square feet, and sales per square foot of $188. Stores reported 73% grew and 59% were profitable. How did your business do?

If you’re doing better than most, pat yourself on the back and keep up the success. If you are not doing as well as most and would like to have an income from your business, kick yourself into making some changes. Look at the other TNNA Survey Says blog posts for ideas about store features, marketing, product trends and selection, and adding more value to your business.

Summary of financial data for needlepoint retailers:

Benchmark

Needlepoint retailers, 2015

Gross annual sales

Median (typical store) $205,000

56% more than $200,000

16% $50,000 or less

Sales growth

73% increased

2% no change

25% decreased

Profitable

59% yes

41% no

Profit margin

= profit divided by gross sales

15% median

 

Owner income from store

(salary, distribution, or dividend)

68% yes

32% no

Spending with suppliers per year

$65,000 median

Inventory value

(12-month average, at cost)

$145,250 median

Inventory turn

= sales/(inventory value x markup)

0.76

Retail sales floor size

1,445 square feet, median

Sales per square foot

$188 median

(in-store sales only)

Data from multiple questions on TNNA 2016 Needle Arts Retailer Survey. Much more detail is available in the Needlepoint Retailer Survey Results Report.

  • Source: TNNA 2016 Needlepoint Retailer Survey Results
  • Freshness: Retailers surveyed February 23 to March 28, 2016.
  • Respondents: 325 yarn retailers, 41 needlepoint retailers, and 27 counted thread retailers

More information: http://www.tnna.org/?Survey2016

 

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Are you prepared to change with the times?

Posted By Beth Casey, Lorna's Laces , Tuesday, August 30, 2016

As they say, “The times they are a changing.” This is true for wholesalers, retailers and even trade organizations. For me, as a wholesaler and proud TNNA member, they seem to be changing almost as fast as I can think. At times, it can seem overwhelming.

For many years, our planning process revolved around two big events: the summer and winter trade shows. We thought about what new yarns to bring in, what new colors to produce, and what models would pique a shop owner's interest. We circled the dates on the calendar in big red letters and worked feverishly to make sure everything was done by then.

I'll bet many of you worked the much same way. You'd find out what was new at market and then build your plan around that. It used to be that consumers looked to shops for the latest and greatest. They trusted their local shop and went to them for answers. Your customers would buy what you bought, they'd learn what you'd learned. And all was right with the world.

Well, that idea almost seems quaint today. Shops aren't the sole source for ideas, inspiration, and supplies. Consumers are looking to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Newsletters and emails come from you, newsletters and emails come from me. Ads are pushed at us every time we turn on our computers. Today’s consumer is bombarded, inspired and informed more than ever before.

Who do they think of when they see all these messages? Is it you? Can they see a post and know that their local shop can help them sort through the clutter and even bring these items to them? If not, how do we make that happen? How do we make ourselves the first thing they think of when they think of stitching? How can we get them to think globally and act locally?

Certainly trade shows are a big part of TNNA’s plan. They are where the rubber has always met the road in terms of keeping wholesalers and retailers connected, but we need to think in terms of an ongoing conversation with our members and continue that conversation downstream to the knitter, weaver, needlepointer and cross stitcher. We need to come together to engage all of them 365 days a year.

I have my thoughts and will share some here, but I am no expert. To paraphrase Julia Roberts, “I’m just a girl, selling some yarn and asking consumers to love her.”

Here are a few of my ideas, but I would love to hear some of yours. I can use help sorting through these crazy days too.

The first place I encourage everyone to start is the image they project both online and off.

When was the last time you updated your website? You may not want to get into the ecommerce game, but your website should look up-to-date, fresh and be easy to navigate. For many people, it is how you make your first impression. You probably spend lots of time planning your shop window; your online window is just as important. Have you made it easy for them to find you? I can't tell you how often I've had to drill down on a site to find a street address or phone number. People will move on if we don’t make it easy. When I think about our website I put myself in the position of someone coming to the site. I think about what they want to find, not necessarily what I want to sell.

Have you thought about getting products exclusive to you and your customers? It’s a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition. A definitive yarn color. A special put up of yarn. A limited edition canvas. Many vendors will create custom goods exclusive to you for your clients, all you have to do is ask.

How about creating events around those custom products? Maybe a club? Clubs are a great way to bring a captive audience into your shop over and over. Starting a club with exclusive items can keep customers coming in repeatedly. Likely as not, once they are there, they will buy more than just the club offering.

How about Stitch-A-Longs? They bring people into the shop many times over the course of a project, too. People like to work together. We talk about community all of the time and this is a wonderful way to build yours.

Are you playing nice with your neighbors? Shop crawls create excitement for everyone in the area and have been all the rage lately. You should get involved with one if you can. However, I recognize they don’t work for everyone. Are you too far away from other stitching shops to make a traditional crawl make sense? What about partnering with other kinds of shops? Our neighborhood in Chicago hosted a Soup Walk (http://www.lakevieweast.com/soup-walk/) in February. Nine restaurants gave away soup tastings in nine local shops. We walked from shop to shop, tasting soup on a cold February afternoon. Even though I’ve lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade, I discovered a couple of gems that I patronize regularly now. The Mushroom Barley Soup from The Bagel has become a staple of our weekend menu.

You'll be introduced to lots of new customers who otherwise might not have found you.

These are just a few ideas that I have and am playing with, but no conversation should be one sided. I would love to hear what you are doing or thinking of doing. If we share ideas maybe we can find a new path together.

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TNNA Survey Says: Financial Benchmarks for Yarn Retailers

Posted By India Hart Wood, Hart Business Research, Tuesday, August 30, 2016

TNNA Survey Says is a biweekly series of articles featuring useful business advice based upon the TNNA State of Specialty NeedleArts 2016 surveys of more than 15,000 fiber artists, retailers, and wholesalers.

TNNA Survey

Financial Benchmarks for Yarn Retailers

Wise people go to the doctor for a checkup every so often. Wise business owners check the health of their business compared with benchmarks for the industry. Use the following table to understand how your retail yarn businesses is doing compared with others. Yarn stores in 2015 typically had sales of $125,000, inventory valued at $75,000, a sales floor of 1,025 square feet, and sales per square foot of $95. Half grew and half were profitable. How did your business do?

If you’re doing better than most, pat yourself on the back and keep up the success. If you are not doing as well as most and would like to have an income from your business, kick yourself into making some changes. Look at the other TNNA Survey Says blog posts for ideas about store features, marketing, product trends and selection, and adding more value to your business.

Summary of financial data for yarn retailers:

Benchmark

Yarn retailers, 2015

Gross annual sales

Median (typical store) $125,000
29% more than $200,000
25% $50,000 or less
Range: $25,000 to $10 million+

Sales growth

48% increased
11% no change
41% decreased

Profitable

50% yes
50% no

Profit margin
= profit divided by gross sales

16% median

 

Owner income from store
(salary, distribution, or dividend)

54% yes
46% no

Spending with suppliers per year

$49,000 median

Inventory value
(12-month average, at cost)

$75,000 median

Inventory turn
= sales/(inventory value x markup)

0.99

Retail sales floor size

1,025 square feet, median

Sales per square foot

$95 median
(in-store sales only)


Data from multiple questions on TNNA 2016 Needle Arts Retailer Survey. Much more detail is available in the Yarn Retailer Survey Results Report.

  • Source: TNNA 2016 Yarn Retailer Survey Results
  • Freshness: Retailers surveyed February 23 to March 28, 2016.
  • Respondents: 325 yarn retailers, 41 needlepoint retailers, and 27 counted thread retailers

More information: http://www.tnna.org/?Survey2016

Tags:  TNNA Survey Says 

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No Time Like the Present: Get involved with TNNA

Posted By Dale Lenci, DJ Designs & Luv2Stitch, Monday, August 29, 2016

As they say, the times are a changin’, and now is the time to get involved. TNNA is a member-driven organization and the more you get involved, the better we all fare. If you choose to participate with TNNA on the leadership level, an added benefit you’ll reap is the increase of understanding you’ll have for each respective product segment and the members that make up those groups.

Looking back as I finish my term on the board, I leave with a better understanding of how similar and how unique we all are. I have also become a better business person from this experience. The more active you become in TNNA, the stronger your relationships with other members become. Personal relationships are a key factor in the success and future of any businesses, not just at the customer level, but also at a peer level, too. Making connections with the other business owners in TNNA is a great way to get advice, find a mentor, or just commiserate with other people who understand what this business is all about.

As TNNA moves into its next chapter, the opportunities for our trade organization with SmithBucklin are going to set us up for a whole new level of success. The resources and services of SmithBucklin are just amazing, and I’m excited to see where this partnership leads.

Now is your time to become part of this new dynamic team. TNNA, with the assistance of SmithBucklin, will be the strongest leader in the needlearts industry. I encourage you to take this time and get involved. Bring your creative skills to this new team by participating at some level.


The easiest way to get involved is to find out how you can volunteer within your product segment group. Contact your product segment chair and see how your gifts can be best utilized.


See a need you think you can help fill? Contact our executive director at
gbortner@tnna.org and share your ideas.

Feel free to reach out if you have questions about how to get involved!

Dale Lenci

DJ Designs & Luv2Stitch

650-303-0714

Past President of TNNA

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Creating a compelling store layout that will attract, engage and retain your customer

Posted By Kevin Kissell, Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Today we’re delighted to be visited by Kevin Kissell, who has some tips on creating a merchandising plan in your store to attract customers and increase sales.

Understanding store layout and visual merchandising is crucial in today’s competitive retail market – and something that independent retailers need to do well in order to have a successful store. The look and feel of your store is almost more important that what you are selling. The purpose of good store design and visual merchandising is to create an environment that attracts customers. The more you captivate their curiosity, the more time they will spend in the store. The more time they spend in the store, the more likely they are to make a purchase. To achieve good store design requires knowledge behind the science of shopping, a little creativity, and the willingness to be objective.

Often times your customer’s store experience happens before they even step foot inside your store. This two-part blog series will challenge you, the storeowner, to objectively observe your store from the front entrance all the way to the back wall. By posing questions, we will formulate solutions for many consistent issues within a brick and mortar store. We will discuss basic visual merchandising strategies that will help you develop a set of design codes that will keep your store exciting and visually appealing.

It is important to mention that within store layout and visual merchandising, there are controllable and non-controllable elements. For instance, we probably cannot control our store architecture or the placement of the front door.  We do, however, have control of window displays, fixtures, creative elements, product and placement of things within the store. We can also control the customer’s experience while they are inside your walls.

The parking lot… Literally.
As mentioned above, the store experience generally happens before you even step foot inside the door. Let’s have some honest dialogue. How easy is it to get to your store? Is there ample parking? How is your parking lot? Is it easy to enter and exit? Is it nicely paved? Does it have ADA compliant ramps and handicap parking spaces? How is your store situated in relation to parking? Many of these factors are probably non-controllable to you the storeowner. Research has proven that your in-store experience is affected by the ease or frustration of your commute and ability to park and/or find parking. That being said, if your parking lot is difficult to navigate or your store is not easily accessible then you have an opportunity to make your store more comfortable and more inviting.

The front of your store.
The first thing customers see are your windows. This is your chance to educate, attract, and woo that customer into your store. Paco Underhill, proclaimed Retail Anthropologist and founder of Envirosell Inc., uses the adage “Give Good Window.” Well? Have you? Take a moment and observe the front façade. Is your architecture inviting? Do you have adequate and easily readable signage? Do you have appropriate lighting? Do you have the opportunity to display floral planters beside your doors? Are your windows free from clutter? Are your windows communicating a good visual story? Think of small things that you can do to brighten up the exterior of your store.

What do we see in those windows? How are you communicating your store to the general public? Many times small retailers eagerly show everything the have to offer in one very overcrowded window display, or maybe some sort of lackluster grouping of products.
Your windows are the first part of your story. This is how you tell people about your brand and what you carry inside the store – so reinforce a theme. How can you use principles and elements of design (color, line, form, repetition, etc.), font, creative artwork, or product to tie your windows to the environment inside? This is the time for clarity in your message and to avoid confusing passersby. What you communicate in the window is precisely what should be available inside. If I am fun and creative on the outside, I need to be fun and creative on the inside. 

Window displays should be creative, organized, free of clutter, and nicely presented. Think about creating focal points and eye movement around the window display. Add lighting for more visual appeal.


Inside the front door.
The first thing people need when they enter your store is to acclimate to your environment. They will be taking their sunglasses off, or removing coats, and their senses are adjusting to lighting, scent, and sound. There is a lot of stuff going on! Give customers room to do this. The first five feet to ten feet is known as the Decompression Zone. This is where people are taking in everything about your store; how it smells, how it sounds and how it is packaged. In other words, people are noticing your décor – walls, floors, colors, lighting, fixtures, signage and creative elements. Your job is to create ‘the perfect storm’ – everything must work together to tell a cohesive story.

Many times retailers will crowd the front door with new product and signage and people welcoming you with special offers and coupons. Frustrating, right? What people really want is a chance to take everything in and take a breath. Therefore, dedicate at least five feet for a decompression zone.

Stay tuned - next week we’ll post part 2 of Kevin’s blog series, where he’ll take you deeper into the store and continue a plan for layout and merchandising. Remember - you don’t have to do every little thing outlined in this article - even just one or two small tweaks can make a big difference in your merchandising! What improvements will you make this week?

Kevin Kissell, MFA, is an Instructor in the Department of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University. His research interests include store design, visual merchandising, and textile design. Prior to entering higher education he accrued over fifteen years of visual merchandising experience.

Tags:  retail 

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