How To Start and Operate Your Own

By Dusty and Bonnie Henson, Owners "World Famous" El Paso Saddleblanket Co., El Paso, TX

Free Catalog
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Chapter XI


The most effective advertising and promotion you can do is the presentation of the merchandise in your store.

This is called "merchandising." How you display products is important, but don't stop there. Even more important are the signs you use to name, describe and price your products.

When a customer picks up a small, coarsely fabricated square decorated with a primitive figure, it would be more saleable if an accompanying sign read "Genuine Sand painting handmade by Navajo Indians". Unique items of cultural significance rarely need to be discounted. The supply is limited and competition is small, so take a favorable mark up.

Let me emphasize again that the majority of "Southwest" goods are handmade in relatively small quantities. When consumers shop for items of adornment and decoration, they have no preconceived notion of fair market value as they would for a quart of milk or laundry detergent. Because objects of art are not necessities of life, people will pay in accordance to how much the item satisfies their needs for personal glorification. Take higher markups on limited available merchandise. Run discounts on T-shirts, inexpensive blankets, and pottery.

It is effective merchandising to always be running a scale on something.

Take, for instance, jewelry. There is something inherent in the jewelry trade that requires a discount no matter how good your regular price is. Always mark jewelry up enough to accommodate a perpetual discount. It's how the game is played so get used to it and don't swim upstream.

Legitimate markdowns should be taken on merchandise that has stayed on the shelf too long-- "close outs". Try a minimal discount at first, then deep discount the remains. Although you don't benefit from a full profit margin, you are turning goods into cash flow that can be reinvested in faster moving merchandise.

Signs that call attention to your discounts are:

        "Over Stock Sale"

        "Close Outs"

        "Unadvertised Special"

        "Manager Special"

        "End of Season Sale"


One highly recommended sign is:

           "We ship anywhere"

You may think it's a bother to pack and ship for customers, but once you get organized, it's no trouble at all and you can make a little extra profit on the packing. Remember, it might have been a no sale if you didn't offer the service. Travelers with a plane to catch don't want to bother with bulky items or something that might get crushed in the overhead bin. They will pay extra to have the merchandise shipped to their home or office. It's also another way to collect names for your mailing list.

Gift-wrapping is another nice customer service but it takes a little more time, skill, and nicer boxes than merely shipping a purchase to a customer. Gift wrap, bows, ribbons, clean white boxes, and tissue will be required. Charge accordingly to make a little profit on your time and materials. This is certainly an "extra". Don't feel obligated to provide this service unless you have a knack for it or feel this is a specific demand among your customers.

Merchandising also includes all the signs in your store for information, direction, product description and pricing.

Don't make customers ask the price of merchandise. Everything should be clearly marked.

Signs throughout your store should look professional and have a consistent image. Avoid childish attempts to be cute. Signs need to be clean, clear, bold and to the point.

Individual pricing is the most common system of marking merchandise, but don't forget to add sales suggestions like 2 for $25.00 or 3 for $33.00. A little suggestion can double or triple the sale and you have only given up a minimal amount.

Bargain tables can be effective means of moving out items you think have been in stock too long. You can sacrifice your whole profit on some merchandise just to create excitement and increase your cash flow. Customers will appreciate the good deal and probably buy something else as well.


Updated 2001
© 2001. El Paso Saddleblanket. All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced without the written permission of
El Paso Saddleblanket Co.

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