Customers regularly ask us how we choose our stock. We use a variety of methods and I can honestly say that I look at stock 7 days a week, either on line, from catalogs, showrooms, samples and also from visits from reps. Then of course we also attend Trade Fairs a few times a year. In a fortnight we are off to Melbourne for a few days to go to the largest trade event in Australia. We generally devote 4 days each, to the February fair in Sydney and August in Melbourne. I plan on taking lots of photos in Melbourne of our adventure and will update you when we get back.
As to what is in the shop, we work hard at trying to keep a few core lines as well as a range of products that change, so there is always something tempting for our regular customers. When we go to the trade fair, I usually find far more than I can ever afford, so I keep a wish list and as I need new things I usually bring them in from that list. Anything new I usually start with small quantities to see how it is received, then increase the range if it is popular. We try a lot of things at home first – if I am going to recommend something I want to know it is good, (quality for price).
Keeping the shop looking fresh and different takes a lot of time & work and I am usually planning a month ahead at a time. Exclusivity is essential to us, as we don’t want to have things you can find in another shop in town, we also want to be unique within the Southern Highlands too.. a shop that becomes a destination because you never know what you might find.
Before we go to the fair I know ahead of time what product ranges I want to increase, for example our card range is about to triple. That’s the only secret I am giving away though! The best way to keep up with new products is via social media as I usually get photos up as soon as I can. We are about to unpack a much wider range of books, cookbooks in the kitchen, some lovely books for men, as well as the usual kids range, as they have been popular as add on gifts.
We are constantly evolving and adapting because when I open the door to the shop in the morning, I want to feel as excited about being there as a customer walking in the door for the first time. Looking back at photos we have taken it is really interesting to see how the shop has changed – who knows what we will find next!