• November 27, 2014

Things local retailers should do for happy holidays

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Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 7:02 pm, Sun Nov 10, 2013.

Truly Texas, a gift shop in the Killeen Mall, started making plans in January for an additional 1,900-square-foot holiday store, which opened Thursday.

“We set up an additional holiday store every year,” said Terri Baumann, owner of Truly Texas. “We do it for the space, and so that we can bring in more product.”

According to the National Retail Federation, sales during November and December will be $602.1 billion across the United States. The federation also said the average holiday shopper this year will spend $737.95 on gifts, decor, greeting cards and additional holiday items, pointing to a consumer spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

To capture some of that revenue, Baumann began planning after the New Year’s holiday. She began with reviewing store sales from the previous holiday season, followed by initial ordering, selecting an additional location and planning holiday marketing.

It is a practice other retailers and service businesses should follow during the holiday shopping season, Baumann said.

“In the retail business, this is the time to be prepared for Christmas,” said Betty Price, the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau president. “And for small businesses, we encourage them to have found out what items they want to sell. This is their time to plan what their extended hours are going to be.”

People who shop used to start two or three weeks before Christmas, but that

is no longer true, especially with the uncertainty in the economy, said Bill Kozlik, Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce president. Many people start shopping after Halloween; some shop year-round.

Because people are looking to save, they want options, Kozlik said. Small businesses that sell items larger retailers offer, either online or in the store, should find some some way to compete with them.

Baumann said her store tries not to compete with the bigger stores by offering items those stores don’t.

Kozlik and Price said local stores’ holiday success often depends on effective marketing.

They should have some form of online presence, too, because most shoppers will probably start there, Kozlik said.

Businesses can enlist the help of their local chambers of commerce to help promote sales, extended hours and other specials, Price said.

“Those are the things that we encourage people to tell us about, so we can make the public aware of it, too,” Price said.

Chambers can place that marketing material and specials on their websites and also promote them through social media, Price and Kozlik said.

American Express conducts Small Business Saturday, a campaign to drive shoppers to local retailers.

Several retailers participate in it, Price said. The Cove chamber is recruiting some local businesses to participate.

Getting shopping traffic

Smaller stores can attract some people who shop at bigger stores, such as Target, Walmart and Best Buy, Kozlik said.

“The shoppers are going to be out and about and you need to get their attention,” said Liz Sherman, the Cove Chamber vice president. “You do need to do something to attract them to come in.”

That could be something as simple as putting up some decorations, Price said.

“You can’t just sit back for people to come to your door and knock,” Kozlik said.

For Truly Texas, marketing includes heading out to the Fort Hood Officers’ Spouses Bazaar and other community events.

“Any exposure is good for a store, and if it benefits a nonprofit group, that is awesome,” she said.

Baumann said she and her husband worked nights and weekends since Oct. 15 to prepare Truly Texas’ holiday store for Thursday’s opening.

Recently, the Baumanns traveled to Mullin, Rogers and Goldthwaite to get some of the store’s unique items.

“It is a lot of stress, because we triple our space, and also triple our staff,” Baumann said. “But if you don’t plan ahead, you wouldn’t be able to (have good holiday sales).”

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