Make Profit Your Holiday Mantra

Editor’s Note: Economic pundits predict dire times ahead for this holiday season. But antiques and collectibles dealers may improve sales by following Jim Sturgill’s common-sense advice.

Today’s business reports are doom and gloom and then more gloom. News stories warn that Christmas buying will be bad and won’t pull us out of the economic morass. We are doomed.

This is despite the Wal-Mart lines (and that tragedy of the worker being trampled to death by overeager shoppers pushing to get in) and the crowds in Target. All of this is being reported. What is being overlooked by the media is the steady stream of folks in and out of antiques shops.

Here in my hometown, antique shops had a respectable Black Friday uptick in traffic. Today, I stopped at a family-owned shop to buy my wife an antique necklace. The owner and I discussed the economy and world affairs as his wife decided which necklace I would buy. During the discussion, I told him of the Pfaltzgraff store where my wife shopped on Saturday. Pfaltzgraff is closing all its retail outlets, and certain retailing tricks can be learned about reducing inventory and increasing cash flow by observing Pfaltzgraff’s methods.

Pfaltzgraff is in the liquidation mode, and our antiques shops are in the sell-and-cash-flow mode. Here are things that may help your sales:

1. Keep the items you want to really move at eye level.
2. Keep the store clean and all lights on.
3. Welcome all who come in.
4. A “thank you” to all who leave even those who don’t buy anything.
5. Don’t clutter aisles.
6. Don’t place similar items together—spread them through the store.
7. Discount those items that have taken up shelf space for years.
8. Buy this and get that for half-price (or whatever—just maintain your overall margin).
9. Don’t let consignment items overwhelm your own inventory.
10. Keep a watchful eye. Thieves are here and everywhere.

A little effort will increase Christmas sales. Profit should always be your mantra.

– Jim Sturgill is a director of WorthPoint and founding partner of Sturgill & Associates LLP, a DC and Baltimore area CPA firm.

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