By Jen Heller Meservey
Selling more gifts starts with stocking the right items, according to A Suraphong Liengboonlertchai, owner of Simplicity Décor in Kirkland, Wash. “I try my very best to find the most unique, trendy and inspiring items I could possibly find at tradeshows, or even when I travel for pleasure,” he said. “I always keep my eyes and ears open.”
Liengboonlertchai added that it’s best to look for items that you would want to buy. “Offer items that resonate with you personally,” he said. “If you believe in your products, you will sell more of them without trying to sell them.”
Tim Purcell, co-owner of Grapevine Farms in Cobleskill, N.Y., agreed that finding unique products helps sell more gifts. “We are always curating products that are unique to our area, that cannot be found at a ‘big box store,’ and we work very hard to stay on-trend with what we offer,” he said.
At Cross Eyed Owl Gift Shop in Valatie, N.Y., Owner Patti Varga, said that having a variety of different gifts is important. “Our inventory is always changing, and we make sure that we have a good mix of popular name brand items and those hard to find treasures that you don’t see everywhere,” she explained. “We’ve managed to find just the right mix of items that speak to the heart of our customers.”
Top notch customer service is what sells more gifts in her 3,400-square-foot store, according to Varga. “It is our goal to make every customer who walks through our door feel welcomed and at home at the Cross Eyed Owl Gift Shop,” she said. “Our customers are family, and that is true whether it is their first time stopping in or their 400th time in the shop. We provide a relaxing environment where they can browse at their own pace, but if they need our assistance, we are ready and willing to help them find that perfect gift or two for even the hardest to shop for person on their list.”
Liengboonlertchai said that listening to the customer is key to selling gifts in his 2,800-square-foot store. “Try not to sell,” he advised. “My personal belief is that I am here to help my customer find the right thing for his/her immediate needs by listening and asking questions, then suggesting the best item that I might have and then let the customer make his/her own decision. This creates more appreciation and less returns.”
Varga said that listening to the customer is one of her favorite things to do. “We hear about the births, birthdays, weddings and special people that our customers are shopping for,” she said. “Even sad occasions, when someone wants to pick out a memorial gift to remember a loved one who has passed. We enjoy being a part of the celebrations and moments in our customers’ lives. We take joy in that relationship, and our customers appreciate that extra touch.”
Charlene Tsirigotis, co-owner of The Apple Basket in Mechanicsville, Md., said that great customer service also helps sell home décor in her store. “We take time with each customer to help them see their vision by going over paint colors, picking out pictures and grouping like and unlike items that tell a story,” she said.
Getting to know your customers is essential to selling home décor, according to Liengboonlertchai. “Know your customers who your store caters to,” he recommended.. Liengboonlertchai said it is very tempting to bring the most beautiful piece that you love into the store, but you will never sell it if it doesn’t fit your customer base in style and price point.
Tsirigotis said that keeping up with the trends keeps home décor moving. “We follow current trends, and we buy items to suit,” she said. “We are constantly on the lookout for antique and vintage items that will fit in any home décor.”
Liengboonlertchai agreed. “Keep up on trends, including style, color, texture of the furniture and home décor industries,” he suggested. “This will hopefully set you as an expert in home décor in your area.” He added that it’s important to know the competition. “Play up your strengths and the unique elements that set you apart from them, whatever they may be,” he said.
The right display can make all the difference when selling home décor, according to Varga. “One of the best ways we have found to sell more home décor items would be to group items by either theme or color,” she explained. “Our entire shop is displayed that way, and our customers love it because it makes it so much easier for them to put together a grouping that would work in their homes.”
Liengboonlertchai said that he builds displays that make the store feel like home. “Create the best display, showing how customers can simply use those items in their own homes,” he suggested. “Create an inspiring display that makes customers want to touch and feel the item. Also, it’s important that the display is customer friendly.”
Tsirigotis agreed. “I stage each room here like it was a room of a house in order to give people ideas to decorate their homes,” she said. “We constantly change the furniture, walls and tabletops so that people can get additional ideas.”
Purcell said that the experience of being in his store is what keeps customers coming back. “Here at Grapevine Farms, we constantly strive to provide our customers with a unique, memorable experience, and not a one-dimensional shopping excursion,” he said. “We take great pride in the details, everything from the lighting throughout the store and the scent of each room to the music we play in them. We want to inspire our customers’ senses and transport them to a place of personal happiness when they come and visit us… What we fully believe is at the heart of our success is our focus on being a distinct destination tailored to making our visitors comfortable and delighted.”