Gift and stationery stores offer a wide range of items from gifts and calendars to stationery, frames and writing instruments. For this article, store owners and staff members provided their insights into selling more of these items, and what products are among their best-sellers.
At the Old Town Emporium located in Albuquerque, N.M., Buyer and Manager Taylor Sanchez explained some of her top tips to sell more of these items. “First of all, it’s very important just to have plenty of each item in stock. Second, things need to look fresh in the displays. We try to rotate constantly with new styles, we want to keep things interesting at all times, even though we may have new people seeing the displays for the first time. We also put items right where people can see them, such as our edible items like salsas, which we put in the front of the store. We also advertise in the store that these items are locally made, which is important to visitors, especially. With picture frames, we lead people over to that area if they’re specifically looking.”
Also prominently displayed are inexpensive, $1.99 pens that feature the hot air balloons that are a part of the Albuquerque charm at an annual festival. “We also have some pens that say ‘New Mexico.’ They make great inexpensive gift items if you have a group of people to buy for, such as other people at the office. She said that these small, but attractive, localized items say “ ‘Hey I thought of you while I was on vacation,’ ” she explained. While she carries them, she doesn’t sell a lot of journals or other paper items. She said well-located, fresh displays work in the store because it’s important to draw shoppers’ eyes to each item, and marking items as local, rotating stock, and placing certain items prominently all do that.
As to her top-selling gifts, Sanchez explained that “Among our very best-sellers are socks. I think they sell well because we have all different kinds of genres and subjects and everyone wears them. They make light-weight travel gifts, too. We also sell a lot of mugs, but not souvenir-type mugs, more kitchen gift items. They make an easy present to buy, as do locally made edible products, such as hot sauces, coffees and salsas.”
In Phoenix, Ariz., Evelyn Patel, manager of PaperSource, uses “intriguing visual displays grouped in stories and by matching designs to sell more of gift and stationery-related items. “We also do mass marketing, our social media approach is created at the corporate level, particularly with unique designs besides our own made-in-house products. We just partnered with Draper James, which is Reese Witherspoon’s company, and we’re the only place where you can get those items. So that got a big social media boost.” She said these tips – social media and story-oriented display – work well because “To sell more of anything you really have to draw people’s attention with a story. The way we build those stories and where we place items in the store is very important. Social media lets people know what is new in the shop.”
Her top-selling items run a large gamut. “We have lots of different items that we carry, such as tea towels, pens, stationery sets with our exclusive designs on them – and they all do well. We also do well with seasonal items. Right now we have many new spring designs that were made in-house. You won’t find them at other retailers. Having unique items that can be coordinated together really drives sales.”
Also in Phoenix, Bre McDonald, manager of the gift shop Urbana, said the way that her store sells more gifts and other items is also focused on a combination of display in the store and social media posts. “They’re both important. When it comes to social media, we use Instagram specifically. We can get a good visual and present the story behind items just as we do in our store. People can see the new products as they come in, because we post daily,” she explained. “In our store, we tell stories through our displays. We always try to know the background of our products. Lots of people like that as they walk through the shop.” Providing knowledgeable information about new products and about the products she carries in general is important to raise sales, she noted.
McDonald said among her best-sellers are items focused on “home celebrations. We sell cheese boards, serving pieces, locally made beauty items, and candles that all do well as gifts. We say that really anything in our store can be a gift. We do well with planners and notebooks and cards, lots of party and paper items, too. We have a few calendars but they are not a big seller for us. When it comes to paper goods, cards are much bigger for us.”
In Fircrest, Wash., Jennifer Luna co-owns Paper Luxe and the Curious Bear Toy and Book Shop with her mother Laurie Hicks. Luna said that the primary way to sell more gifts and items such as writing implements and calendars, is to have a strong approach to social media posting. “That’s primarily what lifts sales. We use both Instagram and Facebook. The posts really drive people into the store to see new items as soon as we put pictures up. People will want to come in or they’ll even buy on our website and do in-store pick-up. They love the visual, they love knowing what is here ahead of a visit.”
Top-selling items for Luna include “Rifle Paper Company calendars – we do lots of them, at multiple times, especially during the holiday season and at the beginning of the year. Candles that are locally made, lots of jewelry and earrings, and fountain pens, especially the disposable ones, recently, have all done very well. The pens are made by Ooly, and they’ve been really well-received after just a few months in the store.” The eclectic mix of these items, fresh and frequent new arrivals, and the fact that many are unique in the area, all make for strong sales.
At The Paper Place in Sisters, Ore., Owner Kara Petersen decisively believes that display is the best way to sell any items in her 1,600-square-foot shop, hands-down. “It is number one. I do a little social media on both Instagram and Facebook, but not a lot, and we also do a lot of one-on-one conversations with our customers about the items we carry. But display is the top way to sell. I group my displays primarily by product, and I think that people find it easier to seek out the products they’re looking for that way.” She said that “If I knew why certain gifts sell well and others don’t, I’d retire.” At the moment, her best-selling items include humorous dish towels, unusual mugs, Bagelini purses, and stationery. She added that “I also sell primarily scenic calendars, and they do well towards the end of the year and in January, best of all.”