From my house I can see the first snow on Pike’s Peak. That either means it’s the end of summer or God is teaching some silly unprepared hikers a lesson.
In Catholic retail you can’t start prepping for Christmas in October because we have a season that really starts in November. So if you haven’t already begun here’s your checklist:
- Take a deep breath and remember why you opened your store. You aren’t trying to provide a Catholic branded consumer mentality. You opened your store (I hope) to strengthen the faith of other Catholics and answer questions for those who aren’t Catholic yet. Christmas isn’t a time to provide a Catholic version of the buying frenzy, it’s a time to help people get more meaning out of the season.
- Take advantage of seasonal specials that are offered during mid to late summer by you vendors. Printery House offers an unbeatable special on Christmas cards during the summer. Buy a certain number of packs and get a free display and no hastle returns on what didn’t sell! You can’t beat no-risk.
- See what sold really well last year. Your point of sale system had better be able to give you a bestseller report. Make sure that you have a good stock of the top 20% of those items.
- Schedule gift fairs at local parishes for the Advent season. It can be a great way to get your name out and help people have a more prayerful Advent.
- Clean your store. If you have been putting off your Spring cleaning all summer it’s time to put the best face on your store for ome of the busiest times of the year.
- Related to store cleaning but often overlooked, take a look at what’s in your front windows and other displays around the store. It’s time to take down the First Communion display and old movie posters.
- Check your advertising. Make sure that any ads that you are running get a face lift and have all of your correct information on them (hours, phone number, location, etc.)
- Put together a marketing calendar so you are sure to have the product you need when you need it. This will also help you get ready for specific events without them sneaking up on you.
- Check all your pricing. January isn’t the time to find out that the bestselling item of the Christmas season was actually 20% more than you were selling it for.
- Start paying attention to what publishers are releasing in the Fall. If you aren’t going to stock them at least be knowledgeable about them when customers ask.
- Bonus tip: This Advent (2011)one of the biggest changes in the Church that most of us have ever experienced will be happening. Make sure that you have plenty of new Roman Missals on hand. They will make wonderful Christmas gifts. If you don’t own an imprinting machine yet, go buy one. It will probably pay for itself this season.