Black Friday sales were up a whopping 6.6% according to a Bloomberg article—a shocking surprise that sent the stock market up over 300 points. The article, basing its results on ShopperTrak data, reports this is the biggest increase ever. The figures are relating the success of major retailers, but what is happening with small business?
This year we have seen a push to make consumers aware of supporting small business in their Christmas shopping. While this will provide some help, the most important draw small fashion businesses have over the majors is in retail areas that they own—areas where consumers trust small business far more than the majors.
1) LADIES DRESS HATS
First, consider dress hats, especially church hats. How rare it is to find an excellent selection of dress hats suitable for church in any of the majors. Church ladies simply do not trust department stores or the majors for headwear that they are so particular about. Furthermore, they don’t want to see anyone else on Sunday morning wearing the same hat they have. Small business owns this fashion category.
Small retailers not only have the selection with variety and styles to please these ladies every season, but they are also there with personal service to help the client pick the perfect headwear for a suit or Sunday dress.
Is this important for Christmas? Absolutely! This is a meaningful gift for Mom if she wears hats to church on Sunday. These gifts are usually winter dress hats created in felt. Design ranges from simplicity to extravagant for the many personalities the headwear must please. Small businesses specializing in dress hats will have the color and style assortment that leaves the scanty selection of department stores and majors far behind.
2) NEW HEADWEAR FADS
Fads in headwear can nearly pop up over night. As we headed into winter, animal hats suddenly were the rage. Almost out of nowhere, nearly everyone from youth to adults fell in love with the cute designs in animal hats. They came mainly in two styles—knit and plush. Knit animal hats had faces of cats, pandas, koala bears and more weaved into the winter hats with buttons often used for eyes and noses.
The other style is like the plush of stuffed animals. These cuddly animal hats come in bears, wolves, moose, pandas, and more. This is a great boon for small business because they can react almost instantly. The majors placed their orders for winter goods months ago and have scheduled deliveries. Anyone that wants these trendy new hats will have to shop small business. Yes, and plenty of people will be looking for it for Christmas gifts considering how fast and strong this trend popped up. This is one example of how small business can take advantage of fads that suddenly appear. They have the jump on the majors.
Scarves can really make a fashion statement when added to an outfit. However, selecting the right one and how to wear it is an art in itself. Think of the last time you were in a department store or major retail location. How hard was it to find a clerk? Scarves are retuning as an important fashion statement, but retailing them takes a personal touch.
First of all, the choices can be overwhelming for a consumer. One style that seems to be timeless in scarves is the polyester oblongs that have a light and airy look and feel of silk. Available in solids, prints, or themes, these scarves can make an outstanding addition to an ensemble, but the shoppers often need help in making choices. That’s where the personal service of small business becomes essential.
Another type of scarf that has enjoyed overwhelming popularity in recent years is pashminas. The feel is very soft because pashminas are weaved with the undercoat of pashminas goats. The first herds resided high in the Himalayas, but herds were successfully raised in Mongolia, which is where the wool comes from for Chinese pashminas.
Originally, the pashminas came in an array of solid colors, but they soon evolved into prints which really have that exotic look of far away lands. These are definitely boutique-type accessories with a high fashion look. Yet they are very affordable.
But choosing, coordinating, and how to wear the scarves usually takes some personal service, and how can you get that in a department store when you can’t even find a clerk? Scarves make wonderful Christmas gifts and we can chalk this accessory up as a winner for small business.
These ready-to-go gift sets were originally a darling of department stores, but these major retailers seem to have a short attention span. The popularity continued long after the department stores dropped out of the game. Small business can offer more variety, restock faster, and offer the gift sets cheaper than the department stores that seem to have abandoned this accessory.
How can you be cheaper than the majors with their huge buying power? Walk into one of those gorgeous retail locations with oodles of square footage in the high rent district. How would you like to have their overhead? While most small business doesn’t have that kind of foot traffic, their overhead is not sending them to the poorhouse.
Now what is new in these ready-made gifts this year? First there are some sets for men that include a scarf and stocking cap and are super warm. This is practical gifts that you can retail below $15 for your customers that need a gift for friends, office parties, or relatives.
Also, a cute new set for women has a heavy cable knit scarf with matching knit cap decorated with knit flowers on one side. Available in a variety of fashion colors, these instant gifts will sell themselves.
Other choices have faux fur trimmed fleece hat, scarf, and glove sets or the same combination in herringbone. More are still coming so you can keep adding variety to your selection to please customers.
Part II will follow shortly with a look at how small business can excel in fashion jewelry.