One of my favorite Valentine cards from years past said something like “if you’ll help me get through February, I’ll help you get through March.”   No matter what side of the political spectrum you find yourself on, there is no question that this winter is a tough time for our country — and especially for independent retailers.  So we need to do what we can to help our customers as well as our fellow shopkeepers get through the negativity of this period.

Valentine’s Day is well timed to uplift the spirits of those suffering from the winter doldrums any year, and especially this one. There are those who think of it as a holiday specifically aimed at couples, but I like to look at it more broadly as celebration of love.  And also gratitude and appreciation, since we don’t have a holiday specific to these worthy emotions.  We carry lots of Valentines that are appropriate to give to anyone special.

The always creative gift line Knock Knock offers a series  of cards that are actually little booklets that start with “What I love about you,” and offers prompts such as “I am so ____ that ______” and “the world is more _____ because you are in it.”  I’m going to take my inspiration from this concept and ask my customers to post a note inside a large heart like the one in the Banana Republic display shown in the illustration above.  The only guideline will be that it must include a positive message about something or someone they love.

I look forward to seeing this wall of love and gratitude by the time that Valentine’s Day comes around on February 14, and I know that our customers will also enjoy reading the anonymous posts by their fellow shoppers.  We have a long standing promotion for this holiday that centers around offering the first 100 shoppers on the day or two before Valentine’s Day a helium-filled mylar heart balloon. They only cost us $1 each, and it’s $100 well spent. Getting a free balloon gives our customers another reason to smile, and hopefully to include Orange Tree Imports and other locally owned businesses on the list of things that they love.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder 

Please note that there will not be a Specialty Shop Retailing blog next week because of the NY NOW gift show. Hope to see you there!

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