What sets your shop apart from other stores in your area, as well as your big box and online competitors? If your merchandise selection comes entirely from the same sources, the line may be a thin one. But today it is simple to include at least some items that are exclusively yours by taking advantage of the many opportunities for customizable products.

Offering products that reflect pride in where your store is located is a great way to start. The magnet above is an example of the wide range of items available in the Local Love line by Rock Scissor Paper of San Fernando, California.  They offer a variety of motifs ranging from mushrooms and market bikes to covered bridges and cardinals.  You select one or more of these designs, add your town, city or state name, and choose your product.  Most of their items, which include mugs, magnets, ornaments, totes, onesies, and key chains, have a minimum of 12 pieces or less.

Indigo Tangerine of Jackson, Wisconsin offers kitchen towels with a town or city name and the corresponding zip code/s. Our customers get a kick out of finding something as close to home as their own zip code, and we’ve just ordered some with our area code as well. Of course Indigo Tangerine and other companies also offer many options with the shape of our state – which is great for Wisconsin, but not for rectangular ones like Colorado and Wyoming.

Two other Wisconsin companies come to mind when thinking of exclusive local-themed designs. The first is Driftless Studios, which engraves words and numbers of coffee or cocktail tumblers with a durable powder coated color.  Another is Sawdust City, an Eau Claire company offering custom wood sign design services.

You could also unleash your inner creativity – perhaps with the assistance of the fantastic graphic design program Canva – and create an entirely original product. I recently created a vaccination card holder and a Swedish dishcloth exclusive to our store. We are now working with Wet-It to create a Swedish dishcloth featuring a floral design by a local non-profit to use or an upcoming fundraiser. 

If you need inspiration, ask your sales reps if they have any lines that offer the option of customizing products. You could also search one of the B2B sites such as Faire and Abound to see what comes up under customizable. Once you’ve received your new products, be sure to let shoppers know that these items are yours exclusively.  

Happy retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder