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Reflections on the 2010 Holiday Shopping Season

December 30, 2010, 6:15 p.m., EDT


I hope everyone had a wonderful and busy holiday season. I definitely sensed a renewed vigor with regards to holiday shopping for the family dog. For me, not only was traffic up but the amount spent per transaction was up significantly from last year. Some of the bigger ticket items I carry in my stores (e.g., dog beds and carriers) sold very well this season. I did try some new things this holiday season that seemed to work out very well and brought new customers into my stores. Some of these business generators work well outside of the holiday season as well.

1. Team with Other Local Businesses: I provided holiday treats (at cost) during the month of December to a reputable local kennel that gave them to their customers when they arrived to pick up their dog. I had several customers comment that they learned about Sloppy Kisses based on the treats the kennel was giving out. Similarly, I provided a welcoming treat and doggie information packet to hotel guests traveling with their dogs at a Downtown Saratoga Springs, NY dog-friendly hotel. Sloppy Kisses was usually their first stop on their holiday shopping excursions.

2. Use Facebook to Advertise Gift Ideas: I did a "25 Days of Christmas” promotion on Facebook during December, where I featured a doggie gift idea of the day and provided a small discount on the featured product to Sloppy Kisses Facebook fans. This turned out to be a great way to sell excess stock. Also, based on some suggestions I posted on Facebook, I had several realtors order holiday gift baskets for their clients who own dogs and sold several holiday treat platters for doggie daycare Christmas parties.

3. Advertise on Television: I was very happy with the overwhelming response to Sloppy Kisses’ television commercial that aired on the local NBC affiliate during the month of December. I had people driving an hour or more to shop at my stores based on learning about my business from the TV commercial. Even more surprising was the number of locals that weren’t aware of my stores, even though I’ve been in business almost five years at my Saratoga Springs, N.Y., location and almost two years at my Clifton Park, N.Y., location and have advertised extensively in print media. Although the commercial was expensive, it more than paid for itself during the holiday shopping season.

4. Host a Holiday Event: While not new this year, Sloppy Kisses’ "Barkfest with Santa” event was the biggest ever with more than 70 dogs in attendance for food, doggie fun and pictures with Santa. Community events like Barkfest build customer loyalty and also provide an opportunity to raise money for deserving local dog-centric organizations. This year we raised $350 during Barkfest for a local humane society chapter and provided exposure to their organization during the event.

While these initiatives were great for holiday business, I expect them to pay dividends going forward as I’ve gained countless new customers this holiday season following these simple business ideas.

Wishing everyone a successful and prosperous New Year.



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