Last Updated: 1/6/2022
Hi Ladies and Gents,
Welcome to another Thursday here at Andreas Philip Gross Enterprises - our first Thursday post in 2022! We’re going to jump right into today’s post on seasonal sales. Seasonal sales is a terrific business idea I have mulled over for many years, and I have yet to find a business that uses the exact take on it I am about to present. Of course, to qualify it for the record, when I say “terrific business idea,” as with any business idea, this all depends on what kind of market you can reach and how you are able to run your operation. There are always numerous factors involved. Even the best ideas can flop flat as a pancake if not implemented correctly or if the audience isn’t there to receive them. Right now, when you walk into just about any ‘big box’ store in the U.S. you won’t see much going on in terms of seasonal sales. Some places might be gearing up with MLK Day “gear.” If you walk into a ‘big box’ store in China right now, though, you will see the first big ‘wave’ of Chinese New Year paraphernalia starting to hit the shelves. In both countries, you may still see a small pile on the “deep discount” shelf of the last ‘dregs’ of Christmas stuff being hawked off at 75-90% off...being dumped for pennies because, hey, Christmas is over as far as business and commerce is concerned! Then, BOOM! All of a sudden, before us “commoners” know what is even happening, we will start to see Valentine’s Day stuff on the shelves! The displays rotate so quickly!
But you know what, the rest of the ‘big box’ store remains the same. I mean, sure, they might put up some holiday decorations and play holiday-specific music, but really, the rest of the store remains the same (ok, sure, wise-guy – they might be remodeling or something right at that time, so they are not technically ‘remaining the same’...ya nit picky smart a$$!).
A Novel Idea:
What if you just created a “Holiday Store”? Think about this with me for a minute, will you? It could be online or brick-and-mortar or both, but the main idea of your store would be to sell seasonal goods, gifts, and novelties, and rotate these through with each passing holiday and season. Of course, this would require a lot of changing inventory – and may be better suited for an online affiliate or dropshipping startup as the result of just that – but why not? The traditional idea of a “Holiday Store” like what I am talking about generally tends to revolve around one theme – i.e. “The All-Year Christmas Store,” “The All-Year 4th Of July Fireworks Stand” (in jurisdictions where this is legal – yes, they do exist!); OR a shop that is only seasonally open for one specific holiday – i.e. “The Halloween Costume Store” that is open for the month of October only, “The Parking Lot 4th Of July Fireworks Stand” that is open the last week of June up until July 4th only. But what if you created a store that just sold “holiday-type” goods all year long and you kept rotating your inventory through with the passing holidays and seasons? Maybe you have seen a store like this out there somewhere – if you have, I sure haven’t; and I’m sure you can agree with me that it’s not a common place store in every town!
Of course, in creating such a store you would have to pick and choose which holiday/seasonal items you would sell – you couldn’t recognize EVERY little obscure holiday or commemoratory day from every corner of the globe – you just couldn’t! I mean, maybe you could try, but things could easily get out of hand very quickly! Or maybe, on the flip side of this, you would want to specialize in “obscure days that no one knows about” – National Polka Dotted Underwear Day, or International Walk Your Dog Backwards Day, or, in the U.S., the National Lentil Festival for example. Of those three examples I just gave, I only actually know for sure that the National Lentil Festival is real, because it originated (and is still celebrated every year) in my hometown of Pullman, Washington. Yes, the festival really does have national status. As for National Polka Dotted Underwear Day and International Walk Your Dog Backwards Day, I simply made those up! If real commemorative days like those exist in this world somewhere it is purely coincidental!
This is a business idea I have tossed around in my head for years now. And if you take my idea and run with it, I’ll punch you in the face...ha, ha, no, not really! If you take my idea and run with it, more power to you! I wish you profits and success and all the best – that’s why I’m sharing it here!
Of course, such an idea could be easily incorporated around a ‘general’ store type of thing, i.e. you have your holiday stuff, but then also sell drinks (like canned pop and bottled water), and pre-packaged snacks, and maybe have a convenience store type of section within your store, but be careful with this, because then there you go! If you start going too far down the rabbit hole of the ‘general’ rest of the store that could accompany such a “Holiday Store” then you are no different than the big box stores anymore, now, are you?! Those big box stores I was talking about at the beginning of the post here are all ‘general’ type of overwise unchanging stores that have a section of holiday goods that rotate through!
One thing you might catch some flak for with this idea is what kinds of days/holidays you recognize and/or don’t recognize. Of course, this is fine, no single person or group in the general population who comes across your store is going to be 100% satisfied with which days/holidays you pick to recognize and sell merchandise around or which you don’t. Some people might even be wildly offended. Let’s say, for example, you choose to sell merchandise around two different religious holidays that fall close to each other during one particular time of the year, but those two different religious holidays happen to be of two different religions, let’s even say two different religions that don’t always get along so well with each other – just for argument’s sake. Of course, it is your private business and you call the shots, but you are going to piss some people off in such a scenario – just be aware of that!
To illustrate this further, even on this website itself that you are reading right now, some people probably key into my references to Christianity and Christian holidays and celebrations right away and have some kind of positive emotional response towards them. Others are probably turned off right away by such references and have more of a negative emotional response. Still, other readers might be un-phased emotionally altogether and just continue reading because of a keen interest in the "feature" subject matter being showcased. That’s my point. People can and will easily get charged up over a store that sells “something new with each season,” but that’s part of business and part of life.
Another challenge you will face, as I already alluded to several times earlier, is your constantly changing inventory. Whether you are keeping a physical inventory (an intense way to pull this idea off!) or simply changing your dropping shipping and/or affiliate offerings online on a website with each changing season/coming of new days/holidays/festivals to recognize, this idea calls for constant change in your offerings. You will need to keep this in mind and make sure you have the energy, man-power (“people-power” – is that more politically, correct? Ha, ha!), and physical space (if you are keeping physical inventory) to pull this off!
The Traditional Approach:
Before wrapping this post up entirely today, let me just go ahead and give some quick treatment to the two more ‘traditional’ seasonal sales approaches I briefly gave reference to above. These are: The Year-Round One Kind of Holiday Type of Store/Setup and The Only Open During This Particular Time of Year Type of Store/Setup.
The Year-Round One Kind of Holiday Type of Store/Setup:
Examples of this type of setup include such things as your year-round 4th Of July Fireworks Stand (yes, this is legal in some jurisdictions!), or your year-round Christmas Store, and the like. Essentially, it is a store that is open year-round that just sells particular things for one day/holiday/festival that happens once a year.
Of course, depending on your location and your skillset related to branding and marketing such a business, results can and will definitely vary, but the biggest challenge overall with such a setup is that you will have to expect that you will have a heavy load of customers around the time of the actual holiday and less customers in the off-season. Much fewer people will probably go to your Christmas Store in July and August than they will in November and December, for example; although, of course, you are bound to still have some customers in July and August – and, in fact, no doubt all year – because of the novelty effect, which is a plus with such a business!
Two of the biggest factors in your favor with such an idea include The Novelty Effect and The Beat the Competition Because You Are Open Early Effect. What are these two factors?
The Novelty Effect essentially is, as the name implies, an attraction customers will feel to check out your store because of the sheer novelty it has to offer! “What?! An Easter Store in the middle of Fall?! I can’t believe it!!!” they will say! You will get people who will be attracted to come into your store, check it out, and possibly pick up a thing or two just because of the novelty of the experience alone. I remember from personal experience walking into a one such store as a young child with my mom and younger sister. It was a year-round Christmas Store on the East Coast of the U.S. I have never seen a store quite like it since! Anyway, I was in Kindergarten at a time, and here I am now in my late 30s and still remember the experience very vividly. I remember using all the allowance money I had in my pocket at the time to buy a cool little cricket tree ornament. Why? Because I thought the ornament was cool and because I thought the store was cool.
In terms of The Beat the Competition Because You Are Open Early Effect, what I am talking about here is if your Holiday Store is open year-round for a specific holiday, then, well, it is always open so it is essentially open “early” in relation to when other similar Holiday Stores will start to open or when the big box stores will start to put their garb out for said holiday. Again, using the example of a Christmas Store (just because that’s an easy one), let’s say the big box stores start putting their Christmas stuff out on Black Friday and other such Christmas Market type venues (seasonally-opened Christmas venues) start to open within the next week in early December. You, however, with your year-round Christmas store, have the leg up on the competition in this case and have already been catching the “early bird” Christmas shoppers who have started (slowly, but steadily building momentum each week) coming into your store since the beginning of November.
One final plus with this type of setup is the fact that you don’t have to re-setup and shutdown seasonally, which takes time, money, and energy in and of itself to do.
The Only Open During This Particular Time of Year Type of Store/Setup:
This type of setup is your classic 4th Of July Fireworks Truck in the Big Box Store Parking Lot from the last week of June through July 4th; your December Christmas Market and/or Christmas tree seller; your February Valentine’s Day Roses seller; and, to use an example from the past that I clearly remember seeing the tail end of in my childhood before it died out completely (at least died out in the US), your classic seasonal firewood seller (usually set up in the parking lot of all mall or one of your favorite big box stores close to a street corner). I suppose, technically, large scale commercial farming where one or two harvests of a particular crop are realized within a certain season each year would fall into this category as well, but that is its own unique beast with its own unique game plan which we will not discuss here! Let’s be honest here, no one is going to make a living selling Valentine’s Day Roses from February 1st through 14th and only February 1st through 14th, so someone who runs this type of enterprise has to have other additional avenues of making money in mind as well!
In fact, to be honest, it is largely large traditional farmers (or at least “larger” – larger than micro farmers) who run a traditional-style plant, grow, harvest once or twice a year type of farm who I have personally encountered are the ones who engage in and have success with these kinds of ventures. Traditional-style farmers like this also have the space to store inventory and equipment (think a fireworks truck, etc.) on their farms during the off seasons. In fact, as I type this right now I am thinking of the fireworks truck you can see parked in the field of a large family farm as you drive out of my hometown of Pullman, Washington. Of course, the truck isn’t parked in that field on June 25th – it’s parked in one of the big box store parking lots in town selling fireworks! But my point is, with this particular example, that family also has its farm income to go along with its two-weeks-worth of firework sales each year.
A major downside to this type of setup is having to re-setup and take-down your sales front each time you go into business for the season. As you are only selling for a short amount of time during the year, finding an avenue to make your sales happen can take some hefty leg work in the first place! As for Valentine’s Roses, perhaps you could sell these through the Internet, keeping inventory right in your home, and then deliver them to customers around town; but let’s take a look at that 4th Of July Fireworks Truck again...when they only sell fireworks for two weeks out of the year, that family is not going to rent a piece of commercial property in town and pay rent on it all year just to set up on it for two weeks in the summer. Much less are they going to buy a piece of commercial property which will just sit empty except for two weeks in the summer. They will have to have some kind of mobile sales front (like a “fireworks truck”) and work out some type of seasonal rental agreement to setup in a parking lot somewhere. There are, of course, also seasonal sales permits that go along with all of this, too! They will also have to have a reliable and cheap enough place to store their mobile sales front during the rest of the year. With all this said, none of this is undoable, of course, but these are all things to think about. You will want to try your best to minimize the amount of time, energy, and money you have to spend setting up and taking down your seasonal storefront. The same rules apply here to brick-and-mortar locations as they do to online locations.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to seasonal sales, and there are numerous minor factors at play in a scenario like this that I have not even brought up here. Hopefully this article has given you something to think about until Monday (and maybe beyond). Until then, here’s to making money through the changing of the seasons! Better life, better business, better you!
Ideas, inspiration, opportunity,
Andreas Philip Gross Enterprises
Washington State Certified K-8 Educator, K-12 International Education Consultant, Professional Coach, Proofreader/Editor, Affiliate Marketer, Popsicle Stick Crafter, Print-on-Demand Products Designer, and Webmaster
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