Thursday, October 15, 2009

Behind the Scenes @ Swagger Gifts

Hi - It's Mandy (Swagger's Owner for those of you who have only been to the store virtually)! I thought it would be fun to start doing a regular post on "Behind the Scenes" at Swagger. Customers and friends always have questions for me and I thought a "diary" would help with some answers. Here are questions I get all the time:

1. What does it take to own a gift shop?
2. What do you do all day? (I get this question a lot more now that I have moved to Switzerland.:) Oh yeah and that is a picture of my hiking in the Swiss Alps.:)
3. And now of course I get, how can you run your gift shop from Switzerland?
4. How do you order?
5. How do you know what to order?
6. And the list goes on!

So here is my diary for the last week. Of course I did more than this (really I swear I did more than this), but I thought I would just hit the highlights.

So here goes - Volume 1 of Behind the Scenes @ Swagger:

It has been a busy week "behind the scenes". As I hope you all know we are hosting our 7th Annual Holiday Open House on November 8th and our 3rd Annual Open House for charity on November 5th. This past week I was working with my designer to finish the postcard design for the event as well as get them to the printer. You would think this would be an easy task since we have done it for 7 years now but NOOO of course I want the postcard to look different every year:) The printed postcards arrived yesterday (yeah!!!) and I thought I would give you a sneak peek here. Make sure to look for them in your mailbox starting Nov 1st!

Along with getting the printed postcards I had to coordinate with the mailing house on our list of addresses as well as date to send out. So stressful! What date is too early? What date is too late? (I certainly don't want them arriving after the events!) But I think we settled on the perfect date and I am happy with all decisions involved!

Another thing going on with the Open Houses are SWAG BAGS! Swag Bags are the goodie bags we put together as a gift with purchase for customers at the events. Normally we have 50 bags total but last year with both events being so well attended it was my personal mission to have 100 bags this year! And OMG our vendors have really come through! We have Azula mats, Butch and Harold Frames, Mud Pie, Danielson Designs, Scout Bags, and the list goes on! Here is a picture one one of the items that will be in 50 of the bags The total contents of each bag will be different though, so if I were you I would COME EARLY to either (or both) events!:)

Not the laptop silly - the super cute removable Butch and Harold stickr mini frame!

So how do I run a gift shop in Cary, NC from Zurich, Switzerland? Technology of course! Before I left in May, I purchased two cameras (one for me and one for the store) and we Skype almost every day! So easy! It helps in two ways: 1) I don't feel isolated in my 600 Sq. Ft apartment in Zurich and 2) I can have meetings with my store manager, employees, customers, and even sales reps face to face!

Yesterday we did just that! Heather (my super fabulous Store Manager) set up a meeting with one of our reps. When our rep got to Swagger, Heather Skyped me and we all went over the new stuff! Our cameras are really nice and I can see a lot of detail of the products when they hold it up to the lens. Of course I still have Heather to touch and feel the stuff which is really important, so we make a great TEAM when ordering!

A picture I took with my web camera of what I was seeing during the meeting.:)

What were we ordering? Easter and Spring Stuff!:) Yep, always a couple seasons ahead! So fun though and I am really excited about the stuff we purchased! I can't divulge everything, but all I'm saying is High Heel Shoe Beer Bottle Opener!:) I know all my beer drinking friends are going to get one;)

Last but not least I have been adding TONS of stuff to the website including our new Digital Holiday Photo Cards (30% off now through Nov 10th) and our Children's Plates and Placemats - are they both so cute?

Whew! What a week! I think I need a day off! Just kidding Heather - just kidding! So I hope you liked my first "Behind the Scenes" Post! If you have any questions for me, leave a comment and I will try to answer them in future posts!

Hugs to everyone,