LinkUp – A blog about our industry

AllApparelEventsGiftHome DecorJewelryNew IntroductionSpecialsTrend Alert

Easter Is On the Way!

Hippity Hoppity…

Easter is just around the corner. By the way, the last the holiday was on April 1st was 1956! It’s no joke to highlight religious based items for this incredibly important Christian Holiday. However, many products can be categorized as simply inspirational or uplifting. And, these items will satisfy any consumer shopping for words of encouragement to decorate, give as a gift, accessorize, read or study and enjoy. While bunnies, tulips, ducks, etc. are more prominent this time of year, we recommend keeping most of your inventory strong in items that sell all year.

A Thomas Nelson best seller

Thomas Nelson is the leader in inspirational books and there is something for every reader in their tremendous offering. Books are a must for every retailer and this division of Harper Collins has celebrity biographies, hugely popular authors, intriguing fiction, deep dive devotionals, light-hearted comedy, coloring books, cook books, books for kids, teens, parents and more. And, Thomas Nelson has the largest collection of Bibles for the consumer.

Brownlow products

Kitchen and entertaining pieces, home accents and functional goods are areas where Spring seasonal colors come into play for bright and cheerful store displays. And, while perfect for the store, they won’t need to disappear when Peter has hopped on down the trail. Brownlow covers all these areas with their array of functional goods, lively and creatively designed items. Their kitchen items and decorative signs are colorful, cheerful and they have an inspirational touch on many of their pieces. Brownlow has a nice assortment of journals that make perfect gifts. With Mother’s Day and graduation just around the corner, this company has plenty of kitchen themed giftables and home accents.

Custom Décor is the industry leader in flags and outdoor fun. Flags are a must for Spring. Flags and outdoor decorating is an assurance that winter is gone and stores should be enjoying their bright, vibrant colors on display. Custom Décor is perfectly in tune with what the shopper needs to decorate the outside of the home.

My Saint My Hero stack bracelets

Jewelry never, ever goes out of fashion! Inspirational jewelry is perfect for Easter the Mother’s Day/graduation gifts. My Saint, My Hero delivers with beautiful faith based “wearable blessings.” The company is all about prayer and empowerment. Easter is no doubt affiliated with these two adjectives. My Saint, My Hero’s stackable bracelets and necklaces will help reinforce the foundation of belief for the wearer and do so with a fashionable flare. From the Heart Wholesale covers a wonderfully affordable niche for store owners. Their inexpensive charm bracelets, earrings and necklaces are perfect impulse buys for the shopper. Inspirational is covered nicely with dozens of designs featuring crosses in different mediums and layouts.

Lizzy James bracelets

Lizzy James, the very successful supplier of wrapped bracelets, delivers with a selection of crosses and inspirational accessories. This Made in the USA artisan jewelry is perfect for the discerning buyer to create their own look for Easter. Stackable jewelry is still very popular at retail and shows no signs of slowing down. Periwinkle Jewelry is a mainstay for boutiques, gift shops, Hallmarks and Hospital Gift Shops with their highly effective rotating displayers of jewelry. Mixing in inspirational with everyday best sellers works well and makes for an easy shopping experience. Order accordingly for the Easter season with a nice supply of crosses and related pieces.

We’re excited for Easter (a most wonderful holiday!) and the beauty of Spring. Happy selling and Happy Easter!

In Store Events

In Store Events are what set the independent retailer apart from the big box stores! Retail can be much more of an experience, rather than just a quick errand run. Events can actually have an impact far beyond the scheduled evening or two day time frame.

A good example is a store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire called Attrezzi’s Fine Kitchen.Attrezzi's outside This store has a wine tasting every Friday night. Evening strollers can stop by for a glass or two and wander the store before heading to a restaurant down the street for dinner. The romantic effect of walking through the store on a pleasant evening causes people to stop by again during the week. This is a classic example of the halo effect an event can have on customers – it brings them back to the store again and again, hoping to create a similar positive experience.

An event also has positive word-of-mouth effects. To continue to use Attrezzi’s as an example, every time a new customer comes into the store, store employees can easily mention the wine tasting as an incentive for the customer to return.Attrezzi's inside

There is a huge amount of Social Media fuel with events. Not only is this an opportunity to create Facebook events and invite people through Instagram, but it offers up excuses for great photos that can be blasted through social media channels for months to come! It is instant marketing for the next event; when Instagram followers see customers drinking wine and buying items at the store, they see an experience they wish to be a part of. Stores often offer up a small discount to people who tag them on social media.

Have an event, and encourage attendees to take photos and tag their friends and the store in their social media posts! Offer up a photo booth, or a discount, and be sure to supply an incentive like food, wine, or another experience that customers are sure to remember.

In the Zone with Impulse Buys

Big box stores often have something referred to as the “impulse zone” in the center aisle (drive aisle) or near the registers, filled with products they simply must sell! Smaller retailers often do not realize that they can use this same concept in a boutique or mom and pop store.

The concept of an impulse zone is to get the consumer to purchase something they would not have come shopping for in the first place. This is like going to the grocery store for a gallon of milk and leaving with candy from the colorful display on your way to the checkout. How can you set up your own “impulse zone?”

Create easy displays for seasonal items. A good example would be stocking stuffers during the Christmas season; there is only a small window of time when you can really bank on customers buying stocking stuffers. If they are not easy for the customer to access, or they don’t know where to find the items in the store, they won’t sell as fast! Make them easy to access, easy to sell. Virginia Gift Brands makes the quintessential stocking stuffer – Money Soap!

Front load! Customers will not always make it all the way to the back of the store. Put great impulse displays right at the front, near the registers. If it’s back-to-school time, and you sell journals, backpacks, or notebooks, have those front and center. Create displays that are designed just for a month long period when the impulse to buy that item is highest. Abdallah Candies is a great example of an impulse buy that can be placed right at the register area, particularly during Valentine’s season, or the holidays. Something like 3D Deco Lights from Blue Sky Wireless can even be on the storefront window for maximum exposure.

Stack ‘em high and watch ‘em fly! Whether this is a candy display at the register, or the latest fad gift item (think fidget spinners), keeping your displays well stocked will make a bolder statement than a half-filled rack or shelf. Periwinkle has an excellent holiday program that creates a perfect display for any counter top. By keeping it filled, customers will surely be attracted to the sparkling jewelry like bees to honey.

Try out a small Impulse Zone with your products and track the results! Think about how and where in your store you can appeal to a customer’s urge to buy. Good Luck! Share your success in the comments!

Link 2 Sales Introduces New Vendors

L2S-New-Vendors-Blog

At Link 2 Sales, we are thrilled to introduce three new brands! Take a look at what they have to offer, and get excited to shop these lines at the January show.

  1. Farmhouse Fresh – Touted as “scrumptiousness for your skin,” Farmhouse Fresh bath and skin care products are made with U.S. Farm Fresh Ingredients! They have been featured multiple times on Oprah’s O-List, and they have won Southern Living’s Beauty awards, Redbook’s MVP, and American Spa Magazine’s Professional Choice for five years.
  2. World’s Softest Socks – The name says it all! An American company founded in Niota, Tennessee, over 100 years ago, World’s Softest is all about providing your feet with the softest, coziest socks possible.
  3. Viv & Lou – If you’re looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind gift, Viv & Lou is the spot to shop! Monogrammed gifts and personalized items are their specialties, with so many bags, apparel, and accessories to choose from.

Valentine’s Day 2018 Gift Guide

valentine's gift guide 2018

 

Time to think about stocking up on Valentine’s Day gifts! Here are some of our pick for 2018. Click the links to learn more. Contact your rep or call us to get these items in your store.

  1. My Saint My Hero  – wearable blessings
  2. Chala – whimsical handbags
  3. Abdallah Chocolates – truffles and  more
  4. Cottage Garden – keepsake music boxes
  5. World’s Softest Socks – socks for the entire family
  6. Anju – artisan jewelry
  7. FarmHouse Fresh –  creamy scrumptiousness for skin
  8. Lizzy James – wrap bracelets made in the USA
  9. Vere – everlasting hairbands

 

Welcome New Vendor Partner Viv & Lou

Viv & Louwithoutlogo

Viv & Lou likes to make gift giving extraordinary. They combine excellent service with quality and affordable personalized products for women, men and children and it’s a magic combination! They always strive for perfection. Their selection is vast.  You’ve seen some of what they offer in their apparel and accessory line (above).  Their gift line alone includes:

  • wood monogramsviv and lour collage 1
  • picture frames
  • lanyards
  • bridesmaid gifts
  • dorm essentials
  • blankets
  • vinyl decals
  • pet tags
  • men’s gifts
  • jewelry
  • home collection
  • tech gifts
  • game day

viv and lou collage 2

Viv & Lou’s children’s line is colorful and fun and includes bags and luggage sets and themed sets for school storage like back packs, lunch boxes, and more.  If you would like more information on Viv & Lou, call your rep or call us at our showrooms at  866-303-5465.

Instagram: The New Runway

instagramrunwayWe recently partnered with Gifts and Dec to host a round table discussion with 12 amazing retailers to talk about where they look to learn about new products and trends. We learned that good reps are important but that “Instagram is the new runway.” Retailers no longer wait for fashion reports or trade shows. They see what their customers want through their Instagram feeds! Fads have become so short that they can start and end before you ever see the customer.

One retailer explained, “Instagram, is set up for my business. So, I can stand at the booth, take my notes in my phone, go back  later through my pictures, and then directly, with a button, click and say which vendors to follow up with.”

With the changing economy, gift retailers are also focusing their efforts on enhancing the customer experience by finding ways to make shopping fun and enjoyable. Promoting the message of “supporting local” among customers is important for gift retailers. Many of the retailers stated that their customer base will pay higher prices at their store because they want to ensure their business continues to thrive.

But the user experience starts long before they walk into your business. With 52% of consumers researching purchases online before shopping, the retail experience starts with your website and social sites. Instagram, is easy and can quickly communicate to a shopper that you carry products that relate to their lifestyle. So, if you aren’t already on Instagram, go check it out and see why it’s being called the “new runway.”

Last Minute Gifts Shipping Now

lastmingifts

  1. Duke Cannon – Skincare products for men that pack in a lot of masculinity.
  2. LS Arts – Wine accessories, Christmas accents and great giftables!
  3. Abdallah – Delicious gifts! Quality chocolates.
  4. Gourmet du Village –  Incredible tasting food offerings!
  5. Habersham Candle Company – This great-selling Wax Pottery® collection redefines decorative fragrant accessories for the home without the need of an open flame.
  6. Nebo –  Innovative, consumer-friendly flashlights and tools make great gifts!
  7. farmhousebags Farmhouse FreshWelcome to this amazing new vendor! They create skincare products grown and crafted with delicious epicurean flair chock full of fruits, vegetables, milks, and more from US farms! Find out how to receive Free Farmhouse Sacks (right) with your order! 

 

2018 Outdoor Trends

outdoorlivinggraphicfinalIf there ever was a year to give outdoor living spaces a fresh look, 2018 is it! With the economy on the upswing, consumers are feeling confident, and are already showing signs of spending more on entertaining at home, both indoors and out. Come next spring, if economic predictions are right, this spending will continue, and outdoor spaces are expected to become a priority for consumers.
 

The trend is to extend interior spaces outside with a smoothcustomdecorspring transition, not a jolt into another color palette. That being said, the minimalistic, Scandinavian, natural fiber look is expected to hang on as an expression of consumers feeling more carefree and unconcerned, as is the much loved, and still very-much-in-demand farmhouse decor with its tone on tone and soft hues of greys and taupes. However, with the excitement of brighter days ahead, consumers will be inclined to add reds, blues, and greens for pops of color, and as underlying symbols of celebration.

 

Millennials, with their penchant for travel and interest in other cultures, more than any other consumer group, will be on the hunt for global inspiration for their outdoor textiles and decorative items. So, artisan items from, outdoorbohospaceor appearing to be from, other cultures will be flooding store shelves. Also, this group prefers hand-crafted items with stories or causes behind them. They will combine multi-colored fabrics and richly patterned textiles with clusters of pottery, plants and decorative items to recreate the feel of a favorite faraway destination.

 
Coastal decor is always big in outdoor spaces but, it will be enhanced in 2018 with more elaborate patterns and some handmade appeal with textiles and fabrics having a water-colored effect.
 
Regaltrio
 
Consumers are expected to be more interested in decorative garden lights and statement-making statuary, like those above from Regal Art & Gift, placed around their outdoor living spaces and seasonal outdoor decor from Custom Decor. It’s going to be quite a year for the industry with all of these fun and unexpected design elements!