Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Warehouse Sale - Part III

The big day is almost here and I have to think about "what do I know for a fact that I don't know?"  And is there anything I can do to mitigate the risks of the "don't knows"?

One thing I did (call it double disaster recovery planning) was get an old fashioned manual credit card device.  You remember them - the ones where you place your card on the metal surface and a paper form is laid over the card.  A large "block" is then swiped back and forth over it to create the imprint.  I was very anxious about the ability of my iPhone device to have a strong enough signal (and also unsure of the Wifi we were told we would have) in order to process cards on it.  So, to be sure, I went back to manual!

I had already planned to offer the people on my mailing list a preview of the items going to the Warehouse Sale (at Warehouse Sale prices) the night before and the morning of the set-up.  So, I set up my H-rack in the store and filled it with the hanging items going to the sale.  It gave me a good idea of whether or not I had enough (or too much) in terms of merchandise.  Fortunately, it was "just right"!

Before I knew it, Friday afternoon was here and Jim arrived to help me move the sale items to the Masonic Memorial for set-up.  As he carried things out of the store he said "Now, none of this is coming back, right?"  I didn't know how to answer that!

We did our best to make creative use of things we already had on hand.  We used Zoe's "Coming Soon" Sign (which was hanging in the store window at this time last year) doubled over to mark the check-out table.

We turned the H-rack to the side so that it would allow people easy access into the space.

Anna pictured with the H-Rack prior to the start of the Sale.  We had a small sign on the end of the rack listing the brands we had at the sale.

We also turned the table to the side to allow people more space to browse and to also provide a natural dividing line between Zoe's space and the next space over.

That evening, we made an emergency trip to Home Depot so that I could buy two inexpensive (less than $6 each) mirrors to prop up in the space.

The table was completely full when we started the sale!

Due to significant track work on Metro on the weekends, we picked Anna up on Saturday morning to make sure she didn't have any issues getting to the sale.  Jim took this picture of the sun coming up from the hill on which the Masonic Memorial is located.

Ah...the things we do for our children (Zoe)

There was a little bit of early shopping going on (other store owners/team members buying from each other) as well as the four lucky shoppers who won a drawing and got to come in at 8:30!  Zoe probably had 4 sales prior to the sale officially starting!

The next several hours were almost a blur.  I was processing sales as quickly as possible.  Clothes were flying on and off the racks - it was all we could do to occasionally try to get them back into their proper size groupings!  We had two instances where a customer was in such a hurry to get to the next store that she left her credit card with us (fortunately, Anna was able to track them down both times - it helped that they were carrying the bright Zoe bags).  The table was a mess!  My original stock of business cards was depleted and I brought out more from my purse.  By the end, I was writing the store information on pieces of paper. (Lesson - bring more cards next time).

One big mistake of mine was not having something with me to drink - I definitely started to feel dehydrated.  Fortunately, Jim had a neighbor follow him to the Memorial in the mid afternoon (so that he could leave my car there) and he brought Anna and me something to drink.  I think he was blown away when he walked in and saw how empty our racks and table were!  

As you can imagine, sometimes clothing ended up in the wrong places - it was not unusual for another store owner to bring one of our items back that had ended up in their area (and we did the same).  The mirrors were a huge hit - not many others in my area had mirrors so many people were coming to look at themselves in them.  At one point, the line was 4 deep just to look in the mirror!

Although things slowed down a little in the afternoon (to the point where we were able to straighten out the remaining items on the racks and tables) we remained steadily busy until the close (our last sale was right at 4 pm).  

The tear down was much simpler than the set-up - simply because there just wasn't that much to take back.  Jim came over again to take the clothing and racks back to the store.  And Anna and I headed back to the store to now process everything that had been sold that day.

Janice and Karen had gone far beyond the call of duty to man the store all day for me while I had been at the Warehouse Sale.  They told me that several people had come all the way down to the store after shopping at (or learning about) Zoe at the Warehouse Sale.  It was really wonderful to be in the position to have the store "open" in both places at the same time!

Anna and I started processing the sales through the Point of Sale system at around 4:45.  Each item we had sold that day had to be removed from inventory and, for those items paid for via credit card, each card had to be hand entered.  We developed a system by which Anna read out the items sold on the ticket.  Once I had entered them, I confirmed the total with her.  If the total matched, she then gave me the payment method and I entered it in.  Much to our delight and relief, all of the credit cards processed with no issue!

Then, the moment of truth - how had we done?  I really had no idea, we had been processing sales so quickly.  I ran the end of day program and my hand flew to my mouth - I told her "That can't be - did we make a mistake?  Did we really do that well?"  We double and triple checked totals!  I almost cried for joy - I couldn't believe what a success it had been.  We totaled 80 individual sales and had a sales day that even beat Black Friday.

Besides the items listed above and in previous posts, what would I do differently?  I would definitely take additional items to sell as the table and racks got cleaned out.  I do think in several cases we could have probably sold even more if we had it available.  I'll definitely try to find the right "Chinese Screen" to provide a semblance of a dressing room.  

It took me a couple days to recover from all of the activity of the previous week.  I hope to have the opportunity to do it again next year as a smarter and wiser shop owner!

Next:  The Credit Card inspection


  1. I am so thrilled to hear that you did so well. Go Zoe!

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