The 10 things I consider when choosing the wonderful products to stock in my unique gift shop

gift shop

Here I’m giving you a glimpse behind the scenes as to how I choose what to stock in my unique gift shop.

Customer So perhaps this is stating the obvious, but at the heart of my decision is “Will my customers like this product and come to my gift shop for it?” And in order to decide on that I look at lots of other factors as follows….

Irish This one is very important to me and hopefully to my customers too. I made a very deliberate decision to only stock Irish designed/made products. My vision is for Wrapped in Kindness to support as many Irish-based makers as possible, as well as supporting Irish charities. My target customer is also Irish-based, so I just love the circular flow of local customers buying beautiful Irish products and supporting their chosen Irish charity in the process.

I’m putting a unique option out there, a place for customers to make better decisions about where they spend their hard earned money, get something beautiful and be sure of the impact that spending has in the Irish economy. There is an abundance of talented Irish-based makers out there and I just love finding new makers to stock. It is honestly one of the most exciting/rewarding parts of running my business.

Contemporary So if you look at the collection of products in Wrapped in Kindness as a whole See Shop, you will see a contemporary theme running throughout. There are a lot of shops doing the more traditional type Irish products, which can be more targeted towards tourists, but I am firmly focused on a more contemporary aesthetic, to appeal more strongly to people that live here. I want to showcase the many, beautiful contemporary Irish products available, and even surprise people every now and again with the beauty, style and design of the products available on our small island.

Design-Led Companies that put design at the very core of their brand are design-led.  So following on from the previous point, if you break Irish products into Art, Craft & Design, I think the Wrapped in Kindness product set sits closer to the Design category.

Beautiful design has such an impact on us. We need to surround ourselves with products that appeal to our senses, that brighten our day just by catching a glimpse of a particular colour or shape or improve our mood just from their scent. Design is one of those things that can often be so intangible and so hard to describe but we just know when a particular design appeals to something inside of us and lights us up.

Quality The quality of the products is of the utmost importance to me. I always try to buy samples of the products I’m hoping to stock to use them myself before deciding to include them in my gift shop. This is another of my very favourite parts of running this business – shopping for and testing out beautiful Irish products for a living!

Sustainable This word is used a lot at the moment but I genuinely do try to stock products where sustainability has been carefully considered by the maker – from the components, ingredients & production to the packaging. The fact that these are Irish products also means less overall air miles.

Fit/Ethos This follows on from the previous point but is also more than just about sustainability. Several of the brands I stock have kindness at their core also. For example –

 Milis Candles – Fiona is an oncology nurse and she donates 5%  of the profits from her wholesale orders to the Irish Cancer Society. Check out About Milis

Sean Kennedy, from Printfinger, who designed The Sixty Second Journal donates €1 from each journal sold on his website to Pieta House. See About Printfinger

These are just 2 examples but there are also plenty more from amongst the 20+ Irish suppliers I currently stock.

Gut/Intuition Selecting products is not an exact science. There’s no formula I can follow to know something will definitely appeal to my customers so there is definitely a huge element of trusting my gut/intuition when it comes to stock selection. It’s that inexplicable element where you feel it is just right to stock this product so I go for it!

Cost This is very important in any retail business. In the case of Wrapped in Kindness however, where I give 10% of sales to charity, I need to target a certain margin level for each product, to make this a successful business. Some makers, especially smaller or less established ones, just unfortunately aren’t able to offer the margin I need. In those cases, I will keep following their journey, in the hope that when they grow or get more established, they can offer a higher margin. And the odd time, if I really LOVE the product and think customers will too, I make an exception and stock it anyway.

Permission/Willingness Obviously, the makers I approach need to be happy for me to stock their products in the first place! Some who also sell online, will only supply to you if you have an actual bricks and mortar store.

Some will have very high minimum order quantities, which are just not realistic for a small gift shop starting out, but I’ve found that most suppliers I’ve approached about buying smaller quantities, have been so accommodating.

Some will say that they’re not taking on any more stockists at the moment due to capacity constraints.

And I know this is very hard to believe but one or two have just been plain rude. Example from a brand I approached (who shall remain anonymous) –

 “I have been contacted so many times over the years by people who are setting up similar websites selling Irish products and unfortunately they have never succeeded”

I mean talk about making you feel like you shouldn’t even bother….anyway moving on..

So that’s it – a look into the decision-making process for how I pick the beautiful Irish products to stock for you in my unique gift shop – Wrapped in Kindness!

PS If you enjoy reading these blogs, please sign up to my newsletter, at the bottom of the homepage, where I will eventually be sending out some regular emails with all the latest news about what’s going on in Wrapped in Kindness, random thoughts and the odd code for free gifts/free shipping.

 

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