Joanne and Peter Hildt, co-owners
How do this year’s sales compare to recent years’? Are you seeing a consistent decline or a slow improvement?
We saw declining sales beginning in October 2007, and 2008 was our worst year in 12 years. Our season in the Arizona desert runs from October through May, so at this writing we are just approaching our season. So far business is slightly improved, but we do not expect sales to recover to pre-recession levels for a while.
Are you projecting more positive numbers for 2010? What are you doing now to keep customers shopping?
We are projecting a modest sales increase in 2010 as customers regain confidence. We have been keeping in touch with our customers through e-mail since many have multiple homes and travel frequently.
Have you tried any new promotions in the last two quarters?
Pinnacle Gallery has refrained from advertising discounts because the sale image damages the gallery image and the long-term value of American craft. Plus, we do not want our customers waiting for a discount price before they buy. We have strengthened our public relations efforts in lieu of some local magazine advertising but have retained ads in national publications.
How has the economy affected your marketing budget? Are you adding, subtracting or keeping an even keel?
We have increased consignment merchandise, but we are very diligent about paying all of our artists on time because we know they also are in a tight squeeze. We have brought in pieces at lower price points along with the traditional high-end works we continue to carry. We have increased our selection of gifts and jewelry under $200, which is showing strong sales.