Crescent Moon at The Cotton Exchange

Joan and Mike Loch, co-owners
Wilmington, N.C.

How do this year’s sales compare to recent years’? Are you seeing a consistent decline or a slow improvement?

We are below last year approximately 22% and approximately 32% behind 2007. Starting in July of this year we have seen a consistent improvement, and we anticipate making up for the sluggish first part of 2009 during the upcoming holiday season.

Are you projecting more positive numbers for 2010? What are you doing now to keep customers shopping?

Yes, absolutely. We continue to do what we do well, and that is build relationships with our customers and offer great customer service.

Have you tried any new promotions in the last two quarters?

We are very small in square footage, so in-store events are not feasible for us. We have become the gallery for local glass artists, now totaling 10, and that has provided us several avenues of promotion.

How has the economy affected your marketing budget? Are you adding, subtracting or keeping an even keel?

We have literally stopped all print ads. But we can afford to do that because we are located in a historic group of buildings that houses 26 shops and four restaurants with a merchants’ association that has a decent budget to promote the entire complex.

What we have increased is our networking. Our name recognition has increased considerably with our Facebook and Twitter presence, and with meeting new people at local networking functions.

What changes did you make to your inventory mix during the economic downturn? What types of items are selling best right now?

Prior to the economic downturn we were 90% art glass and 10% metal sculpture, and we only had four local artists out of our normal 70 artists on display. We have increased our metal artists and our local artists. We found our functional art sales have increased, including items such as fan pulls, wine stoppers, bowls and vases.

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