TOP RETAILER/BEST COMMUNITY OUTREACH

The Muse

Whitney Bingham, owner
Frederick, Md.

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

My business started to slow down mid-summer 2008, but I have had a strong 2009 so far and am back to where I would like to be. One thing I did was add more consignment merchandise to the mix. It’s allowed me to fill the store with fresh new merchandise without the expense and risk.

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

I feel that the economy is improving. The public’s perception seems to be that it is improving, which is the most important factor as it has a direct effect on business.

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

I advertise in publications with a longer shelf life such as the annual tourism guide. I also do an ad in our local monthly and quarterly magazines. I consistently keep in touch with my current customers through my monthly e-newsletter “Museings.” I can track the opening rate on the newsletter as well as the click throughs, so I know that the newsletters are working for me.

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

I think it is important to stay positive and not bring your own fear or negativity into your place of business. Customers will pick up on it. You don’t want to remind them in any way of a bad economy. They need to feel comfortable and confident in their purchasing decisions.

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

I have definitely noticed a much higher transaction number per day than in years past, however the dollar per sales are down. It seems that in the past a customer might buy the matching bracelet and earrings to go with the necklace, and now they are being more selective and choosing one of the three.

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