Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The art and science of purchasing

I'm at the State Parks Gift Show at Degray Lake Resort State Park. And, in spite of comments from people who think it can't be work for girls to shop and who know how luxurious Degray is, I am working.

Would these healthy granola treat cups
sell in the General Store?

I've seen an incredible number of other park store buyers working. Right now the lodge lobby is full of groups discussing orders, using calculators to figure on catalogs and discussing deals with vendors. Purchasing is part art, part science and it is work.

Melody and I spent yesterday making several detailed passes through the vendors. There are several new ones here this year, new lines being repped and we have some new directions at our park, with Loco Ropes and the new cooking classes.

We placed a few orders for the easy, obvious things. I wanted a few new tshirt designs and we found a great one. It comes in youth sizes, too and will stay at the lower price point that we've found sells well. You'll just have to wait until March to see what it looks like, but it is really nice.
There is a new book wholesaler with some great titles and we ordered those. We ordered solar flash lights, Burt's bees bug repellent and the mugs, travel mugs and shot glasses with a new name drop design. I found the stainless steel water bottles I've been wanting and ordered those name dropped. We ordered some new candies for the General Store.

Now comes the hard part. The research - is the Lodge cast iron at the Gift Show a better deal than the Texsport we carry now. The answer to this one, after two hours of debate and research is "no" and we'll keep carrying Texsport.

Do we want to develop a line of "Sheep poop" candies?

Sheep poop candies?

They would surely sell, along with "Tree climber's vitamins" and what ever else we can develop. It's cute, tastes good and is pricey. So... we take a catalog and go think some more. Talk to other parks. Debate. Think.

I'm going over what we've found that we like and figuring out -

1. Does this item fit in with the mission of our park?
2. Would it appeal to our visitors?
3. Is it priced at a point that we can resell it?
4. Does it expire?
5. Could it sell in more than one facility in our park?
6. How would we display it?
7. Can it be packaged with items we already sell?
8. Does it compete with any one of our existing businesses?
9. Is it in the budget?

Obviously, some of these questions can be answered with bias. If I like something, I can figure out how it fits in the park mission. But I also know that the things I like are not necessarily things that will sell.
And I know some things that I truly dislike sell well.
So, I'm off to look at some of the trinket vendors... back to work. Or maybe walk along the lake shore and soak up a bit of winter sun. To clear my head so I can think more clearly - really :-).
The lodge at Degray from the lakeside.


jean lucas said...

I am so jealous and so excited for you. Work? Ha! Yes, but such fun work

Jenonthefarm said...

Yep, it is the most fantastic job in the world and I love it!