What did we learn at the Lansing Gift Show?

The Gift Show was in March.  Primarily, I was hoping to see trends, talk to all kinds of people and get my head out of the store and into looking at things in a fresh and creative way. This is why I make time t go to trade shows.

But going to the Lansing Gift Show as a presenter was a first for me.  I usually go as a buyer. Not that I’ve never been an exhibitor – I did that in my former life selling computers and software.

But, my mission in Lansing was to learn how I could inform and encourage other retailers to think about using gift wrapping as a means of setting themselves apart from the “Big Box” stores and expanding their services to their clientele.

That’s a tough sale – because gift wrapping is an expense, not generally a revenue producer. And, it generally take a sales person away from selling – unless you are able to hire an additional staff to do the wrapping. In this economy, where would you put your dollars?

So that’s the question I posed to independent retailers from Michigan who had come to Lansing to buy for their stores.

What I learned, and they did too, was that it has to fit their business. I gave demonstrations on how to wrap and how to make it worth their while. We proposed that they could start out slow. Choose one color that would “brand” their business and add a seasonal change of ribbon. Then maybe graduate to a rack of papers, one for everyday, baby, birthday, wedding, and paper suitable for a gift for a male…maybe just gold, silver or white.

Many retailers rely on their bags stuffed with tissue. I explained that was OK – a cost effective and efficient solution.

I was able to offer feedback I have received over the years where customers were a bit underwhelmed when receiving an expensive purchase, like a $500 duvet set maybe, as a wedding gift, and all they got was a logo’d gift bag, tissue and bridal tulle.

So, the retailers that understood the message were quick to ask how I could help them improve their wraps without breaking the bank.

And I learned that there are many devoted and dedicated retailers, spending time to bring their clientele the best of the best.

It was a great three days. I met great manufacturers and sales representatives. I got to talk to any and all. I learned as much as I shared.

But the biggest part of this experience – I was reminded that sometimes you have to step back and look at things from a distance.

So that old adage – you can’t see the forest for the trees – still holds true.

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