Friday, November 30, 2012

Day in the Life of a Retailer at the Holidays: Day One

Hello friends!

Over the years, many, many people have asked what it's like to run a retail store.  As such, since I'm now blogging (can you believe it!?!), I thought I'd give you a snapshot view!  This will be a twenty-five day series, with one post per day between now and Christmas...hopefully! 

I'd be honored if you share it with your friends and spread the word about The Menagerie.  This is my 34th Christmas as a retailer, and, I must say, the past four years have been the hardest.  For those of you who have been with me all this time, thank you for your loyalty!  And for those of you who are newcomers, thank you!  You are what make us great!

XOXO, Vickie

A Day in the Life of a Retailer during the Holidays: Day One

My days begin at the crack of dawn - literally.  Before I'm even out of bed, I'm on my phone checking emails and text messages.  There are always messages from employees and vendors, but my favorite messages - of course - are the personal ones from customers/friends.  They are one and the same for me, and, my hope is, they all consider me their friend!

I often tell people I have the luckiest job in the world, and I do.  I get to help people find the perfect gift, hopefully for everyone on their lists!  During December, you can almost always find me at the store, though sometimes I'm at Hobby Lobby trying to find more ribbon for our store decorations (I confess).  I NEVER buy enough ribbon!  (Did you know that last November and December we wrapped over 3,500 gifts!?!  All with our complimentary gift wrap service, of course!)

The trick during December is making sure our inventory levels hold.  Manufacturers have started carrying less stock, so it's a constant balance to make sure we order enough.  This year alone, we've sold through three orders of some of our most popular stock!  That's why I always tell people: if you love it, buy it.  Don't put it off. 

Therefore, much of my day is spent monitoring my head!  The trick is, at the end of the day, remembering what is selling and what needs to be reordered a.s.a.p.  (That's the 7 a.m. phone call to my East Coast vendors the next morning!)

Check back tomorrow for more about maintaining balance during the holiday season, and, on day three, how we find the unique gifts we carry during the holidays. 

Hope I'll hear from you about any of these thoughts.  Leave a comment or shoot me an email (  Along the way it is you who have taught me valuable lessons about gracious living.  Thank you!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Tis the Season

I think it's fitting that my first-ever blog post would be about Christmas, my favorite time of year.  Why do I love it?  Because of what the holiday season is all about: faith, family, friends, and, yes, gift-giving.

We at The Menagerie have become experts on gift-giving over our more than thirty-four years in business.  As such, I thought I'd share a few of the bits of wisdom we've gathered, to keep in mind as you're making your lists and checking them twice!

Your gift doesn't have to be big; it just has to be heartfelt.
One of my all-time favorite gifts is our $12 bird vase that sits small at less than two inches tall.  Perfect for a desk or bedside table, we tell our customers to give it with a personalized note that reads: "a little birdie told me it was your birthday;" or "a little birdie told me you're having a bad day."  Gift it with a single rose bud in it, and you've made someone's day!

When in doubt, choose something you love.
We have many customers who pick a favorite gift - something they've received before, perhaps, or given with great results - and then simply call us to have it wrapped and delivered* whenever they need a present sent to a friend or loved one.  We keep personalized enclosure cards on file, so they don't even have to come into the store if they don't want to!  Here's one example of a go-to baby gift: our hand-calligraphed Prayers for Children book by local Austin artist Fran Chibib.
Keep it simple.
If you're having a hard time deciding what to get, go back to the tried-and-true basics that every woman loves: presents like diamond studs or roses in a crystal vase (we'll even arrange the flowers for you!). 

Whether you're looking for a baby gift, a sweet sixteen present, a twenty-fifth anniversary present, or a Christmas present, I know our team of dedicated gift specialists can help you find the perfect gift.

I hope to see you in the store or on the web soon!

*And don't forget, we offer complimentary gift wrap in our signature peach box, and complimentary delivery within the Austin area.