Kerry McCoy in the warehouse of FlagandBanner.com

End of the Year Blues | Another Sad Story | Product Suggestions, Please!

At the end of every year it’s the same, sad story – low sales at FlagandBanner.com. All the profits made in the Spring and Summer months are lost in the Winter, as I keep my staff employed and our ship erect. Sleepless nights are a given, as I ponder how long the sales drought will last.

During the busy season, we kid ourselves that this year will be the exception. That, because of our clever marketing, our customers will still be buying flags and flagpoles in the winter. But unless (God forbid) there is a war, they never do.

A few decades back, to offset this downturn, I began a retail store with the slogan: “More Than Just a Flag Store.” It sells both online and in-store Americana themed gifts, Christmas ornaments and Razorback paraphernalia. But alas, even on a busy day, these sales in no way add up to that of a big Spring festival banner job or a car lot flagpole.  With this thought in mind, my staff and I tried a different advertising approach this year.

During the marketing meeting we made a calculated decision to move our allocated November and December advertising funds from local TV and newspaper to nationwide direct mail. We designed the most beautiful 32-page catalog, showcasing our most popular, big-ticket items and mailed it to our customers. The results in November were promising, but December, it was business (or should I say NO business) as usual.

After 40+ years in the business of selling flags and banners, it is time I faced the fact “there is no silver bullet” for the winter months. The only solution I can think of is adding a new product line to our sales inventory, preferably something non-perishable that can ship out of my warehouse and, of course, sells in the winter months.

I’ve been racking my brain…Christmas Trees? (can’t afford a farm), Grapefruit? (got to live in Florida), Coffee (hmmmmm) …..Help! It’s harder than you think.

Send suggestions, please, so this sad story doesn’t repeat itself at next year’s end.

5 Comments

  1. Several things come to mind, but since I don’t know how your manufacturing operates, I’m not sure these would be feasible for your company. But – here they are:
    Seasonal items:
    October: Halloween costumes, decor, etc.
    December: Christmas lights, artificial trees, etc. I’ve been looking for reasonably priced Nutcrackers to put on my porch, but don’t want to spend a lot of money for the heavy, wooden Nutcrackers because someone might steal them off my porch! I wish someone would make a painted plastic Nutcracker (of course, I want it to look nice, so this might not be possible on hard plastic).
    February: Valentine’s Day stuff

    Another product that comes to mind, which could be year-round and very profitable, is all types of security equipment. There seems to be a lot of ‘porch thieves’ this time of year, so it would be great if someone would manufacture a small, inconspicuous, stick-in-the-ground camera that could be placed at the end of driveways to record vehicles (license plate!) as they pull into the driveway. If the cameras were motion sensor, they wouldn’t require a lot of recording storage.

    And, there’s always PET PRODUCTS!!!

    Merry Christmas Kerry! <3

  2. i read your response to the marketing staff and they loved the security equipment idea. Merry Christmas ole friend!

  3. I have worked in ecommerce for a couple of years and I’m far from an expert about it. But I do have to say that I have noticed your pricing, mostly on your web site and on Amazon, and you’re just not competitive enough–especially on Amazon, which is probably the most likely place you’d pull in a lot of revenue during the winter months if you were using it correctly. I understand that Amazon makes sellers pay fees, but being successful on Amazon is not about passing ALL of those fees onto the buyer, which is how you seem to operate. Your prices and shipping are simply too high on the one platform that could be your biggest ally right now, next winter and for winters to come.

    Think about it–from Thanksgiving through the end of December, almost everyone is shopping on Amazon–they’re NOT all shopping on flagandbanner.com or in your store. So, instead of coming up with new products, you need to be coming up with ways to leverage your Amazon seller account and be one of the sellers for your products on Amazon that people are buying from during November and December. Even if you don’t want to lower prices year round, you might want to think about it for those two months. The revenue increase you’d see from getting more sales during that time would make up for the fact that you’re giving ground on recouping fees and/or shipping. Your marketing staff should evaluate prices of pretty much everything you sell on Amazon during the winter, cut prices and/or shipping costs (or offer coupons, promotions, etc) on whatever you can compete with and just leave anything that you don’t feel you can give any more ground on.

    1. Thank you for responding and i think you are dead on. We completely forgot to run Amazon sales for Christmas this year and your response reminded us. Thank you again. I’vve put it on the calendar.
      I have a love hate relationship with Amazon, as do all retailers. lol. It is so price driven and Amazon has a hard time keeping up with false advertising from vendors. In addition it is almost impossible for the small Mom and Pops to compete. But as a consumer its the most convenient.

  4. I ordered an Army and Marine Christmas ornament this year. I would be nice if you had the newer Air Force looking ornament and of course Coast Guard and Navy. The Marine one I ordered went to friend who served in the Marines during Viet Nam who is currently disabled due to Agent Orange and requires considerable care. My thought would be for those Vets like my friend there should be an ornament for their spouses and/or families pulling the load caring for them. They are heros in their own right.

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