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Gifts Galore for Bookstores

Posted By Wanda Jewell, Thursday, July 16, 2015

Welcome to our new column in the Bargain Book News (BBN).  The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and the Great American Bargain Book Show (GABBS) have partnered up in many ways that have proved beneficial but we mostly want all of our efforts to benefit booksellers and with that goal in mind, BBN has agreed to give us a little space in their popular, far-reaching newsletter.  So, a few housekeeping details.  We are hoping to benefit all booksellers but a few columns may be SIBA-specific and we’ll let you know up front when that’s the case.  We’d also like to invite booksellers to offer up guest posts if you have an idea or concept that you’d like to share, simply email

Today’s column will deal with gift items.  SIBA has maintained a list of great gifts for bookstores for many years. Now residing on Pinterest, you can visit the Pinterest Board again and again for ideas of things to sell in your shop. You can also send me items that are doing well for you, so that I can add to the board and share them with other stores.  Check out Gifts Galore for Bookstores!  The GABBS show is a great way to venture into the gift market as it is held over the same weekend in the same location as the Atlanta Gift Mart and GABBS offers Field Trips for first-timers with seasoned gift buyers.

Here is what I have heard from stores about gift buying over the years: 

·         Look for small minimums.  You don’t want to commit a ton of dollars to a single item. 

·         Work with sales groups.  Much like commission groups, they carry lots of companies in their bag and you can sample across companies on the same minimum. 

·         Remember you are buying wholesale and the retail cost will be more.  It is easy to get caught up when you can buy something for $6 but remember you will want your customer to pay upwards of $12. 

·         Start small.  Buy a few items and see how they do. 

·         Watch your turns and replace slow moving items with something new and mark those items down.  What’s so wonderful about gifts is you can mark that $12 items down to $9.99 and still make a profit.

·         Talk to other booksellers.  Use your regional or the ABA’s forums and listservs to ask other booksellers or simply email your bookselling friends in other regions or states and see what’s moving where they are, and what companies they like. 

·         Don’t forget impulse buys.  Put items like chocolate and magnets near the cash register.  Don’t sell anything for less the $1.  Make sure there is something to shop for while folks are waiting in line to give you their money.

·         Look local.  Check with your local artisans for items that would work well in your shop.  It’s a great way to connect with community and support the local art scene.

If you are not ready to plunge into the gift market in store see about affiliating with someone on-line and putting some items on your website that can be ordered online and you will get a small percentage of sales.  This is a good way to “test” for items that would be popular with your customers.

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