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  • Meet the Makers Stocking Your Shelves: Podcast

    Every day at The Grommet we tell the stories of innovative products and the brilliant Makers behind them. But we don't have time to get everything. There is only so much we can pack into a two minute or 200-word story.

    Wholesale podcast blog
    That's why we started the Meet the Maker Podcast: to take a deeper dive into Maker stories. Tales of hardship, determination, and a never-ending quest for success. It gives you a chance to get to know the people helping stock your shelves so that you may share it with your customers.

     

    Doug Danforth and AtticusLINKS-IT wants to take a major hassle out of pet owners' lives. No one looks forward to changing out pet tags, including the pets. They're so difficult to remove some owners end up with bloody fingers and all deal with seemingly endless frustration. But changing them is essential. Now it can be painless thanks to Doug Danforth and the LINKS-IT pet tag connector.

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    Duke Cannon is on a mission to create a brand of men's grooming products that don't suck. Learn how founder Anthony Albanese used his brand marketing background with Gatorade and Life cereal to conduct customer research and build a soap company with which the average American guy wouldn't be embarrassed to buy from. And if you're looking for a Valentine's Day (or any day) gift for your loved that doesn't suck, might we recommend a big ass brick of soap?

     

    Meet the Maker of Bittersweet in The Grommet's Podcastbittersweet is a hair tie bracelet giving women with long hair an elegant piece to hold the elastic. Hear how Arni Thor's hair tie bracelet Christmas gift to his wife, Shireen, with the help of a misinterpreted Google translate, created a venture neither of them expected but both were ready to undertake. When they partnered with The Grommet they took Bittersweet to a level neither of them imagined.

     

    (best)FounderPhoto_5Yoga by Numbers originally launched in January 2014 but is back with an exciting new update: an app letting you practice wherever you go. YbN founder Elizabeth Morrow sits down to discuss the new development and her unplanned path to entrepreneurship.

     

    Meet the Maker of Bevy on The GrommetBevy by Lineage Labs is a revolutionary photo storage device transforming the way you organize and share photos. Hear from founders Firdaus Bhathena and Nancy Smith about the origins of the company, the key features differentiating Bevy from the competition, the device's airtight security, and, above all, the user experience of Bevy, which is as easy to use as taking a picture.

     

    Meet the Maker CuppowCuppow does all its design, development, packaging, and manufacturing in Massachusetts, where Joshua and Aaron tapped a team of fellow entrepreneurs at Fringe, a business incubator and coworking space in Somerville. It’s a community effort, with universal drinking appeal.

     

    Think BoardThink Board is the creation of college student and entrepreneur, Hanson Grant. Hanson wanted something that would allow him to write down his ideas without taking up to much room in his dorm. The result is Think Board, a clear film turning any surface into a dry erase board. Hear how he juggled classes, a Kickstarter campaign, and a business operation.

    Like what you hear? Rate, review and subscribe on iTunes.

  • How to Easily Build a Web Presence for Your Store

    You’re rooted in your store, the one place where customers can find you and what you offer in the flesh. But more and more you hear you need to be online because that makes you accessible to everyone, and accessibility’s increasingly becoming the name of the retail game. However, establishing an online presence doesn't have to be as scary as it sounds and you can do it easily in a way that makes sense for you. Win-win!

    internet for retail store

    A successful online strategy is one whose goal is to drive traffic to your store. People walking through your doors equals sales, it’s a tried and true business formula. The key on the web is to give people a sample of the experience you offer. Here are a few tools to get you started.

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  • A Closer Look at Byer of Maine

    Sleeping cots and bird feeders? It might seem like an unusual product lineup, but Byer of Maine makes it work. And with their unique textures and vibrant colors, it's easy to create a visual, emotional connection with their entire line of goods.

    Hammocks, outdoor furniture, and bird feeders–Byer of Maine ties all of their outside products together with attention to detail and fine craftsmanship from around the world. 

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    Their bird houses and feeders double as artwork, made from mango wood or heavy duty porcelain.They have sculptural looks with features that cater to avian needs, while helping humans hang and clean them, too. Continue Reading

  • The (March) Madness of Owning a Store

    It’s the season of brackets so I filled out my own. Not for the NCAA basketball tournament. That’s easy. Michigan wins, end of bracket. I’m told that would be “busted.” Mine is a bracket of skills one needs to succeed as an entrepreneur or in your case, as a Retailer, owning your own store. Much of what I say below, while specific to myself as an entrepreneur, is directly applicable to running your own business. Here we go...

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    Sweet Sixteen

    Opportunity Region

    (1) Tenacity over (8) Charm

    A slam-dunk. There will be legendary hills and valleys in starting a business and when you’re sitting in a room by yourself going crazy, charm will get you nowhere. Every single day you need tenacity.

    (3) Energy over (6) Intellect

    Similarly, you need energy day in, day out. You’re a battery cell for the rest of the team. The leverage of your energy is much more useful than intellect. You need intellect, but it doesn’t excite your team.

    (4) Salesmanship over (5) Financial Acumen

    Salesmanship beats financial acumen because you can hire financial acumen. You can also teach it to yourself. Salesmanship is more innate. However, one fallacy about salesmanship is it’s a type of person. Lots of personalities can be killer great salespeople. It doesn’t have to be an extrovert or someone who likes to backslap; it can be anyone if they can establish a rapport and credibility in their idea.

    (2) Resourcefulness over (7) Courage

    You can be a successful founder and fall into a puddle every night due to a lack of courage. Courage isn’t an inherent quality. But resourcefulness, especially early on, is essential. It’s trading low value assets for high value assets. Our team at SXSW put this into practice. With a tighter budget than most, they couldn’t throw money at the problem but still had to make an impact. You can judge for yourself how they did.

    A more extreme case was our early office furniture. It was largely rejects from failed startups. I’d be driving around on the weekend, find a chair on the side of the road and pick it up. Seriously. Here’s my blog post detailing what our Director of Wholesale, Jason McCarthy, called our chairs: Sh*t on Wheels. We had to work and sit somewhere so we found a cost-effective way to do it. You need that constant bartering mentality.

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  • 10 Products to Survive Festival Season

    The Grommet team hit SXSW last week as a mobile resource (more on that later) for attendees supplying everything from water and swag bags to the unique and helpful items below. If you missed us or aren't attending, don't worry, this survival guide will be handy for any multi-day festival or excursion. Your Coachellas, Bonaroos, and trade shows, you get the idea, now here’s what you need to get to prepare.

    Tips for SXSW - Juno JumperTips for SXSW - SunJack

     

     

     

     

     

    Keeping Your Phone Powered, Clean, and Within Reach

    You know you’re at SXSW when you look around at a brilliant outdoor festival and everyone’s on his or her phone. We don't judge. We supply battery life.

    When JunoJumper isn’t jumpstarting a car, it’s charging a phone four times. Don't let the sun burn you, harness its energy with SunJack to dish out power to your devices. To wipe off the sweat, dirt, dust, and anything else your screen attracts, iRollers will keep your phone looking sleek. And in order to avoid everyone’s worst nightmare at an event like SXSW, TrackR Bravos will find any missing phones, keys, and/or wallets in minutes.

    Tips for SXSW - Your Phone

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  • 5 Reasons to Attend Regional Trade Shows

    A busy shopping season approaches by the day, but currently, you still probably find your store in a sluggish state. You might be wondering how you can make productive use of your time and that is completely valid. We have a suggestion: attend regional shows.

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    Now regional shows aren’t as sexy as the national markets held in the summer and winter, but they can be more effective. Here’s how.

    New Makers. Attending regional shows in other regions but your own allows you to take advantage of smaller and newer Makers no one in your community has heard of yet. It provides the chance to offer a more expansive and varied collection of products in your store compared to those around you. Of course, the con is cost. It can be expensive to stay in hotels and travel. If you do find yourself in that predicament, find shows closer to home. You might see more competition, but it also gives you the opportunity to strengthen local relationships.

    Nice and slow. One of the biggest negatives for larger shows is the overwhelming nature of them. There is so much vying for your attention, you tend to get lost and miss things, which is a trade show nightmare. With smaller regional shows you can take your time. You can have longer conversations with Makers, get a deep sense of a product that interests you rather than a brief snapshot, and you won’t be throwing elbows to see a display better. That’s always a plus.

    Build Relationships. Although risky, you're more likely to have better access to brand spanking new Makers and products. You might be able to get customized products for your shop. You could even offer to be beta testers for their products then you both win when you can test out their new lines on your customers. If you help support the little guys, they’ll be more inclined to help you back. Don’t forget, these Makers are learning the ropes of their own line so they're more likely to listen to your feedback. 

    Calmer Networking. Networking is a giant piece of any trade show. At national shows, it becomes a bit of a Western style shoot out as you struggle to whip a business card out of your holster as quickly as possible. The luxury of a smaller show is it’s an easier and calmer time networking with other Retailers and Makers. You can also have longer conversations. Meeting isn’t such a huge issue either because, literally, it’s a smaller show. No need to be racing around five 20 floor buildings.

    Local Flair. Products at regional shows, no surprise, tend to be more regional. So while you're most likely going to be carrying similar products as your competitors, take advantage of the opportunity to build out a better display since you know the area and the people. If you’re in Boston and see some lobster dishes, you won’t be the only one carrying them, but you can be the only one displaying them with a lobster trap. If you’re in Arizona, display some local jewelry on a saguaro. (It's like a cactus.) That will certainly deter stealing. Using local props to display local merchandise, that's where you can beat your competitors.

     

    Are you a Retailer interested in sourcing innovative products for your store? Apply to The Grommet Wholesale here.

  • Who’s got your business' back in the State House?

    Owning a small business means constantly having all hands on deck. There’s tons to do in-store and online between inventory, purchase orders, and making sure everything is running as normal. Your list of day-to-day tasks can cause instant effects on your business. But what about all of the other factors that affect your business like community affairs, insurance, legislation, and policy? Do you have a handle on those? And if you don’t, where do you begin?

    If you’re not a member of your state's branch of the National Retailer Federation, you might not know there’s a group of people who make it their business to help your small business grow. Think of them as an incredibly knowledgeable friend who is looking out for your best interests and has connections to government. These organizations specialize in making policy briefings palatable, creating partnerships for their members that save them money, and providing representation for their members in local and national legislative bodies.

    Retail Tips from The Grommet Wholesale

    Retailer Associations are often annual memberships, which means you can opt in or out for each year, but the benefits are clear. You can expect assistance with health insurance cooperatives, credit card and payroll processing, and financial services just to name a few. Along with having advocates who work to promote pro-small business legislation, associations will notify you of relevant policy that is subject to change or debate and a portal to contact your local legislator directly on the issue. It’s a super easy super highway for letting your voice be heard when it comes to the issues that matter to you most.

    The Grommet Wholesale is a huge fan of the Retailer Association of Massachusetts and the activism they’ve done to extend state tax to out-of-state online retailers. It’s moves like this that will level the playing field and help our communities and local businesses thrive. In their own words, RAM’s top priorities are to “provide our members with valuable regulatory and policy briefings, money saving tools, and highly-effective representation on Beacon Hill.” We like the sound of that! In fact, The Grommet Wholesale has partnered with RAM so that members receive a discount on their orders just like Cambridge Local First.

    Having someone with your interests at heart is great. Having a team of people dedicated to creating space an opportunity for your business is the best case scenario. If you feel like you need a hand keeping up to date on state and federal policy, or you want to explore some money saving options for health insurance or payroll processing, talk to a representative of your state Retailer Association or check our their member benefits online.

     

    Are you a Retailer interested in sourcing innovative products for your store? Apply to The Grommet Wholesale here.

  • 7 Tips for Driving Traffic to Your Store During the Slow Season

    The holiday season is long gone and as a store owner you probably find yourself in a limbo period before the next big spending season that Mother’s Day ushers in. The challenge many store owners face during the slow season is simply driving traffic. Well, we at The Grommet Wholesale, have a few ideas.

    Retail Marketing Ideas From The Grommet Wholesale

    Host DIY nights. Offering your community educational opportunities in crafting, home improvements, or projects can pique interest without the pressure of a sale. People will show up because it is an interesting event and, when there, will naturally get an idea of what your store offers. Of course, getting a sale is what keeps the lights on so look at your inventory and see how you can use what you carry in the project or demonstration.

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  • Joining the Local First Movement Can Help Your Bottom-line

    If you haven’t already done so, joining the Local First movement is a great strategic step in promoting your business and increasing your revenue. Local First organizations are non-profit networks comprised of independent businesses that educate consumers in your community about the economic benefits of shopping locally.

    Local first

    You and I know the importance of supporting local businesses, but some consumers remain unaware that independent retailers return three times more per dollar of sales to the economy compared to chain stores. I mean, it’s hard to blame them. With the exaggerated ease of online shopping and discounted prices of large chains, if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to forget what a neighborhood would be like without independent businesses.

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  • Trends from New York Toy Fair 2016

    If it’s February 14th in New York City with temperatures in the single digits, that can only mean one thing…New York Toy Fair!

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    While there was no powder on the ground this year, there was a flurry of interesting products some we’re extremely excited about for The Grommet Wholesale.

    Fresh out of the gate from the Spielwarenmesse in Nuremburg, I got a glimpse of the toy trends from country to country. They seem less like trends and more like circumstances of history, but I won’t get into that debate here. The point is, wooden toys and design hold status in Germany, which is not usually the case in the U.S. market. While efforts are in motion to bring that manufacturing back stateside, it was challenging to find the ever-important fine print, “Made in USA”, at this show.

    If you don’t have too many meetings lined up, it’s possible to walk the show in a single day, 9 am to 6 pm, with a lunch in between.

    The toy awards here highlighted larger company products, nothing particularly unique stood out besides the usual suspects of large brands.

    One particular thing I heard in the majority of my conversations was the serious concern of third party online resellers. Almost every company I spoke with shared a frustration and even skepticism about online methods. "We don't work with resellers, we got destroyed by them." That hesitation turned to intrigue when I explained to them how we are the complete opposite of what they feared in an online partner. We're not...the rain forest, if you catch my drift.

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