Need More Customers? 3 Ways to Attract Them

Small businesses, approximately 4.5 million, are Main Street small businesses. These are the dry cleaners, independent retailers, mechanics and medical clinics that form the fabric of our communities. Main Street busi

What Is Your Digital Retail Personality?

Want to find our more about your digital retail personality?
Do people look to you for creative genius?
Or is it your razor-sharp analytical mind that makes you an irreplaceable asset?


To learn more take the Digital Experience Workshop retail personality quiz.

With just 5 short questions, they’ll tell you what kind of retail pro you are.


Ivystone Showroom Wins “Best of Floor” for Visual Display

A wonderful joint collaboration with their design team and vendors is exactly what earned Ivystone’s Atlanta Showroom the“Best of Floor” visual display award for the 18th Floor, AmericasMart, states Nancy Lee, VP of Marketing and Showroom Merchandising for Ivystone.  “In order to create an overall esthetic in our showrooms, it’s very important for us to understand and bring to life the vendors’ vision as well as making an overall visual statement of the showroom” explains Lee.   Nancy, along with team members Holly Hoffman, Roumy Entchevska, Kelly McComiskey, Luis Cabrera and Danny Cortez keep in mind the goal of having good traffic flow for the buyers and an overall cohesive feel when trying to brand multiple vendors as well as Ivystone.  “A lot of thought and work goes into developing the showroom layout to accomplish styles, colors and themes that energize and excite our visitors. I like to think of the showroom as an irresistible department store where customers can imagine and indulge in all the possibilities for their retail stores”.

Ivystone_Atlanta_Showroom_LookBook_2014If you missed visiting Ivystone during summer markets in Dallas, Atlanta and Philadelphia, be sure to check out their Las Vegas  Showroom, Bldg C- Room 696-July 27th-31st.   If you’re not attending Las Vegas market you can follow Ivystone on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for live updates from the show and more.

Ivystone’s Atlanta Showroom Look Book

For more information on Ivystone’s Showrooms  and products visit

Creating an Exceptional Brand — Stories From the Real World.

The unexpected can often earn your business surprisingly incredible word of mouth results. 

In other words, trophy-Exceptional Trophyworthy “FREE” marketing.

Take a look at what these brands are doing to create memorable and exceptional experiences for their customers. 

Stay on Trend With the Pantone 2014 Fashion Color Report

For more than 20 years, Pantone, the global authority on color, has surveyed the designers of New York Fashion Week and beyond to bring you the season’s most important color trends. We are bringing you the report of the most prominent hues for spring 2014.

Designers are taking a modern twist on the traditional for spring 2014 by pairing soft pastels with vivid brights to create a colorful balance. Inspired by a mixture of blooming flowers, travels abroad and strong, confident women, designers use color to refresh, revive and defy conventional wisdom.

“This season, consumers are looking for a state of thoughtful, emotional and artistic equilibrium,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “While this need for stability is reflected in the composition of the palette, the inherent versatility of the individual colors allows for experimentation with new looks and color combinations.”

Be the trend setter you want to be by using and introducing these beautiful hues into your 2014 gift, home décor and fashion merchandise.

Pantone 2014 Fashion Color Report

If you are looking for direction on 2014 products for your business, please contact the professionals at  Ivystone and Simblist  for assistance.

Pantone Fashion Color Report-Spring 2014

Pantone Fashion Color Report-Spring 2014



Combating the Showrooming Effect- Study Results for Brick & Mortar Retailers

Much research is being done to highlight both the challenges and new opportunities faced by traditional bricks and mortar retail today, as it attempts to adapt to the new multichannel retail environment and the ever-present ‘showrooming’ effect.

Below are results of a survey on how retailers are perceived by shoppers.  At the heart of the study lies a retailer/customer communication breakdown, which has turned many of the less progressive bricks and mortar stores into frustrated retailers who are uncertain on how to improved their sales and customer experience.

By standing up and facing the new reality of traditional retail then focusing on your business strengths and distinct competitive advantages, retailers will find the way to adapt to the changing landscape.  

With 75% of online shoppers reporting that retail staff ‘fail to communicate well’ and only 50% of click and collect customers believing that ‘retail staff explained products and services’, it is little surprise that traditional retail is struggling.

Customers are information hungry, price savvy and demand exceptional service. Unless they can engage with an empathetic, informed retail professionals, chances are they could take their business elsewhere.

“The modern sales journey often involves a range of touch points, with buying decisions based on a mixture of online, in-store and mobile engagements. For in-store retailers, to add genuine value to that journey is a question of training.  Staff need to be better informed, better guided and sufficiently empowered, so they can meet customers’ ever evolving expectations.” comments Christine Knott, Managing Director of Beyondtbtraining.

In contrast to technology staff, whose knowledge is trusted the least, 78% of customers said that they think retail staff in DIY and Garden Centers are the best at understanding the products and explaining the benefits. A finding that underlines the positive contribution of retail staff sufficiently trained and equipped, to deliver the depth of knowledge and service shoppers demand

Knott concludes, “There are clear opportunities here for retailers prepared to empower their staff with targeted, knowledge based training and clear brand values. Not only is it the way forward, service is key to helping in-store retail play its full part in the new multichannel environment.”

4 Ways to Grow Your Email Marketing List

Email is still the top choice when it comes to communicating to your current and potential customers.  So obviously growing your email list continues to be critically important to your sales and business success.

See the stats and guide on Email below proving this channel is currently the best way to communicate and drive sales for your business:

Email has the highest return on investment.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) puts email marketing’s ROI for 2011 at
$40.56 for every $1 invested. This compares to catalogs’ ROI of $7.30, search’s
return of $22.24, Internet display advertising’s return of $19.72 and mobile’s
return of $10.51. The final figure for 2012 is predicted to be slightly less, $39.40,
but email is still the runaway leader.

Buyers prefer email to other communications channels.
A 2012 survey of consumer channel habits and preferences found 77%
preferred to receive permission-based promotions via email; only 6% preferred
such messages via social media. A similar survey of UK consumers found 69%
with a preference for email as the channel for brand communications.

Buyers make more purchases from email communications.
66% of online Americans say they have made a purchase as a result of an
email from a brand, more than three times the percentage of people who have
purchased in response to a message delivered via Facebook (20%) or text
message (16%).

Be patient. Slow and steady will win this race.
If you create a culture of email address acquisition and maximize all your touch points, you will grow a very healthy list.  If it’s smaller than the list of other businesses in other industries – that may just be the nature of your area/business.  What matters is that your list is healthy and productive enough to deliver the sales growth you need.

Read this brief paper and examine the ways to do just that.

Guide to Help You Grow_Your_Email_Marketing_List

Please let us hear your ideas where you have successfully grown your email list so we can share with other small businesses in the gift and home industry.

Gift & Home Trade Market-Experience the Excitement and Energy (without actually being there)

The winter markets have just ended but the excitement continues with great product introductions and promotions from gift and home vendors.  Enjoy the feeling of the world’s largest marketplace for gift and home products.   Carry on the excitement by contacting one or more of the Ivystone or Simblist sales reps in your area to get more product details!



Lessons From the Past….Simple Vision for the Future

Listen to the Past…

I recently had the pleasure of having a conversation with a retailer who had 70 years’ experience. I am telling him about how retail has changed and how hard it is now for retailers and he informs me of the changes he saw. His name is Jess and he should be charging for his sage advice.

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Jess and I both proudly live in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky. When Jess returned home after serving during World War II he started selling shoes door to door. As he told me “back then people didn’t come to town that often, you had to go to them” After the roads got built in the 50’s and 60’s and people could easily drive to town Jess opened a retail store. After a number of years of running a successful retail store in the 70’s Jess had to change once again. This time he had competition from the mass retailers. This time Jess offered better quality and better customer support. Up to the time Jess finally retired and closed his store at the age of 75 he could still remember your size and what kind of shoes you like.

Jess’s advice to me and I am proudly passing it along to you.

“Business will change. You can either stay ahead of the changes or get run over by it.”

Which lessons learned from your past business experience would you pass along?

What one key change is your business focusing on right now?

For more information on POS and Business Solutions contact Shawn at:

Shawn Thompson

Independent Retailers Across the USA Show Off Their Patriotic Pride!

Patriotic merchandising techniques and messages appeal to the “pride in our country” emotion buried somewhere in all of us.  The eloquent words of Abraham Lincoln summarize it well “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

Abe’s message did not directly refer to displaying, buying and consuming patriotic merchandise, however in the present day, our ability to demonstrate our love of country through patriotic products is both traditional and satisfying and appeals to each of us on an emotional level.

Most folks have many fond memories from childhood celebrating patriotic pride throughout the summer. Traditional family gatherings, flag waving, parades, fireworks and a visual picnic of stars & stripes are a staple of the festivities well before we even realized what patriotism meant.

Now that we have grown in our own individual understanding of patriotism, we take the time to enjoy the holiday that allows us to embrace our own adaptation of patriotism for our country and particularly show our gratitude for the people who have served to protect our freedoms.

Some of America’s most creative independent retailers have joined our Pinterest Display Contest by sending in unique photos of their Patriotic Displays.

We Want You to show us yours……snap a photo of your favorite patriotic promotional display that conveys your sense of national pride and join the ranks of fascinating folks and stores across the country who have shown us theirs.

You could win $1000 of wholesales products for your retail store by sending a photo to Patriotic Display Contest before July 4th!   You will be featured on our Pinterest page with the winner being featured on Pinterest and all of our social media channels.

Sunburn I this have a morning. Some wearing I the about the, this, my nail sticking in they.

Hurry….contest ends on the 4th of July!!!!