When it comes time to purchase inventory for your retail business, much attention is paid to the choice of products. No matter what you sell, there is no substitute for having the right selection of products that customers want to buy, when they want to buy them. Knowing this, a major consideration for retailers should be finding a reliable wholesale supplier. As soon as you know which products or product lines you want to sell, it’s time to seek out the best possible source.
As many rock shop owners have told me, no two rock collectors are the same. But never was I more convinced of this as when I read a round-up of replies to the question, “What do you collect and why do you collect it?” After reading an article that recently appeared on About.com, “Readers Respond: My Rock Collecting Philosophy,” the general consensus seems to be that there is no such thing as a “typical collector.”
Rock shop owners: what will your most loyal customers be looking for this year in the area of fossil collecting? Unless you are an avid fossil hunter yourself or a regular reader of scientific journals, it might be hard to predict the future buying patterns of your customers. Outside of listening to their inquiries and taking special requests, it can be difficult to stock up on a bulk quantity of a specific fossil type.
The average person may not be aware of a stone called “labradorite,” and it might not seem like the hottest new souvenir item, but it is something about it that makes it a top pick among souvenir shoppers. Featuring the colors and luminescence of a Southwestern sky, it’s no surprise labradorite is so popular. After all, what other stone bears such a striking resemblance to a Colorado summer sky?
We’ve all been there. It’s been a slow day and suddenly a customer wanders into your store, “just browsing.” You strike up a conversation and find out they are out in search of the perfect gift for that special “person who has everything.” Whether this customer is searching for a farewell gift for a retiring science teacher, or that special addition to a child’s rock collection, you will want to be prepared with some unique ideas. Sometimes it’s just that time you take to show them a few of your latest arrivals that changes them from a “casual browser” into a customer.
As a rock shop owner or buyer of rocks and minerals, you know how important it is to have the right inventory at the right time. If your store is in a tourist area, your clientele may be looking for less expensive and locally significant specimens. But if your store is geared to collectors you may want a larger variety of unique specimens from around the world. However, one thing that all rock shops have in common is agates.
As any rock shop owner can attest, the number of high-end mineral specimens they sell is directly related to how attractively they are displayed. Some people come into a rock shop looking for something very specific, but the majority of customers are just window shopping, so to speak. These are the shoppers who are easily enticed by “eye candy,” or well-lit illuminating minerals. The same is true when people shop for diamond jewelry, which is always strategically lit to accentuate the natural beauty of the stones.
Rock shops are often the best stores to open near a geological tourism site, but there are many other types of souvenir businesses. The type of merchandise you sell will often be dictated by the demographics of the people who pass through the town. High-end shopping districts in downtown Denver will draw a significantly different customer than families passing through Durango or Mesa Verde. Knowing your customer is by far the most important aspect of writing a business plan.
Whether you’re new to rock collecting or just trying to brush up on the geological sciences, it never hurts to get back to basics and refresh your knowledge from time to time. After all, it’s hard to be a genuine rockhound unless you’re able to quickly identify a specimen. Then again, what else is a rockhound to do when it’s too cold to chisel away outdoors?
Even diehard rock collectors love to add to their collections during the holidays, and geodes are some of their favorite gifts. Despite their loved ones’ temptation to run out and purchase a rare fossil specimen or large collector’s piece, geodes are still the most affordable gift for geology buffs.
Suppliers to the rock and mineral industry realize that many of the holiday shoppers who come to your store will be unsophisticated buyers. They may come in looking for the perfect gift idea or simply to get some inspiration. Retailers need to be prepared for the shopper who wants to purchase a unique gift, and one way to do that is by stocking up on geodes.