Owners ask for discounts, work together to control costs

vbridges@newsobserver.comAugust 19, 2013 

Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges asked small-business owners how they control costs. This is what they said.

•  “When ordering your regular supplies that you will always use, ask your vendors if ordering a higher quantity at one time would give you a significant price break. Sometimes you can receive a 40 to 50 percent discount on these regularly needed items. Just stock up and save,” said Stacey Chapman, general manager of The Print Shop, which provides print and framing services in University Mall in Chapel Hill. “Make sure your advertising reps know to advise you about special publications with discounted rates, and especially group pages that position like businesses together, while saving all of you a little money for grouping together. Get your neighboring businesses on board with you.”

•  “When we were first starting up, a huge part of controlling our costs was knowing that nearly everything is negotiable. If someone is offering you a service or product to help you with your business, it never hurts to ask if there’s any room in the price or if they can create a custom package for exactly what you need (and eliminate anything you don’t) to bring down costs,” said Theresa Chu, co-owner of Durham’s Barley Labs, which makes all-natural dog treats from recycled beer grain and sells them online and in stores in North Carolina and Virginia. “Now that we’re further along, it’s all about knowing our own numbers (cost of goods sold, profit margins, etc.) and using those to make financial projections and create budgets.”

•  “We buy upcycled display pieces and shelves from Habitat for Humanity,” said April Schlanger, co-owner of Sip…a wine store, an eco-friendly retail wine and beer store and bar in Cary. “It cuts down on display costs, is eco-friendly and we support another local business. We also make signs using chalkboard paint instead of using paper.”

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