Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges asked small-business owners when and how they start preparing for the holidays. This is what they said.
• “We do begin planning for the winter holidays in July,” Kesha Dozier, co-owner of The Chocolate Boutiques, which sells Belgian and Swiss chocolates and gifts in its North Raleigh and Morrisville locations. “Gift sets and recipes are designed and finalized by early September. Our additional staffing for the holidays is also completed by this time. It is our busiest season for corporate and family chocolate parties and reservations for November and December holiday parties open in July or August.”
• “We bulk up on our kitchen, storefront and catering staff starting at the beginning of October,” said Tudi Jackson, owner of Ladyfingers Caterers, a full-service catering and retail storefront in Raleigh. “That way we are well-trained for the holiday tsunami. Ladyfingers also extends our storefront hours during the week as well as Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate everyone’s hectic schedule.”
• “While everyone is vacationing over the summer, we take that time to plan out the rest of the year,” said Jen Hankin, spokesperson for consignment store Joint Venture Jewelry and women’s clothing shop Peachy Keen Boutique in Cary. “We already have all our visiting collections, sales, fashion shows and special events planned. Once back-to-school hits, the holidays aren’t far behind for retailers.”
• “The holidays are the busiest and most lucrative time for retail stores. So anticipating your customers’ needs and having an amazing staff is really important to a successful season,” said Kaitlyn Herold, owner and buyer for Dogwood Collective, a women’s boutique in Raleigh. “We start our holiday buys in the summer months. ... I try to diversify (our merchandise) a bit … and incorporate more gift items, cocktail attire for those holiday parties and make sure we have plenty of bags, ribbons and gift wrap as an added service for our customers.”
• “We plan our holiday shopping season in the summer. … We strongly encourage (customers) to make custom purchases for Christmas presents by mid-September,” said Lisa Stewart, owner of Lisa Stewart Designs, which sells leather goods, fine arts and gifts. “ … Because we make everything one at a time in our Raleigh studio and shop, the mid-September dates gives us time to make the perfect present for their loved ones.”