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    eNews:  November 7, 2018 

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Maximize Your Visual Merchandising this Holiday Season!

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender

According to the National Retail Federation, Holiday sales during November and December 2017 increased 5.5 percent over the same period in 2016 to $691.9 billion, exceeding its forecast of between $678.75 billion and $682 billion, the largest increase since the 5.2 percent year-over-year gain seen in 2010. That’s a lot of money and a lot of shoppers – to get your share you need to be prepared. And you must be ready on the big days of the season.

2018 Dates to Remember
This year Black Friday falls on November 23, Cyber Monday is November 27, and in between is Small Business Saturday, another day you should have something your sleeve to thrill shoppers who visit your store. The biggest shopping day of the holiday season in recent years is the Saturday before Christmas. The NRF reported that the 174 million Americans who shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday last year spent an average of $335 per person during that five-day period, Millennials were the biggest spenders, paying out an average of $419.52 per person. So . . .

You Store Must Be Open Black Friday
It’s the kick off to Holiday 2018 and you need to be there. Why some retailers choose to close their doors on one of the biggest shopping days of the year is beyond us. If you want to be a contender for your share of the holiday pie you need to play the game.
  • Consider running a Create Your Own Coupon event on Black Friday and let customers decide what’s on sale. You choose the percentages, they choose the items.

  • Encourage shoppers to save their receipts throughout the holidays because on Tuesday, December 11th they will be able to redeem them for merchandise at your Cash Register Receipt Auction. While shoppers are busy collecting receipts dated from November 23 – December 11, you’ll be busy collecting auction items from generous vendors.
Those receipts are worth money: Customers who spend $500 during this time frame will receive $500 in play money to spend at your auction. Of course, your store will be open for shopping with real money after the auction ends: when your sales floor is loaded with customers in the mood to buy, it’s a good idea to let them. 

Don’t Ignore Cyber Monday
Every brick and mortar retailer can sell on Cyber Monday, even when you do not traditionally sell online. Offer specials throughout the day that are only available via your social medias. If you don’t want the hassle of shipping, then go the BOPUIS route: Buy Online Pick Up In Store. With BOPIS you can post items for sale on your Facebook or Instagram and encourage followers to place their order by commenting on your post. You’ll follow up with an online invoice that can be paid via PayPal or a similar service. All it takes is a little thinking outside the box – we know you’re creative or you wouldn’t be in retailing. 

Be Prepared To Sell Big On The Saturday Before Christmas
 Super Saturday – aka Panic Saturday – falls this year on December 22, the Saturday before Christmas. That’s awfully close to Christmas, so Saturday, December 15 will be another big day. Be prepared for crowds both Saturdays. 
  • Some people let the time get away from them and hurry to finish their shopping; others intentionally wait for Super Saturday because they think the discounts will be deeper. You should react with sweet deals on items you need to get rid of so your open to buy looks good going into January, and your inventory isn’t clogged with merchandise that isn’t saleable. Packing product away until next year is almost never a good idea.
  • ¨Super Saturday is also a good day to host a “We’ve Got You Covered!” event that offers pre-wrapped gifts, lists of gift ideas for people of all ages, and free gift wrap.
Get Your Sales Floor Ready To Sell
A visit to your store is all about the customer experience; an experience that determines how long they stay, what they buy, and what they say about your store after they leave. No matter its size or footprint, your store has a decompression zone, lake front property – space on the sales floor that sells better than other areas – and a cash wrap. Let’s take a look at visual merchandising tricks of the trade you can use to set impressive displays and sell more product. 

Fixturing. The fixturing you choose adds flavor to your sales floor, but keep in mind that a fixture’s job is to house merchandise; you aren’t supposed to see it. Good fixtures make the merchandise the star. You need basic fixturing like wall units and shelving to maximize dollars per square foot, and specialty fixturing to feature important items. 

Sight lines.  Shoppers make value judgments about store within the first 10 seconds of contact. They don’t realize they’re doing it, but they are mentally cataloging whether or not they want to spend time in that space. You want them to be intrigued and anxious to enter, so start with shorter fixtures near the front and taller fixtures towards the rear of the store. This sight line allows shoppers standing near the front to see through your sales floor, drawing them to the various areas of the store. 

Speed bump displays. 
This important fixture goes front and center so it’s the first thing shoppers see as they enter the store. Load it with irresistible products displayed on a small fixture that can hold an assortment of product and is low enough to allow customers shop it easily and see into the store. Use your speed bumps to feature new and trendy items, and to tell product stories. 

Keep it simple. Shoppers passing by a display need to be able to understand its message within five seconds or less. It’s easy to go overboard, thinking “I can add this and this and this!” Add too much and all you are doing is making the display harder to shop. Sometimes the simplest displays make the greatest impact. 

Play with color.  We are naturally drawn to color so use it to your advantage wherever you can. Group bright or contrasting colors together on wall unites and free-standing displays to attract shoppers and tell a color story. 

Go vertical.  Any time you display product vertically, you expose the customer to a greater variety of the assortment at any eye level. And since we are naturally inclined to read from left to right, product that is vertically merchandised encourages purchases – shoppers will see your entire selection wherever they look. Going vertical makes every level buy level.

Throw ’em a curve.  Visual Curve Merchandising involves the use of slanted shelves to increase the customer’s strike zone – the amount of product the customer sees in just one glance. Without realizing it, the visual curve forces the shopper to look up and down at the product as well as forward. 

Aromacology.  Remember that old retail adage: “If it smells, it sells”? Turns out its true: Researchers have found that a pleasant-smelling environment has a positive effect on shopping behavior. We all respond to good scents – they have the power to evoke memory. Who hasn’t gotten a whiff of something familiar and been instantly transported to another place in time? Aromacology is the science of scent and its effect on our minds and moods. Grapefruit, for example, will give shoppers a burst of energy, vanilla will calm them when the store is hectic, pine inspires positive feelings, and cinnamon is said to attract money. So put out the potpourri, or better yet, purchase a diffuser. ScentAir sells every fragrance you can imagine, plus unobtrusive diffusers you can tuck away anywhere on the sales floor. Your list of things-to-do for Holiday 2018 is probably as tall as the fixtures on your perimeter walls, but you definitely need to make one, and then work it item by item. If you need ideas for in-store events and promotions, email [email protected] and they will send you 10 turnkey event templates to help you get started!

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at


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8 Holiday Shopping Trends to Watch
from blog, September 2018
by Rachel Eng

Last year, the National Retail Federation reported a $691.1 billion total consumer spend during the holidays, up 5.5% increase from 2016. Online spending grew at an even faster rate, with a 11.5% year-over-year increase. If history holds, the 2018 holiday season will be another record-breaking year for shopping.

With big opportunity, comes big risk. It is critical for brands and retailers to take advantage of this surge in shopping and to meet and exceed their sales goals during the winter season. To do this, brands, retailers, and agencies must understand how consumers prefer to shop, what motivates them to buy, and what retail and marketing experiences appeal to them during the busiest shopping season of the year.

To understand consumer behavior at the holidays and what trends might be emerging to shape the upcoming season, we partnered with Wakefield Research to survey 2,500 U.S. adults to learn more about their holiday shopping expectations and preferences.

To complement the survey, we analyzed holiday shopping data across our network of more than 6,000 brand and retailer websites. We examined purchase paths, research behaviors, and shopping patterns across different product categories and time frames to gain further insight into when people shop for what and for how long.

Based on this research, these are the eight biggest holiday shopping trends impacting the retail industry during the upcoming season.

1. Black Friday dominates the holiday shopping season.
Despite the fact that holiday shopping and sales start earlier and earlier each year, Black Friday continues to be the biggest shopping day of the season, coming in as the most popular shopping day for nearly every product category we studied. Last year, our Network of 6,000+ brand and retailer websites saw a record-breaking $1.3 billion in sales on Black Friday, and online traffic was the highest of the season, accounting for a 203% lift in average traffic and a 116% lift in conversion. Consumers confirm the popularity of Black Friday too: more than half of shoppers surveyed named it as their primary holiday shopping day.

Tip: Black Friday falls earlier than usual this year on November 23rd. Before starting any advertising and marketing campaigns, make sure your product pages are in good shape with completed information, high-quality photos, and fresh consumer-generated content (ratings, reviews, photos, and videos from previous customers). Consumers will be doing their due diligence in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving weekend by researching products and checking prices, so make sure the information they need to inform their purchase decisions is available.

2. Thanksgiving Day is giving Cyber Monday a run for its money.
For the first time, our Network saw higher purchases and revenue on Thanksgiving Day than on Cyber Monday. Thanksgiving Day brought in $1.2 billion in sales, while Cyber Monday accounted for $912 million, down noticeably from $1.3B in 2016. Furthermore, Thanksgiving was the highest day for mobile sales at $624 million and had the highest average order value, even beating out Black Friday with these numbers.

Tip: If you sell products online, make sure the shopping experience is as easy and straightforward as possible. On Thanksgiving Day, consumers are likely shopping online from home, in between time with family and friends, so they don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort making purchases. Consider serving up personalized product recommendations and integrating your social media with your e-commerce experience; both tactics make the path to purchase shorter and more direct for consumers.

3. Mobile shopping will continue to set records this holiday season.
Last year, mobile accounted for more than half of the online traffic to most product categories. During the five-day Thanksgiving weekend shopping spree, mobile accounted for 55% of all pageviews and 44% of all revenue. Traffic from mobile peaked on Christmas Day, with a second, smaller spike the day after, particularly in the holiday decor category.

Tip: Around big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, many consumers use their phone or tablet to shop online from the comforts of their couch. In addition, many shoppers are using their phones in-store to compare prices, check item availability, and read customer reviews. To capitalize, make sure your website and marketing and advertising campaigns are optimized for mobile and that your brand is active on social media throughout major holidays.

4. Toys and games continue to be popular gifts, but they’re not just for little kids.
Toys will probably always top holiday wish lists. Last year, of the twenty product categories we looked at, the toys category saw the highest conversion lift with a 605% increase during the holiday season.  However, teens and adults can play with toys too — video game consoles had the second highest conversion lift at 461%. Black Friday was the biggest online traffic day for both, with toy traffic at 4.1X and video game console traffic at 7.8X higher than usual. Both categories also see steady traffic leading up to December 25th, meaning that the entire month of December is an important time for toy shopping of any kind.

Tip: It is critical to target your customers based on their shopping intent, not just traditional demographic information like their age, gender, or location. Many different types of people will be shopping for toys and games during the holidays. A woman without children may still be purchasing toys, whether Legos for a niece, a Nintendo Switch for her boyfriend, or a donation to a toy drive. If someone is perusing retailer websites looking at different video game console systems, reading customer reviews, and leaving a Nintendo Switch in their shopping cart, this is the type of person you want to target with a video game-related advertising campaign.

5. Some consumers have a plan of attack for their holiday shopping, while others go off impulse.
When it comes to the holidays, there are two types of consumers: the planners and the spontaneous shoppers. In our survey, 59% of respondents categorized themselves as a “prepared shopper,” meaning they plan out the gifts they want to buy in advance. This group starts making their shopping lists, looking for sales, and stocking up on gifts and supplies an average of 42 days ahead of the holidays. Of note, one in four shoppers gets a head start of two months or more, meaning holiday shopping season will soon begin.

On the other side of the spectrum, 42% of those surveyed said they do not plan what they are going to buy ahead of time and prefer to browse and buy as they go, with 34% reporting that they do not make a gift list in advance. Across both groups, impulse buying is common: 57% said they are more likely to shop impulsively during the holidays compared to the other times of the year.

Tip: Plan for both types of holiday shoppers. For example, for the planners, incorporate wish list functionality into your website, so they can save items they plan to buy, and deploy early bird advertising campaigns well in advance of the holidays. For the spontaneous shoppers, display an assortment of stocking stuffers and last-minute items close to the point of purchase, whether it’s near the checkout line in your physical stores or via product galleries and carousels on your website. To capture this group through advertising, focus campaigns around the dates of major shopping spikes for your category.

6. In addition to physical gifts, consumers are gifting experiences.
While the majority of shoppers plan to give physical gifts to their loved ones this year, nearly one in three plans to give meaningful experiences as gifts. Craft-related gift experiences were the most popular (47%), followed by food-related (45%) and travel-related (41%) experiences. Perhaps related to the travel-related experiences, the luggage category saw a 133% conversion lift during the holiday season compared to typical, with spikes around Thanksgiving week and the first two weekends of December.

Tip: Take note of this growing trend and target promotions and campaigns around this emerging, non-traditional category. Millennials in particular would likely respond well to these campaigns, as almost half indicated that they plan to purchase experiential gifts during the holidays.

7. Shoppers find gift inspiration everywhere.
There is no one singular way that consumers find inspiration for gifts. When searching for gift ideas for others, 61% of consumers are inspired while browsing online or shopping in store, 54% by recommendations from friends and family, 43% by advertising, 30% by product recommendations based on past purchases, and 27% by social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. The wide variety of channels speaks to the many ways consumers get gift ideas during the holidays.

Tip: To reach shoppers wherever they are, you must have an omnichannel strategy in place. Every touchpoint with a consumer is an opportunity to provide inspiration. Since recommendations from friends and family are a top source, see how you can incorporate influential customer reviews across your marketing mix, like incorporating them into word-of-mouth online ads and highlighting them on social media.

8. Don’t underestimate the power of the holiday spirit.
According to our survey, consumers associate shopping during the winter season as an integral part of getting into a festive holiday spirit. Of holiday shoppers who brave the crowds and shop in-store, 42% of them said they do it to enjoy the festive ambiance, and 32% consider special holiday activities, such as visiting Santa or ice skating, important to the in-store shopping experience. In regards to Thanksgiving weekend, 35% shop on these sales days to get into the holiday spirit, and 25% say shopping on sales days is a family tradition.

Tip: Whether online or in-store, delivering a positive shopping experience is always important. During the holidays, it is even more critical. In-store, incorporate festive decor and activities that not only attract shoppers but also entertain them. If your advertising campaign is driving in store, measure the impact of your holiday ad spend with an offline attribution partner. Online, an efficient shopping experience should be the priority, but consider how you can spread holiday spirit  — curate a holiday-themed playlist that consumers can download, showcase inspiring gift guides, or allow shoppers to celebrate the season of giving by donating to a charity at checkout.

By the Numbers

Consumers say they will spend an average $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1 percent from the $967.13 last year, according to an NRF survey. They will spend in three main categories — gifts at $637.67, items such as food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards at $215.04 and non-gift purchases made because deals are good at $154.53.

from National Retail Federation - Holiday 2018, October Survey

Notable Quote

"An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one."

Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929) was an American sociologist. He studied and went on to teach economics and sociology at the University of Michigan, and he was a founding member and the eighth president of the American Sociological Association.

 Art Advocacy

A growing body of evidence indicates that providing Service members and Veterans with opportunities to express themselves and share their stories can help them cope with the visible and invisible wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and depression.  Art, more specifically, offers a nonverbal outlet of expression where many Service members find their art to become an extension of themselves and their thoughts. - from WarriorCare Poster

See More Facts about Why Art Matters

Visit for resources and facts about Advocating for the Arts. Read about Art News like this article below which can be found on the Art in US News Page.

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New Product

Slice, Inc.

Slice® Craft Knife 
(Safety Cap)

Protect your tool and yourself with Never-Lost™ 

Craft knives are indispensable tools in many workplaces: R and D departments, manufacturing floors, and biomedical labs, to name a few. Wherever detailed cutting, scraping, or chiseling is required, a craft knife will do the trick. But craft blades are notoriously dangerous. While Slice’s finger-friendly® safety edge significantly reduces laceration risks, punctures risks still exist, especially since some applications require pointed-tip blades.

The obvious solution is a safety cap. But how long do most caps stay with their knives? The Slice 10589 Craft Knife introduces our Never-Lost™ safety cap design. This sleek protective cap is integrated with the handle. It locks in a protective position when the knife is idle, then twists and locks out of the way during use. An outer notch prevents the tool from rolling off your work surface, regardless of the cap’s position.

"Based on the 10548 Craft Knife, this newer version includes all the same great features, with the addition of a cap that will protect you and your tool. Like the original craft knife and our 10580 Precision Knife, the 10589 features a cross-hatched copper collar and a lightly weighted handle for stability and control. And, like all our tools, the 10589 works for everyone—lefties included." - TJ Scimone, Slice founder and CEO.

The 10589 Craft Knife is a versatile detailed cutter, compatible with all Slice craft blades: seam rippers, chisels, and pointed-tip or rounded-tip cutting blades. About Slice At Slice, we know what goes into a safety knife. Our commitment to safety shows in our innovative designs, including our patent-pending finger-friendly blade edge. Our holistic approach to safety includes ergonomic tool designs. For tips on building a strong safety culture, read our weekly workplace safety blog.

See more on the New Products Page

Welcome New Members

A 2019 Art Materials World Exhibitor
Founded over 30 years ago, Multimedia Artboard is an art material company that specializes in creating the highest quality and innovation painting surfaces for the fine art community.  

A 2019 Art Materials World Exhibitor
Today is Art Day started as a social media feed, its founder David Beaulieu shares a fun story about an artwork or an artist to make art history more accessible. More than 80,000 followers are part of Today Is Art Day's community. In 2017, Today Is Art Day launched the Art History Heroes collection of action figures depicting famous artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Leonardo da Vinci and many more. In 2018, the company launched its first board game called The Grand Museum of Art.

Located in Frenchtown, New Jersey, Little Engine Studio is the studio of Heather Brady and Nate Walker.  Little Engine Studio is both an art making studio and supply shop.

It's a space for exploration; for learning more about ourselves, our neighbors, and the world we share.

Member News

Ben Lapin has been promoted to President of Speedball Art Products Company.  Ben started with Speedball in 1997 as Chief Financial Officer and later took on responsibility for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service.  In 2006, Ben became Chief Operating Officer and led the integration of several acquisitions while strengthening Speedball’s core business. 

“Good is never good enough” with Ben, he pushes himself and all of Speedball to achieve the very best. Everyone at Speedball is looking forward to seeing the results of Ben’s energy and passion in his new role.


Namta regularly searches the web for articles and stories that may be of interest to members.


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The Role of a Manager Has to Change in 5 Key Ways
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