Carlsbad, CA Retailers Win the CHA SMART Store in Las Vegas

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John and Camille Akin, owners of Ever After Scrapbooks in Carlsbad, CA, were the grand prize winners of the CHA SMART Store. The business owners won all the fixtures, merchandise, point of sale system, signage and furnishings displayed in the store at the Craft & Hobby Association’s Annual Winter Show in Las Vegas, NV.

The SMART Group, in conjunction with CHA and SMART manufacturers, put together the first CHA SMART Store powered by The SMART Group.

Over 5,000 people toured the CHA SMART Store in three and a half days. In the end, however, only one lucky retailer would win it all. They won the displays, the merchandise, the point of sale system, the paper shaping center, the crop room, the samples, and shipping to their store location.

To ensure that the drawing was fair, an independent auditing firm, Extra Mile Marketing (http://extra-mile-marketing.com) was brought in to manage the giveaway and to authenticate the entries. All store owners in the continental United States who are current members of CHA were eligible for this prize, and they had to be present to win.

At 4 pm on February 1, in the CHA Theatre, John and Camille Akin, owners of Ever After Scrapbooks in Carlsbad, CA, won the store. John was stunned; as we watched him walk up from the audience, it appeared that he was gliding on autopilot. Camille said, “I’m speechless!” and later shared with us that she was weak in the knees. Nothing could have prepared them for this. And the most exciting part of John and Camille winning was that they are a member of The SMART Group, so they already are putting into practice the programs, processes, and principles The SMART Group knows will make this industry grow.

Over the next year, The SMART Group will be working with John and Camille to see how we can learn more about how this store format works, how their profitability increases, and how we can do things even better next year. And yes, we do plan for there to be a next year. The SMART Group is already in negotiations with CHA to have The CHA SMART Store 2 in place at the Anaheim Convention Center at CHA 2007. At that time, another lucky retailer will win the store.

The 3500 square foot CHA SMART Store was built in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center in four days. It has never been done before or even attempted by any other organization. Months of hard work by SMART staff, manufacturers, and CHA made this a reality. And, as a reality, it was the largest education and marketing effort the scrapbooking industry has ever seen! Principles like store display and design, merchandising, retail-manufacturer branding partnerships, education, business to business operations, and paper shaping and design were included in the store. With the research The SMART Group has done over the past few years, we knew that the goal had to be to improve the retail stores to show the industry what it can be like when we all work together to grow the industry.

The goal of The SMART Group is for independent retailers to have the right merchandise at the right time for the right price. To do this, they have to move their merchandise faster and increase their turn rates. This means building partnerships with fewer manufacturers who will work with them on branding products, cooperative advertising and store displays.

The SMART philosophy also means that manufacturers need to create strong retailer loyalty programs. Rewarding retailers for selling threshold levels of product and for dedicating a certain amount of square footage to them is part of this ideal. It allows the manufacturer to effectively manage their brands within the store. In addition, rewarding retailers with cooperative advertising funds that help the store to brand with the manufacturer’s trade brand is another part of this program.

Distributors are another important element of SMART business practices. They are integral in helping manufacturers to effectively manage their loyalty programs. Through their relationships with both manufacturers and distributors, they are in the unique position of managing a manufacturer’s brand while also focusing on increasing the inventory turn rates of the retailers. In this way, distributors can support all involved and increase the industry’s the profitability.

What can you do?

Whether you are a retailer, a manufacturer, a distributor, publisher, or a service provider in the scrapbooking industry, The SMART Group needs you. We are a member-driven organization that is dedicated to helping the industry grow. Through member benefits, education, and communication between these groups, we are working to improve the industry. To learn more about The SMART Group, check out our website at http://thesmartgroup.biz or email Karen Crisp, Vice President of Sales.

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Fran Saperstein
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