July 2004
Collectibles — Worth Your Time? By Carrie Burns

Are you collecting your collectibles or selling them?

Ah, remember the days of Beanie Babies? Beanie Baby magazines, books, games — they were everywhere, and everyone wanted them. It was a no brainer to sell them. But, just as fads do, Beanie Babies died down. So, what’s the secret with collectibles? How do you know when to say goodbye, how do you know when to stay loyal and how do you get customers to buy them?

Study the Gift Industry

Magazines. Just as you read Lawn & Garden Retailer to find out all of the latest happenings in the world of garden centers, there are gift magazines that cover the gift industry. While, you wouldn’t read it cover to cover, there are many interesting facts that pertain to your gift department. But, most importantly, as the world of collectibles is ever changing, these publications can offer the latest trends and facts. If the collectibles you provide in your garden center aren’t doing so hot in most gift shops, it’s pretty safe to bid farewell to that space filler in your garden center too.

Some magazines to take a look at are Gifts & Decorative Accessories (see sidebar, right), Giftbeat and Custom Gift Retailer.

Where the People Are. You’ve most likely been to most of the industry trade shows, but how often do you actually stop at the collectible booths? The industry shows are some of the best places to see what’s new. Malls and gift shops are also great places to see what consumers want. Venture through some of your local malls and gift shops to see where the crowds are.

Peers. As are most ideas are in this industry, the best ones come from within the industry. Talk to your peers to get a feel of which collections are selling best in stores similar to yours.


So when it comes to your collectibles, are you doing anything to sell them, or are you just putting them in a glass case and leaving them there to collect dust? Just like your green goods, water garden accessories, etc., collectibles need to be merchandised with signage and other alternatives. Here are just a few suggestions.

Events. Host a monthly or bimonthly event for collectors who purchase collectibles from your store. There are chat rooms and other things out there for people with these kinds of things in common, which goes to show you that people with similar interests love to talk about it. They also love to show off their collections and see what others have that they’re missing. You may even get a few extra sales that night if you keep the registers open.

Newsletter. You may already have a newsletter. Create a section in the same place with the same name, look and feel in every issue that’s devoted to collectibles. Think of a clever name customers can remember and look for when they get the newsletter in the mail. A few suggestions: Collection Corner, Collector’s Corner or Coming Collectibles. Let customers know when you have a new piece in, when one is scheduled to arrive, when your next collector’s event is or any other news involving collectibles.

E-mail. Just like newsletters, E-mail can inform customers of any collectible news. Again, you may already send E-mails, so this could be pretty easy for you to add.

Collectibles are a touchy segment of your business, but with a little work and creativity, it can be a top-selling segment.

Carrie Burns

Carrie Burns is associate editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. She can be reached by phone at (847) 391-1019 or E-mail at [email protected].