Advertising - Other Mid Winter Sales
( Originally Published 1902 )
Immediately after New Year's comes a lapse of business—a tired feeling that begins with the customer's hard hit holiday pocketbook, then spreads quickly until retail channels are infected to a degree that causes the enterprising merchant to look about for a remedy for torpid trade.
" The Mid-Winter Mark-Down Sale" is a panacea that properly applied has never failed to produce results. Thousands of American retailers are unanimous in this.
"The Mid-Winter Mark-Down Sale" sometimes masquerades under other names. It can be recognized under the name " Big Clearance Sale," it may be noted under the cognomen "Special After-Holiday Sale," and it sometimes exists under the caption, "Mid-Winter Merchandise Movement."
But whatever may be its heading, its purpose is the same. Its purpose is to pull in purchasers. It disposes of the leftovers from the holiday stocks—the slow sellers of the fall and winter supplies, and incidentally whatever regular goods that can be moved by a big sale and small prices.
The main point to keep ever in view while preparing for a big sale like this is to see that everybody—from the head of the house down to the most humble employee-is well injected with the event's enthusiasm. Even a cash boy can be so keyed up that extra quick returns of change and parcels will delight customers. The delivery force should be added to-the clerks should be ready to do a little more than usual and the managers of departments should see that the inside displays, window exhibits and price tickets are such that the advertising produces not only promises but performances.
Ah! promises and performances. What a world of meaning is there only too often between the two! Give the public a page of print and promises and a quarter page of performances, and there you have some " merchants'" idea of advertising.
How long should the sale last? That depends on a number of matters. Bad weather may spoil a sale-an insufficient quantity of goods may cause it to die-at all events the best judge is the merchant himself, who knows his trade and resources better than anyone else and is good enough judge to tell whether he is or not making money.
A man squeezes a lemon as long as the juice lasts. The business man carries on a sale as long as it pays.
Assuming that all the details of marking down prices, bringing goods forward, arranging show windows and making counters, shelves and aisles magnetic with price tickets and displays have been attended to let us see what the advertising department is doing to swing success.
The chances are that arrangements are being made to begin the sale on Monday with a bargain broadside in the Sunday papers. Friday's or Saturday's papers had a small card bidding everybody with an eye for the main chance to watch the Sunday papers for full particulars.
For the week prior to the big Sunday ad the advertising manager and artist are busy in their respective lines of effort—the first going through the store and observing the price drops in the various departments, conferring with buyers as to the relative cost of spaces and the amount of space to be apportioned to each department, making arrangements with newspapers concerning positions, write ups, etc.—the latter applying all his artistic ingenuity in producing illustrations that will assist the text and enthuse possible customers.
Monday comes, and if the weather is propitious the first day's business is a fair criterion of the trade to follow "The Mid-Winter Mark-Down Sale."
Many houses supplement their newspaper advertising with poster advertising, street car advertising, card advertising, etc., etc. As to the relative merits of these various forms of advertising I will not here attempt to discuss, simply remarking that were I advertising the sale the newspapers would get practically all the appropriation.
A successful mid-winter sale is a great business tonic. It purges the business system (to use a patent medicine metaphor) and puts every pore, every sinew, every artery and every nerve in shape for the soon-to-be-spring trade.
The Winter Sale of Blankets "—" The Annual Sale of Shirts "- — " The Semi-Annual Sale of Muslin Underwear "—" The January Sale of Office Furniture " are some of the mid-winter mercantile movements you see from time to time advertised throughout January and February.
Every one of these sales is the result of well studied plans. Nothing is snap-shot. Weeks in advance of the exploitation in print arrangements were made in the wholesale market whereby certain lines of goods could be had at certain prices. Manufacturers had to produce quantities of specialties—have them ready for delivery at a specified time and make a net wholesale price so as to help making "The Great Sale " the success it generally proves to be.