The Mid Summer Clearance Sale
( Originally Published 1902 )
Twice a year almost every retail establishment has a grand clearance sale in which all the odds and ends of a six months' accumulation of business must be swept away by the mighty brooms of little prices and good advertising.
One occurs in January or February-if you remember I treated of it in a previous article—the second occurs in July or August, and a few remarks regarding it are now in order.
The advance guards of the fall stocks will soon be trooping in-they need the shelf and counter room now taken up by the fag ends of summer and spring stocks. The latter must be rid of—there is one way to do it and that is by a well-aimed advertising splurge and with prices so small that they will induce every bargain-loving man, woman and child within a reasonable radius of your store to visit you.
Department stores, shoe stores, clothing stores, haberdashers, hatters and many more of the retail stores will find this summer clearance sale, if well directed, a strong impetus to their trade.
Let us first take general dry goods and department stores. Newspaper advertising is the best advertising, of course, but it may be supplemented by effective bill-board advertising, with window and interior store display.
A very excellent method is to take a four or five inch single or double column space—according to your advertising appropriation—and announce the sale two or three days in advance. This will tend to put people in a receptive mind for your big half or full page ad which comes out in all its glory, generally on a Sunday.
Give a good display to the top headlines and headings. I would advise that this top piece run clear across top of ad. Have the items set in uniform style beneath. Have two double columns squares with items and prices on the two most important departments on extreme right and left sides, directly under main heading, thus giving the centre columns, single columns each, to less important departments. If you take a full page try to carry out this arrangement throughout. Now after this short talk about grouping the items and prices, allow me to make a few other general suggestions.
Tell clearly and pointedly in your general headline that this is your "Great Mid-Summer Clearance Sale" or "Semi-Annual Clearance Sale" and give your reasons for holding this sale. It is a good rule to never advertise a sale of consequence without giving a reason for that sale. People are unconscious analyzers of sales-they like to look for reasons—superficial or profound. Give them reasons when you can.
Do not overcrowd the ad. Have the whole arranged symmetrically and effectively. I wish I could insert in the body of this article a good half page or page example of some of the good clearing sale ads which I have in mind, so as to illustrate this point.
Keep this sale up for one week anyway. Fire your great shot off with the first big ad-the succeeding ads need not be so large. If the first week's sale panned out all right, and you think you can give it another week's whirl, go ahead and do it. You are the best judge. Every advertiser—every merchant
every business man must in a measure be a law unto himself. Just the same he can pick up important points on special subjects by specialists. As a rule this mid-summer clearance sale lasts two weeks. I have known extreme instances where it has been. stretched as long as a month.
Use cuts—good, strong, clear talk-pay nice attention to type, rules and borders-back up your ads with attractive window displays-get up special department exhibits—have plenty of plain black and white price tags, paste proof of your ads in conspicuous points in your establishment where the clerks, customers and floor managers can easily refer to them, and if your goods are demandable and dependable, you ought to be able, after the sale is over to have your decks cleared for fall assortments, and have some more ready cash in your bank.
Three or four good double half column or two full column ads on a clothing sale would do lots of clothiers good just now. Or, better still, if you can afford it—come out with a half page clothing clearance sale and supplement it with three or four good ads to follow the first big ad. The life of the clothing special sale depends upon individual conditions as in other sales. In the matter of items be clear and satisfactory—it is better to slop over a little on the details of the garment advertised than to say too little. In no line of advertising are cuts more necessary than in clothing.
The summer season is not over yet by any means—and many an impecunious young man who has not secured a summer suit by reason of " the stringency of the money market," will be very likely to grasp a good opportunity to get this suit when properly presented in a good live ad.
Before starting in on your " Great Clearance Sale " or any other sale it always pays to sit down and do some thinking. Call in your various buyers, after you have given the subject some consideration—they will give you many good points. Never fly off on a tangent or go off before your gun is quite loaded. Have all the details of your sale well mapped out in your mind—then when you are ready to act you can act so that results cannot escape.