How to add a personal touch to your store merchandise

What sets your store apart from other stores in your area, as well as your big-box and online competitors? If your merchandise selection comes entirely from the same sources, the line may be thin. But today, it’s simple to include at least a few items that belong exclusively to you by taking advantage of the many possibilities for customizable products.

Offering products that reflect your store’s pride of location is a great way to start. The magnet above is an example of the wide range of items available in the Local Love line of rock scissors paper of San Fernando, California. They offer a variety of designs ranging from mushrooms and market bikes to covered bridges and cardinals. You select one or more of these templates, add your city or state name, and choose your product. Most of their items, which include mugs, magnets, ornaments, bags, onesies, and keychains, have a minimum of 12 pieces or less.

Indigo Tangerine of Jackson, Wis., offers kitchen towels with a city or town name and the corresponding zip code(s). Our customers like to find something as close to home as their own zip code, and we’ve just ordered some with our area code as well. Of course, Indigo Tangerine and other companies also have many options with our state shape, which is great for Wisconsin, but not for rectangular states like Colorado and Wyoming.

Two other Wisconsin companies come to mind when thinking of exclusive local-themed designs. The first is Drift-Free Studios, which engraves words and numbers on coffee or cocktail cups with durable powder coated color. Another is sawdust cityan Eau Claire company offering custom wood sign design services.

You can also unleash your inner creativity – perhaps with the help of the fantastic graphic design program Cloth — and create an entirely original product. I recently created a Swedish Vaccination Card Holder and Tea Towel exclusive to our store. We are now working with Wet it to create a Swedish tea towel with a floral design by a local nonprofit to use or an upcoming fundraiser.

If you need inspiration, ask your sales representatives if they have ranges offering the possibility of personalizing the products. You can also search any of the B2B sites like Make and Abound to see what shows up under “customizable.” Once you have received your new products, be sure to let buyers know that these items belong exclusively to you.

Good retail,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder