Remember the old expression about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure. Toomie Farris, AAF, AIFD, of McNamara Florist believes it. More important, he benefits from it.
Every spring — just before the end of his fiscal year — Farris runs a mega garage sale at the 58,000-square-foot warehouse and design center of McNamara Florist in Fishers, Indiana. Up for grabs: giftware, home décor items, silk flowers, holiday merchandise, fixtures and furniture, among other treasures. (This year, he’s running a second sale next month, June, to prep for a move.)
“It’s a way for me to get rid of things, including my buying failures,” said Farris with a laugh. “With giftware and hard goods, you have to use it up, sell it or get rid of it.”
Farris should know. McNamara credits about 20 percent of its annual sales to giftware. That impressive number means Farris and his team often take risks on new products, many that pay off and some that sit around. The unsold items? Into the garage sale they go, said Farris. The same thing holds true for items that are scratched or dented, orphaned (here’s a custom candle holder without its candle) or at the end of their life cycle. (The shop frequently leases décor and silk items to companies for a three-year period. When those items are returned, they can be resold in the sale.)
The shop has been running the sale for at least 10 years, Farris said, and it’s become a popular event in Fishers and beyond, drawing people from neighboring communities thanks to posts on social media.
“It gets pretty crazy,” Farris admitted.
Here are some of his tips on how to have a successful clearing-out sale:
Promote like crazy — and prep like a pro. This year’s sale on March 25, Good Friday, drew a crowd of about 200 people in the first hour alone, and generated a total of 1,040 transactions, with sales up 20 percent over the previous year, a jump Farris credits in part to the holiday weekend, but also solid online promotion, lots of prep and years of experience. In the days leading up to the sale, Farris now visits his warehouse neighbors to apologize for the upcoming fuss, and on the day of the sale, staff members have to park off-site.
Set Your Price. The minimum discount on any item is 60 percent but plenty of goods go at cost (including plant overruns from the business’ greenhouse). Customers are thrilled with deals but Farris is a happy camper, too. “The name of the game in retail is turning inventory,” he said. “Even if we don’t make margin these particular items, we’re getting money back out of them, which we can then reinvest.”
Edit, Edit, Edit. Throughout the year Farris and his staff are constantly plucking unsold items and promoting them in sales areas and vignettes around the store. “You have to keep things fresh,” he said. And that means, moving inventory.