Ask an Expert: Pygmy Hippo Shoppe

When you’re running a brick-and-mortar shop at the same time as your online store, it adds another level of complexity to the holiday rush.

That sort of hustle and bustle is just what Emi of Pygmy Hippo Shoppe handles every day. She’s an expert at finding unique new and vintage gifts, and her customers know they’ll find something special for each person on their holiday gift list in her store. Emi helped us out with some holiday season advice.

“Don’t feel like you have to join the rat race.”

When do you begin increasing your inventory and by how much?

Usually by the end of September and the amounts vary per-item. I work very closely with all of my vendors and believe the most important thing is to have a clear open line of comminication and strict deadline dates.

What promotions do you run during the holidays?

I opened my brick and mortar shop on December 15th of 2010, so a big part of our holiday celebration is the store anniversary party! I always offer my customers (in store and online) free gifts with purchase and release limited holiday items only available during the month of December.

How frequently do you post during your holiday promotions?

Every day! It’s important to stay in the loop!

Are specific shopping days like Black Friday important for your business?

Nope. We specialize in mostly handmade and the hard to find, so the big-box store deals have never benefitted or impacted us in any way. I think it’s important to talk about that because a lot of our friends with small businesses struggle to give their clients post-Thanksgiving deals, but the reality is that if your customers are shopping small, they most likely aren’t expecting the same hook-ups they’d get at the local mall. As with any promotion, always offer what you can when you are able to show your customer appreciation, but don’t feel like you have to join the rat race to survive!

How do you handle urgent shipping requests, or orders that are too late for holiday delivery?

I’ve learned that when an order is too late, it’s sadly just too late. We’ve gotten ourselves in more trouble offering “guaranteed” overnight delivery to customers, only to have their packages show up a week late, and it’s just not worth the customer heartache. Post your holiday shipping cut off times clearly and frequently.

What do you do to relax after the holiday rush?

I close shop on New Years Eve to take a 3-4 day road trip. It’s become our annual tradition and the best way recover after all the chaos, plus it really helps me start the new year off with a clear mind.

Do you have any other advice for sellers who are prepping for their first holiday season?

As stressful and intense as it can get, it’s important to remember that you’re not performing open-heart surgery, so you’re allowed to make mistakes, just as long you take note and learn from them so you’re not a repeat offender.

Pick up some great gifts in the Pygmy Hippo Shoppe.