Article: Mike and Sean's Adventures in Retail

02/20/2020
by NEAFP Co

Mike and Sean's Adventures in Retail

Carolina Alpaca Celebration 2020 Edition

 

Mike and I spent last weekend attending and vending at the Carolina Alpaca Celebration in Concord, North Carolina. This year thousands upon thousands of alpaca enthusiasts attended the show to see the alpacas, watch some judging, and check out the latest and greatest alpaca product offerings. In my 15 years of attending and vending at alpaca shows, this was by far the most general public I’ve seen in attendance. Hats off to the Carolina Alpaca Celebration show committee for getting the word out to the general public!

Normally 99% of our time spent at shows is talking with new alpaca farmers, showcasing our latest alpaca products to existing members, and running the fiber collection. With an overwhelming amount of general public, we spent much more time than usual hanging out with end consumers on the retail level.

Here are our main takeaways from working a more retail focused alpaca show.

The demand for the “Alpaca Brand” has never been higher!

Over 40% of our retail customers bought at least 1 item that did not contain any alpaca fiber. T-Shirts, our new Insulated Alpaca Tumblers, Keychains, and Mandala Magnets all were great add-on purchases and sold in high volume alongside our Socks, Inserts, Textured Slouch Beanies, and Fingerless Gloves. The Gift and Accessory Alpaca branded products did particularly well with retail customers under 40, and extremely well with customers under 25.

 

 

With over 250 retail transactions throughout the weekend, the add-on gift and accessory items really helped bring our average checkout amount up, boosting overall retail sales for the show.

When we asked the retail customers if they had heard of alpacas before attending the show, over 80% of them were at least a little familiar with alpacas!

Educational Signage and Banners Helped Sell!

From 9am until 4pm on Saturday we had anywhere between 5 and 12 people inside our booth browsing and shopping our alpaca wares. One thing we noticed quickly was that having good signage that quickly conveyed the benefits of alpaca, the story behind our business, and what makes our alpaca products stand out in a crowd, allowed us to close more sales without individually guiding each customer through the process.

This proved hugely beneficial with the amount of foot traffic walking through the show and our booth, allowing us to answer specific questions while checking out customers.

Signage that proactively answers the most common questions about our products put in prime spots throughout the booth really helped us sell more throughout the weekend.

Repeat Customers are a Testament to Good Products!

This was our 5th year attending the Carolina Alpaca Celebration Show and it was great to reconnect with retail customers from the area who we had previously encountered in years past. Many people came up to the booth, some even wearing what they bought last year, proclaiming to us how great the product was and they were back to buy more for themselves, family and friends. That type of repeat business can’t be beat, and it’s a testament to the great properties of alpaca fiber and the quality products it goes into producing.

The biggest repeat product sales for this particular show came in Socks, Inserts, and Knitters Yarns.

Our highest volume alpaca product sellers to all retail customers were: Survival Socks, Backpaca Hikers, Textured Slouch Beanies, Knitters Yarns (led by DK Weight and Unicorn Yarn), Boot Inserts, and Fingerless Gloves.

The Story Behind the Product is so Important!

One thing we consistently heard from retail customers is that they loved that our products were Made in the USA with U.S. Grown Alpaca. By walking through the animal pens, watching the alpacas in the show ring, and then checking out the finished goods, they all felt a bit more connected to what they were purchasing and exactly who and what they were supporting. North Carolina in particular seems very interested in supporting U.S. Grown, U.S Made agricultural and textile products. We repeatedly heard retail customers asking each vendor "Where is this made?" throughout the entire weekend.

When we are at shows, we’re there to service our farms who contribute fiber and retail our finished alpaca products. It was a nice change of pace to put on our alpaca retailer hats over the weekend and get some first hand experience on things we’ve already been hearing from all of you over the years!