Highlights of Summer 2019, Part 1
Well, it's early October and things have slowed down, even though the weather is actually still beautiful. The Norfolk County Fair started yesterday, and it's like a giant money funnel that sucks all the discretionary funds out of the pockets of the entire county for that week. I have learned to look forward to this predictable slow sales week, as it's a time to do some catching up and preparing for the busy Christmas season, which is not very far away (but lets not start counting down yet!)
I'm reclining with my laptop this afternoon and thinking about the summer. It was a good one, weather-wise which made for a lot of busy, happy merchants down in Port Dover! I watched a steady flow of foot traffic walk the pier, with their dogs on leash and ice cream cones in hand. Here at Liberty, ice cream cones make us a bit nervous, but we gladly allow dogs in the store! When Darryl works the store for a day, he usually gives me a rundown of all the different dogs he got to pet each day. We are not the only dog-lovers around here; I can tell because dog-themed merchandise is always quick to sell. Especially anything wiener-dog. I feel like there must be a bunch of extra wiener-dog fans out there, in addition to the number of people who actually own them...
My goal was to also see lots of the signature purple bag on the pier, in the hands of satisfied Liberty customers... And I did! A large majority of those bags this summer contained at least one seashell, since our seashell bar was the busiest section of the store by a clear margin. In previous years I had bought the seashells in mixed containers, or bags of half a dozen or more of a specific type of shell. When merchandised that way, seashells were never a very good seller for me. Then, about three years ago, I decided to set up a seashell bar, with big apothecary jars just like a candy bar, and individual prices per shell. Boy, did that ever work! People seem to love picking through a jar of shells and finding the perfect one for their purposes, and assembling their own exact mix of shells. So a pick and mix bar of genuine natural shells is now a Liberty staple.
Another thing I noticed is that people love to laugh, and they love to give gifts that will make their recipient laugh. With that in mind I brought in some more comical gift lines, such as Fred and Friends and Wit Gifts. The pottery, antiques and up-cycled furniture for which we are known continue to be great draws for us too, but I found I had little spare time to devote to making or finding items in these categories, since I was putting in a lot of extra hours working the store. Thank goodness for Barb Boyko's vintage and the Norfolk Potters Guild's consignment pieces. Some other consignment stock that we added this year are some books by local authors, and alcohol ink artwork, originals and prints on greeting cards. One notable local product is the Young Adult novel, 'The Rum Runner's Boy' by Ed Yatskoff. It takes place largely over one night of running bootleg liquor across Lake Erie. The main character lives near Leamington, and Port Dover is talked about by the characters in the book as though it's the big show. It's a great fun read!