Archive for the ‘supplies’ Category

By Jeff Pett, Fleetwood Group

As a manufacturer in the school furniture market, the NSSEA School Equipment Show is our biggest show each year.  We talk all year about what our plans are and what we are hoping to get out of it.  We have had a good show this year.

I think most people who are here would agree that the show seems to be smaller than last year’s show. It felt like the traffic in the aisles was way down, and the booth “footprint” felt smaller.  If you came here hoping to set up your booth and draw in new prospects, this had to have been a disappointing year.  None of that, of course, is not a good thing.  However, as a manufacturer of furniture that is too big and heavy to drag around the country showing off to your dealer-partners, we use this week to show new ideas and products while training new dealer sales people.  And this year was a bonus for us since we recently added two new sales team members, so they got to meet many of their key contacts this week.

Our top 30 dealers account for over 90 percent of our sales and most of them were here this year.  If you wandered by our booth you saw a very busy place most of the first two days.  Relationships were renewed or created, there was some “surprise and delight” new product ideas, and generally we had a great week.

One more thing that I found interesting was the number of people in the show hall “before hours.”  I don’t remember seeing so many groups taking advantage of that time for dedicated group meetings in their booths before.  And while there is some extra cost involved, it is a great way to have uninterrupted quality time with bigger groups of customers.

Hope you were in Phoenix this year, too, and that you had a great week, too!

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NSSEA is partnering with the Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) for the 2010 School Equipment Show next month in Phoenix, AZ. The Kids in Need Foundation supports a national network of 25 Resource Centers that benefit needy students by allowing teachers from low-income schools to “shop” for school supplies free of charge. Resource Center merchandise is provided by monetary and in-kind donations from generous businesses and individuals.

This year, the School Equipment Show donation will benefit Treasures 4 Teachers, located in Tempe, AZ. In July of 2010, a storm hit Tempe, AZ and left the center without a building or the supplies needed to continue its mission.

To participate, complete a Donation Form and email or fax it to Lesley Walton at 937.296.1215 by Friday, November 12.

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By: Rebecca Haden
A Plus Educational, Harrison, AR

 Back to School spending was down this year across the board, even compared with last year, when it seemed that consumers were as nervous about spending as they possibly could be.  An overall 7.7 percent decrease was expected – and consumers waited longer than usual to do their shopping, too, with more than half of U.S. families reporting that they hadn’t completed their back to school shopping on the weekend before classes began.

Electronics expenditures showed one of the highest drops – 4 percent — along with clothing and toiletries. Calculators were the exception, showing the only rise in sales. School supplies of the kind most of us sell, including books and pencils and general school gear, was down only about 1 percent.

Teachers still average about $500 a year in personal spending for their classrooms, national surveys say , but many of our teacher customers rely on school funds for their shopping with us, and the personal funds go towards  yard sale bargains, hand sanitizer, and even food.

Schools? According to the American Association of School Administrators, school budgets are up this year, but not enough to offset the rise in fuel and food prices, nor to balance the loss of sales tax revenue from the lowered spending of consumers. In terms of funds available for classrooms, a quarter of schools reported cutting their spending.

Overall, there was less money to go around. But there’s a ray of hope in the other big piece of news in the reports of this year’s school spending, which is that people are waiting. We still have shoppers out there.

How can we make sure to get our fair share of the remaining back to school funds? What we’ve done in the past may not do it.

  • We have to make sure that teachers see the value of what we’re offering them. We’d better make it clear that the bulletin board sets are educational, the books of reproducibles are jam-packed with usable stuff, and the storage options are better than Rubbermaid.
  • We also have to make it fun. You know which industries are still doing fine? Makeup, gourmet chocolates, fancy pens – people still feel like splurging, and if they can’t splurge on the big stuff, they’ll splurge on the little stuff. Have the coolest impulse items you can find at your cash wrap.
  • We have to build the base of loyalty for the rest of the year. When our regulars come in and spend less, we can get frustrated and think about cutting back on service, but that would be a mistake. As things improve, we want to make sure that we’re still the ones our customers want to shop with.

Truth to tell, we’ve had a good Back to School, and spending at the online store more than doubled since last year. We know we need to be grateful. We also know we need to keep our strategy in mind. Business pundits are saying that the winners as we come out of this recession will be, quite simply, the survivors.

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