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January, 2012

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January 2012
26-28 Phoenix
26-29 Dallas
28-30 Biloxi, MS
29-Feb 2 Toronto
Jan. 28-Feb. 2 New York
30-Feb. 3 Las Vegas

February 2012
2-6 Atlanta
5-7 Dallas
5-7 Edison, NJ
5-7 Oaks, PA
6-8 Memphis
12-15 New York
13-15 Verona, NY
18-21 San Francisco
19-21 Columbus
19-22 Edmonton, AB
23-28 Denver
26-27 Louisville
27 Billerica, MA

March 2012
2-6 Minnetonka, MN
3-5 Portland
4-6 Billerica, MA
4-6 Lansing
5-11 New York
10-13 Chicago
16-19 Overland Park, KS
16-20 Columbus
17-19 Atlanta
18-20 Los Angeles
24-27 Boston
26 Billerica, MA
31-Apr. 2 Miami

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How Much Should You Pay Yourself?

If you are like many of the readers of this newsletter you are an entreprenuer, perhaps having started your own store and maybe adding other locations, or at least hoping to grow and expand someday. Along the way, you may wonder how much you should be paying yourself. The answer depends on several factors.

First, the survival of your business is primary, since if it doesn't make it, the question of how much to pay yourself or anybody else will be moot. So most entreprenuers keep their own salary low at first, until the business is at least moderately successful and stable. It's usually wise, in fact, to wait to increase your personal income until you have seen strong performance for several months, if not years, since a downturn can sap your resources very quickly.

One independent commercial interior designer just starting out used the technique of asking how much he had to have personally to survive. He calculated that he needed $24,000 per year. In his case, he likely had savings and little debt. Your needs may very well be different, but that is a place to start. ENTREPRENUER magazine has a handy calculator that you can use to calulate your needs (click here).

Another approach is to find out what others make in your business. The average salary of a retail store manager is about $35,000 but the average entreprenuer salary is about $61,000 (source).

Then of course there is the consideration of what your company can afford. If you know what your minimum needs are and what is the average in your field, you can then determine what is realistic for your business. That will require you to examine your cash flow position, considering operating expenses such as inventory expense, lease payments, staff salaries, taxes, etc.

There's a saying that, when you are an entreprenuer, everyone else gets paid before you do. It takes time to build a stable business and reap the rewards. Perhaps you have already arrived or you are still in building mode, but if you hang in there, eventually you will be able to reward yourself for the time during which you sacrificed.


Featured Vendors
indicates a CAMEO EZ© web site.

Badash Crystal: Our broad selection of mouth blown tabletop and decorative accessories from around the world will surely meet your needs. Every piece is individually and safely boxed. We offer superb quality and value for all your gift giving, bridal and/or personal pleasure.


CAMEOEZMarketplace.com: CAMEO EZ© member stores can now log into a site one time and place orders from several manufacturers. Check back often to see more lines. One Login - Multiple Shopping Carts - Easy Checkout.


Camille Beckman is known worldwide for the quality of their fine creams and lotions. For the past 18 years, this 'Made in America' product has been rated #1 in the personal care industry and continues to offer formulas based on rich and wholesome ingredients, blending small batches and using hand-crafted, old-fashioned methods that create a difference you can feel! Being that personal care products are an indispensable item for many gift shops, Camille Beckman is a natural choice because of their 27 years of service to the locally owned gift industry.


Coast Lamp Manufacturing Coast Lamp Mfg., was established and incorporated in the state of Florida in 1955. Now, a North Carolina Corporation since 1975, located in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. We are a family owned and operated company. Our product is UL/ULC listed and approved and made in the USA. Customer satisfaction and a long lasting relationship are our goals.


The Cookbook Company: Any Bitch ("Babe In Total Control Of Herself") Cookbooks is a complete and humorous line of boutique cookbooks that are not only amusing but useful as well.


Divinity Boutique is a gift company that is focused on trendy and fun gifts that feature inspirational verse and themes.


Dr D's for Dogs: Dr. Joseph Demichael is a veterinarian who is devoted to caring for dogs but also raising and breeding dogs. He photographs his dogs and creates clever greeting cards using the photographs. The picture at left is for a birthday card with the caption "May your day be twice as nice! Happy Birthday!


Elegant Baby recognizes that today's babies are stylish, and is committed to providing baby gifts featuring the very best design, quality, craftsmanship and tradition anywhere.


Europa Home decorincluding glass, candleholders and candles for garden, lodge, awards, gourmet food, sale items and more.


Fifth Avenue Manufacturers fills the void for a better looking souvenir at a reasonable price. The company consistently stands out from the competition due to a winning combination of a strong sales vehicle, an attractive product at a fair price, and the bond of family. Products include state souvenirs and general gifts.


Gina B. Designs is an award-winning greeting card, gift and stationery products company featuring exceptional art and design. With an array of styles, variety of products and outstanding customer service, Gina B. Designs has "something for everyone."  All products are proudly made in the U.S.A.


The Heeney Company is a wholesale manufacturer and importer of floral and Christmas products. The company distributes, imports and or manufactures floral and Christmas arrangements, silk flowers, foliages and plants, dried materials, ribbons, candles and decorative accessories.


Hook Line Greetings offers the world's first patent-pending "Gift-in-Greet" Fishing Lure Cards. The company's unique and clever greeting cards contain an authentic hand-tied fishing lure as the "gift" that can be taken out for immediate fun and enjoyment. Just "release" the fishing lure from the card, tie on a line and go fish!


Highland Graphics: a leader in functional gift with decorative items for gift giving and kitchen. From our topselling Absorbastone coasters, to our decorative bamboo cutting boards, everything we manufacture is made in the USA. Our high quality plus competitive pricing lets our customers make higher margins. We feature licensed art, official collegiate products and have a full range of custom capabilities with low minimums.


Just Toilet Paper: Monogrammed toilet paper and coasters - The perfect gift for the person who has everything.


Leslie Handpainted Glass: Leslie Hand Painted Glass is Proudly Painting in Portland Oregon USA Specializing in Custom & Regionally Specific Designs - Personalized Wedding & Bridal Parties - Corporate Gifts & Events.


Nicole Brayden Gifts: a bright and trendy collection of stationary and home decorproducts. Lots of fun colors and designs offered. Introducing new and exciting "Purse Pad" stationary assortments as well as the trendy Cheeky Chic collection.


O3 USA: Founded on principles of creativity, functionality and a funky spirit, O3 USA strives strive to offer products that are unique, stylish, and, most importantly, cool. From kids' backpacks and luggage with integrated coolers, to fun accessories for the family, we hope you find what you are looking for with us here at O3!

Puzzle Pen The Puzzle Pen is the only erasable, retractable and refillable pen on the market. This product is a great, new break-thru for puzzlers. If your store has customers that play Crossword, Sudoku, KenKen, Kakuro, Magic Square, Acrostic, or any other word or number puzzle, this unique new Puzzle Pen will be a great hit in your store.


Shade Tree Greetings' "Actual Pictures" are recognized as one of the best-selling greeting card lines in the industry. Nostalgic photographs and clever, funny verses make these cards a success. Go to our website to browse over 300 styles. GREAT introductory programs and free fixtures.


snoozies!® are not socks and they're not slippers - sort of a crossover between the two and that's why we call them "foot coverings"! snoozies!® are made with a brushed fleece exterior in colorful & fun printed patterns and then lined with a soft Sherpa fleece inside.


Spring Street is proud to offer the finest assortment of personal, home, and office accessories. Our extensive product lines are all theme oriented, from baby to bride and beyond. All of our gift items are hand epoxy enameled and adorned with faux jewel encrusted motifs. Many of our designs are inspired from the famed Soho district of New York City where the very real Spring Street is located.


Stupell Industries: one of America's premier suppliers of handcrafted decorative accessories for upscale homes and offices. In business for over 30 years, our line includes a wide variety of baby products, kitchen and bathroom plaques, wall hangings, faux windows, picture frames, and other unique decorative objects. We are constantly enlarging and updating our product offering to keep abreast of the latest trends and styles in the fast-paced home decorative market.


Sunbelt Marketing Group , Inc. Licensed functional and decorative giftware for the home and tailored for the men's market, i.e. (clocks, signs, coat/key racks, salt and pepper shakers, bottle openers, shelves, picture frames, games key chains and more). Licenses include Coca-Cola, General Motors, Pepsi-Cola, Farmall Tractors, Shelby and the Shelby Ford Mustang and Dodge. Product mediums include wood, polyresin, and glass and mixed mediums.


Tripar International Inc.: Tripar International is your source for both displays and decorative accessories. Our extensive product line includes a wide assortment of easels, risers, ornament stands, plate racks, mirrors, jewelry displays, and unique display pieces. We are also an excellent source for wine accessories, wall decor, inspirational signs, and cookbook stands. We offer quality with style, low minimums and fast shipping.


Wellspring makes functional products with fresh designs for companies that sell gifts. Great fun and cute personal accessories designed for the purse, stationery designed for organization and Flip Notes- the best-selling slim notepad consistently ranked by retailers as a top 10 in sell through. Perfect 4th quarter pick up gifts at under $10 retail- a sweet spot with today's consumer. Now with collegiate logos! www.WellspringGift.com.



Excellent Customer Service for 2012

By Barbara Wold

1. Focus on the Customer: It may seem obvious that we must focus more on the customer in 2012, we all are sufficiently tempted by plenty of day-to-day distractions that divert your attention away from doing the things that engage and excite consumers about our product, service or brand.

Have a much greater focus on the customer experience and do everything you can to ensure that all of your systems, processes, programs, policies, initiatives and procedures have one end in mind: to strengthen your focus on the customer experience.

Everything you decide to do in the coming year, from a strategic, operational or budgeting perspective, must revolve around this one resolution: Putting Our Customers at the Very Top of Our Priority List ... and Keeping Our Customers at the Top of the List.

2. Focus on the Customer Service Representative: The front-line employee who interacts directly with the customer is the single-most important ambassador a company has; they should be the standard-bearers of your Company's Vision and Brand. The company's very reputation and Brand Promise must be conveyed to your valued customer.

As Customer Service Leaders, resolve in 2012 to start recognizing your front-line customer service representatives. They are your customer service soldiers in their role. As leaders, start understanding your role is to shape the resources, systems and processes as tools the front-line customer service representatives can use to heighten and improve the customer experience. Make sure you are providing your customer service representatives with the competencies and skills to do their job well, and then reward them in tangible and meaningful ways when they are successful.

Invite them to be the face of the company in a meaningful way ... then observe in wonder as they gain the ability and the motivation to knock the customer's socks off.

3. Focus on Each Individual Customer Service Touchpoint: In 2012, focus on the critical value of the singular Customer Service Touchpoint with your customers; the one interaction - the next call, e-mail or chat - the single customer service interaction that might be your one chance to carry that customer to loyalty and maximum profitability.

The power of that one customer experience touchpoint is undeniable. You have to do everything you possibly can to transform that customer experience touchpoint into a customer loyalty experience that will have the customer buzzing about the way you answered his question, solved his problem or gave him direction.

You just never know what might come out of the singular customer service touchpoint with a customer. It could be that as soon as the customer disconnects from the call, email or chat or he walks out of your store that he will forget about you. However, it could also very well be that immediately after having had a great customer service experience or a horrible experience that he tweets a message, posts something on his Facebook page or shares his experience with a party of six at lunch.

Resolve to succeed with every Customer Experience Touchpoint.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"A lot of people notice when you succeed, but they don't see what it takes to get there."
               -- Dawn Staley, WNBA basketball player

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

~ Copyright 2011. Reprinted with permission from Barbara Wold's Retail & Consumer Tips, bwold@ix.netcom.com. Barbara Wold is a street-smart, down-to-earth business speaker, presenting topics from sales and marketing to customer service and tourism. She is an international speaker who has "WOWED" over 650,000 people from all 50 of the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, India and the United Arab Emirates.


Quick Industry News

OmegaNet Inc. Welcomes Cynthia Brayton As New Marketing Manager

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA (January 10, 2012) - Cynthia Brayton has been named Marketing Manager of OmegaNet Inc. as of December, 2011. Brayton most recently served as Director of Professional Development for Savannah School of Art & Design (SCAD), where she worked in Corporate Fundraising and developed training courses for popular design and video software for design professionals. Previously, Ms. Brayton served as Director of Creative Service for Turner Network Television (TNT) and Director of Operations at Turner Broadcasting System Inc. in Atlanta.

Cynthia Brayton In addition, Brayton's experience includes New Product Development at SpaceNet, a satellite distance learning company providing training to government agencies and Business Development for Convergent Media, an online training company.

"We are pleased to welcome Cynthia to our growing team," said Toni Ivey, president and founder of OmegaNet Inc. "We believe she brings a wealth of experience and proven ideas that will be of great benefit to us as we continue to serve our clients." Brayton has launched the development and training of a sales force for OmegaNet services.

OmegaNet Inc. has built hundreds of wholesale (B2B) and retail (B2C) web sites for the Gift, Home, and Apparel industries and provides advertising and promotion services for hundreds of clients since the company was founded in 1997. OmegaNet is the developer of CAMEO EZę wholesale ecommerce and content management software.


PRODUCT INTRODUCTIONS

Plymouth, MN, Jan. 26 - Gina B. Designs, Inc. introduces "Bold Purple Flower" Stationery collection in its "Simple Blessings" line of inspirational products for spring. Shown: Perpetual Calendar, Weekly Calendar Pad, Note and Memo Pads, Mini Journals and Note Cards. All Gina B. products are proudly made in the U.S.A. SRP $3.00-$16.00.