It's a question I hear often. People walk in the shop and their eyes get big as they try to take it all in. If you haven't been in the store in person, you'd probably never guess that I have all of this neat stuff inside a store that's less than 800 square feet. I'm complimented often that the store never feels crammed or cluttered - which is a daily challenge! lol When I find a new line I have to take a good hard look around and figure out just where it will fit, and if it's not REALLY special, it doesn't deserve the space.
That said, where do I find my products? Two places - everywhere and anywhere. I know, that sounds silly, but it's true! I find products in catalogs, in industry magazines, online, by recommendation from reps, friends and customers, from other store owners, my eyes are constantly open for neat things, and I have a whole folder of possibilities.
Now, I have a pretty broad range of products - so broad that some people don't understand how they fit together. What I explain is that I go for cool, quirky, unique, and really neat stuff. I know, that seems like it doesn't narrow things down much, and that's true, too. lol
When I bought the store it was an art gallery, with a few collectable lines - namely Harmony Kingdom, the only line from back then that I still carry - and some art books and cards. The art gallery part went away with the artist who used to own the store. The collectable lines expanded some into fairies and other neat figurines, the art books morphed into art books for kids, then funny books for kids, and funny books for adults. The cards expanded and added bookmarks, magnets and puzzles. One of the collectable line companies led me into fantastically funny mugs. I've always been a huge fan of crystals and sparkles, so it was an easy transition to add chimes, crystals, glass and spinners. Pretty Tools were fun and functional, and when the same company started making Rug Coasters and then Aluminum Armor Wallets, I immediately ordered. Then I started finding more lines that I just loved. At first it maybe didn't seem to make sense when I started adding the more FUNctional products. But, well, I had to sell Poo~Pourri. It just amused me too much not to. (And it really works, too!) That somehow led to Charles Viancin - the awesome silicone lids that I honestly started carrying because I really wanted to try them. *snicker* Hey, it seemed to work, my customers love them just as much! In the last year or so I've added Manicure Sets, Emery Boards, Matches, Napkins, Finger Puppets and Soap, all very functional (yes, even the finger puppets!) but more importantly they're fun and funny. I have people in here every day giggling at the great products. Most recently I discovered the Freaker Drink Koozies and my customers immediately fell in love - as did I. So, is there a theme to what I sell? Well, like I said, I think the theme is "really neat stuff."
Again I go back to the space issue. If I see a new product that I like, first I have to love it. Second, I have to KNOW my customers are going to love it. Third, it has to fit in to my store "theme" - see above. And fourth, I have to have a place to put it! Sometimes I dream about a bigger space, but this has been our home for 20 years. It's cozy, it's comfy and I know every inch of the space. It also makes me be verrrry picky with my products, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. ;)