Retail's New Reality: Affordable Luxury

Posted by: John Tozzi on December 24, 2009

One more dispatch from the retail world before Christmas. Mathias Eichler, owner of the small home and kitchen retailer Einmaleins in Olympia, Wash., reports that he’s seeing more buyers, but they’re spending less on average. Items under $25 and stocking stuffers are very popular, while bigger ticket items are not moving. December sales are up 12%, but the number of customers he has is up 30%.

Eichler sees consumers less panicked than last year who have made peace with their diminished spending power. “I think people now feel a little more confident not necessarily in spending, but in their situation. They have come to terms with this new reality. Based on that, they’re a little more confident to operate within their means,” he says.

He’s trying to position his store to appeal to shoppers looking for “affordable luxury,” like small gourmet food and useful kitchen items. “Low cost high quality wine glasses, practical baking dishes — we’re trying to find items that are practical, affordable and make sense,” he says.

It appears to be working. Einmaleins topped last year’s sales and expects to end the year up about 18% on sales of about $135,000, Eichler says.

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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