Saturday, March 12, 2011

When boutique products get Targetized... and our new line

Long-time customers may have missed buying their Caldrea homekeeping products at Pomegranate these last few months, and we're sorry we didn't have it for you. But we faced a frustrating dilemma, and simply didn't know what to do about it.

Caldrea, if you haven't heard of them, makes natural cleaning products. They also own the Mrs. Meyers brand which is sold more widely in grocery stores and larger outlets. Caldrea was their specialty product that was sold through more "boutiquey" home stores like ours. We built up quite a following with it, because it's a good product. And we promoted it like crazy. Last fall we suddenly got a notice that Caldrea products were going to be sold at Target, starting the very next day. It took everyone by surprise, including – I believe – all the sales reps who sold to stores like ours. Obviously this move took months of planning and strategizing and redesigning the packaging and all that, so getting a letter like that when Target employees were already stocking their shelves was very discouraging.

And who wants to compete with Target? Of course the product costs less there. If it were only a matter of a dollar or two, that would be fine with me. But it's more than that. Caldrea lowered their prices quite a bit for Target to make it viable for them to sell; their price to us smaller accounts did not go down at all. Of course, they'll argue that it's a different "line" with a different formulation, but all I see is a simpler package in the Target version. At a price that is barely above our wholesale cost. {And I hope that by telling the truth like this, it doesn't send legions of you to Target – gulp – not the point at all, but I totally understand needing to save money, oh yes, I really do...}

So we dropped them. It was very painful, and for a long time I searched for a new line while struggling with what to tell customers who asked for it, and how to respond to those who cheerily said, "hey, you know you can get Caldrea at Target now??" Wheeee. Caldrea was one of our bread and butter lines, one of those constant sellers, that thing you get hooked on. I don't know: what would you do?

Well, that's the back story, short version.

The good news is, we finally found a replacement product that we really feel good about. It only took months of searching, but we just brought in the Thymes Mandarin Coriander line, and I have to say, I absolutely love it! Once in a while a scent really sends me, and the mandarin coriander just knocks it out of the park. It's a beautiful, all natural plant-based product with no fillers, no parabens, no bad stuff (all made in Minnesota). There's dish soap, all-purpose cleaner (for countertops, floors, etc.), hand soap and lotions, candle and room spray. First thing I did when our new order arrived was take home one of everything and use it, and I'm totally in love. It makes doing the dishes so pleasant with this wafting scent (and by the way, very effective, concentrated product); ditto for cleaning the counters. It's now my go-to hand cream (and if you've been in our shop, you know I have a lot to choose from).

We bought a bunch of little sample packs (in hand cream and dish soap) to give away to those of you who want to try it, so stop in and pick up a sample. We're totally stocked up in all the products: ready for the stampede. Heh.
See? Gorgeous packaging, too. Looks great in the kitchen, bathroom... Get the little sink set (hand wash & lotion) plus dish liquid for a fabulous housewarming gift!