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Why Simple Ideas Usually Work Best and More Tips for November

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Instant Tradition

Don’t like the idea of a Christmas tree being cut down every year to support your seasonal decorations? Plant your own. Don’t have the time to wait for it to grow? Buy a 16-foot one. That was the solution of Luisa Graff, who installed such a tree shortly after moving into her store, Luisa Graff Jewelers, in Colorado Springs, CO, in 2011. The tree has since become the centerpiece of an annual tradition that includes a lighting ceremony and performances by local high school choirs.

Think Thanks

Thank-you notes are a satisfying exercise, especially in the wake of a successful holiday period. But when there are hundreds to write, they are also a bit of chore. Whitney Lang, marketing manager at Burkes Jewelers in Kilmarnock, VA, has the answer: “Write them daily through the holiday season and then put them aside to mail on Jan. 1. “That way your memory is fresh and they won’t pile up on you at the end of the month,”she says.

Surprise ’Em

To get the most out of a gift to a customer, violate their expectations, says Benn Parr, author of Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention. The reason is that our brains are tuned to pay attention to surprises. “So the next time you give a gift, do something different such as wrapping it in custom paper, or giving it when people least expect it,” he writes.

Sharpen the Young Saw

Is your 8-year-old showing signs he may want to follow in the family jewelry-making tradition? Sit him down with a bag of pennies and tell him to saw the heads out. Such a task ignited a lifelong love of jewelry-making in Britten Wolf, owner of BVW Jewelers in Reno, NV — and to this day, we suspect, he remains a neat hand when it comes to detailed sawing.

Silly socks at Wixon Jewelers

Hideous socks add fun to the schedule for the team at Wixon Jewelers during the holiday season.

Unwind a Stuck RingStart a Tradition

Wixon Jewelers in Minneapolis, MN, understands the power of tradition: Each December a wall plays host to a sea of stockings (one for each employee) that are filled throughout the month by staff. Then on Christmas Eve, the entire staff comes to work in “ridiculous” Christmas socks. “The uglier, the better,” says the store’s director of marketing, Jayme Pretzloff, adding this is a time the whole store looks forward to. “We love the holidays,” he says.

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Over the years we’ve collected a number of suggestions on how to remove a stuck ring (Windex, Purell, and Superfit Technology). Here’s a neat new one from esquire.com that involves using a string to “unwind” the ring. Watch it here: instr.us/11151. (It’s No 10).

Inbox Insider

Email marketing has been around for years, but the tricky part remains getting people to open the messages in the first place. It helps if the recipient thinks he’s receiving the email from a real person, says Gene Marks, owner of the Marks Group, a consultancy to small businesses, who recommends his clients avoid using generic addresses like [email protected] or [email protected] in the “from” line.

Eureka Zone

The holidays are no time to lose things. Or probably to read books like Professor Solomon’s How to Find Lost Objects. But you could do worse than read the 12-step plan summarized on his website, professorsolomon.com. The centerpiece is the useful notion of the “eureka zone” — the observation that ordinary lost objects “tend to travel no more than 18 inches from their original location.” The trick is to demarcate a small area, then search it exhaustively, he says.

Drip, Drip …

Need more motivation to get rid of old stock? Consultant David Geller recommends thinking of your goods the way an old-fashioned ice vendor would treat his frigid freight. At first it is worth its weight in gold, like ice at 5 a.m. After 6 months, your stock is like ice at noon, and starting to shed value. At 9 months, it’s mid-afternoon and you need to get rid of it at almost any price as no one is willing to pay much for a puddle of water.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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