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Benefit Auction Strategy From the Unlikely Source of Henri Bendel

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The September/October 2009 issue of Arrive magazine from Amtrak has an article called Fashion’s Makeover (page 34) by Michele Meyer. The article is about how the fashion industry has changed in light of the economic slump. Meyer proposes that to survive in this new climate, apparel designers and merchants must rely on instinct, innovation, exclusivity, and the Internet.Sounds like there’s some advice in here that benefit auction committees would also be smart to follow. Let’s dig deeper.In the “instinct’ category, Meyer writes the following:”Paring back not only helps stores but also helps shoppers. Scaled-down inventory offers a sharpened point of view and a sense of urgency: If there’s just one fabulous blouse in your size, it may be gone if you wait for a sale.”Then, a bit later…”Rather than risk closure, Manhattan’s Henri Bendel dropped clothing and hones to accessories, cosmetics, and gifts, its most lucrative items. “It was a smart move,” says John Mincarelli, fashion merchandising professor at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. “The American mentality of ‘grow, grow, grow’ failed.”At the time this article was published (Fall 2009), you’ll see the Henri Bendel site is ALL about accessories. Bye bye clothes.OK — so how does this relate to you running a fundraising auction? There are two points.1. “Paring back” refers to scarcity, and charity auctions should be based on scarcity.If you have too many items at your auction fundraiser, your prices will fall and certainly your ROI (return on investment) will shrink. But if you have a lot of competition for a few choice auction items, it will drive prices higher. You’ll earn more money for less work… and doesn’t that sound like a good idea?2. Hone in on items that make you the most money.What do your guests like when it comes to auction items? If your research shows that spa packages are always the top sellers, target spa packages. And not all the *same* spa packages, mind you. Include a massage here, and a mani/pedi there. Maybe on that table, include a day-long, “I’ve died and gone to heaven” spa package. Or if your bidders consistently snap up restaurant packages, send your auction procurement committee to restaurant after restaurant to develop great dining excursions. And if no one ever buys the coffee basket, don’t go seeking a donation like that.Remember: Fewer choice items that the guests crave will be less work for your auction committee, but greater yields when the cash is counted.


Written by davisjeffery24

July 26, 2013 at 10:16 pm

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