Here's a letter that I just got from I was very interested in starting an African business.
I love your products. However, I recalled one of our larger malls had some wonderful African products and they did poorly. I had a few African products (masks and walking sticks) in a previous store I had not one African-American bought any of the products so I stopped stocking them. Then I discovered your place and considered opening another store with primarily African products. When I thought about the other store and my previous experience, I reconsidered. Any thoughts or suggestions?
What would you say? Here's my response.
Thanks for writing. Just like any other kind of products, there are some African products that become more popular, while others get less popular. To have more sales, you need to have what your customers are wanting now. If the masks and walking sticks are selling slowly for you, then you will want to have something else available; but this doesn't mean that your customers don't want other African products. Your customers are probably looking for something new that they haven't seen before. Some people already have (or have already seen) some of the products that are selling slow for you. If you can get their attention with something new, you can sell more of these new ideas, and get more interest for some of the traditional pieces as well. If you change with your customers; and always have something new for your customers to get from you; you will probably sell more of the masks and walking sticks too. There are African soaps, oils, clothing, and other new art that go along with the same African theme that probably draws many of your customers already. What has worked for us is to keep a steady stream of new items in front of our customers. You don't need to buy a lot of any single item, but if you try several different things; and then re-order the ones that sell fastest; you will end up with products that keep people coming back for more. I hope that you will give this another try - maybe in a different way. The African products sell well for other people; so there is no reason that they will not sell well where you are. We have a lot of customers who have grown with some of the skin care products. You keep your customers coming back to you more often; and they remember you better when they want some of the art work. We have a starter kit that gets you started with customers through the African soaps; and then builds your business with the other products. You can see how this works at the link below. Hopefully this gives you some of the information that you are needing. If there is anything else that I can be doing for you, please contact me again any time at all.