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April 16th, 2019

Giving Back

At the Link Companies, we have two charities that we support with every order, every time: Wellspring Living and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta! Take a look at this video to see more about WHY we give back:

Anju Artisans

 

In addition to our charities, The Link works with many vendors that also consider “giving back” one of their priorities. Anju Jewelry is a vendor that includes this idea in their company’s mission statement. They are a 100% sustainable jewelry brand that has been working with the same groups of local artisans in India for over 13 years! These artisans use traditional techniques to hand-make beaded and metal jewelry, and block print the fabrics used for the bags. Anju is committed to creating hope for artisans and their families through economic empowerment.

 

 

If you happened to stop by The Southern Link’s showroom during the January market, you may have spotted a sweet little puppy hanging out! If you didn’t see the dog, it’s because Tall Tails‘ team actually got the homeless pup adopted within only a few days of the show! Known for high quality dog products like blankets, toys, collars, and food dishes, Tall Tails frequently hosts dog adoption events as their way of “giving back.” Check their Facebook page or stop by during the next show to find out more about their frequent dog adoption partnerships!

 

Duke Victory

 

Duke Cannon is committed to giving back to Military Veterans. A portion of all of their proceeds directly supports Veterans causes. Ever wonder where they got the idea for their “Brick” of soap? It was actually inspired by the soap issued to G.I.’s during the Korean War, and is produced today in that same U.S. family-owned plant used as the primary supplier to the military! When it comes to providing hard-working grooming products to men, Duke Cannon does that – and more!

 

Please remember that every time you place an order with any of our vendors, The Link Companies gives a portion of the proceeds to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Wellspring Living. Every Order, Every Time!

April 9th, 2019

Utilizing Your Territory Manager

At the Link Companies, we are here to help you find the perfect products for your store! The main way we do this is by providing you a full staff of personable Reps that will bring knowledge about our lines to your orders, line by line. You do not need to sit around and make guesses as to which items will sell the best – that’s our job! So, in this blog, we will be discussing the things you can bring to the table to help us help you the best that we can.

There are six important focal areas that will guide you through using your Rep most efficiently: Order Management, Inventory Control, Merchandising, Training, Marketing, and Data. The focus right now will be on Order Management.

First, take on the tasks that only you, as a store owner, can do. Order management starts with your “open to buy.” Determine how much product you need. The easiest way to do this is to think about the linear square feet that need to be filled in your store. Break the amount of space into categories of product (i.e., “I need four feet of jewelry, six feet of wall décor”). Apply a budget, balance this against your operating capital, and stick to it! If you only have $10,000 in cash to work with in June, only have $10,000 worth of product bought and shipped in June!

Be sure to leave a discretionary fund. When you see the hot new product, you may need to usurp something else in order to bring that in. Make this plan for each month of the year and edit it at the beginning of each month based on current sales and industry trends. This is called your monthly “open to buy.”

Here is where your Rep comes in. Do not keep your Open to Buy information a secret! Share your thoughts with a trusted sales Rep. They may have ideas, based on their industry knowledge, on which categories will work best for you at the moment. They may also find products that fit best into your mix. Good Reps, like ours at The Link, are not scared to share market information with you.

Regardless of whatever POS system you may have that tracks your orders, they can all be rendered useless if you do not start with a plan. Take the following steps when working with your Open to Buy:

  • Assuming that you have a 1500 square foot store or smaller, create a page for each monthly plan (discussed earlier).
  • Create a PO# for each order.
  • Decide how each PO accomplishes the goals laid out in your monthly plan. What categories are covered? How many linear feet? Is it cost effective?
  • Track the PO information on the monthly page. Add the following columns: Received On, Dollars Received, Paid On.
  • As you place and receive orders for each month, track each of the columns.
  • When you reach your budget in the dollars or reach the limit in your categories, you are finished buying for the month and your “Open to Buy” is now depleted.

The Order Management ideas we just gave you are only a piece of what you can focus on as a store buyer or owner in order to balance your budget and your buying. Stay tuned to this blog for more ways you can utilize your rep, or just give us a call so we can drop by and help you out in person!

April 2nd, 2019

Emerging Trend Alert: CBD Oil!

CBD OilLast year, as gift lists were emerging for the Holiday season around Thanksgiving, a trend began to emerge: CBD Oil. Media outlets from Forbes to Buzzfeed began to zoom in on CBD Oil products as highly sought-after gifts. Most of these products and articles were framed with the “Wellness” or “Self-Care” trend as the overarching theme. But, the hype often leaves buyers with more questions than answers. What exactly IS CBD Oil? What kind of products can you put it in? What exactly does it do? Isn’t this illegal? And, is it the same thing as Hemp Oil? Today we hope to clear these questions up and bring awareness to this trend that’s storming into the gift world.

 

So what exactly is CBD Oil?

CBD is an abbreviation for “cannibidiol,” which is a chemical compound found naturally in the cannabis plant. It’s extracted from the leaves, flowers, and stalks of the plant. In fact, CBD is only 1 in over 100 active compounds or cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant! Cannabis is a little more complex than you may have thought, right? Unlike some common misconceptions, CBD Oil only contains teeny, tiny levels of THC, levels that are so negligible that they do NOT get a person “high” or cause people to fail drug tests.

What are the benefits of CBD?

You are probably wondering, “Well, then what exactly does CBD do? What’s all the hype about?” And the answer is rather complex. In the gift world, most products containing CBD Oil tout that it helps with insomnia, physical pain, or anxiety. It is used a lot in skin care for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. CBD Oil can be ingested topically on the skin, or ingested. It is even being studied and looked at for approval by the FDA for use as an anti-seizure medication.Cannabis plant

An article we found on Buzzfeed asks an expert to explain what exactly CBD Oil does:

“According to Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc. (which sells CBD oil products through its distribution subsidiary HempMeds), CBD interacts with the body through the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), a neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system development and the body’s response to internal and external factors. In other words, the ECS regulates the body’s homeostasis, keeping those who ingest it a bit more balanced, and those who apply it topically a bit less pained — particularly if they apply it to a painful area (a sore shoulder, that kind of thing).”

What’s it in?

Much like the revered actor Kevin Bacon, CBD Oil seems to keep popping up in EVERYTHING. Some of the products featured on the Holiday gift lists we perused were tea, honey, gummies (both the vitamin and the candy gum drop kind), almond butter, lip balm, chocolate, candy, lotions, drops and elixirs (to be added to drinks both alcoholic and virgin), and bath bombs! That’s a lot of possibilities!

How is something from the Cannabis plant legal?

This answer is a bit more complex, but mostly has to do with the passing of a Farm Bill in late 2018. According to cbdcentral.com, “The Act removes hemp – officially defined as cannabis plants containing less than .3% THC – from the Schedule 1 Controlled Substances list from a Congressional standpoint.” Essentially, the December 2018 Farm Bill that the president signed into action enables the cannabis plant to be grown, with conditions and restrictions, and used for these medicinal purposes.

Further explanation: “While hemp-derived CBD sourced from marijuana plants still remains subject to individual state laws, when sourced from hemp products, CBD can be purchased and consumed in all 50 states as long as it is grown in accordance with the Act.” So, you are NOT breaking the law if you sell and purchase these products.

What is the difference between CBD Oil and Hemp Seed Oil?

Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp Seed Oil

Last but not least, it’s wise to clear up the confusion between CBD and Hemp Oils, as there is quite a large difference between the two. Hemp Seed Oil is also referred to as “cannabis sativa seed oil,” and it is a SEED oil much in the same vein as sunflower seed oil or jojoba seed oil. The hemp seeds are cold pressed and the oil is extracted. Hemp Seed Oil is known as a Superfood, as it is high in antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but it does NOT contain CBD.

Farmhouse Fresh is currently a line carried by Link 2 Sales that sells skincare products containing Hemp Seed Oil! But, stay tuned because CBD and Hemp products are popping up in all sorts of unexpected places. As the Wellness and Self Care trends grow in the marketplace, more customers will be inquiring to see if your store sells these products.