The Cottage Shop
As seen in Waterfront Living
Amy Smith, merchandising and marketing manager of The Cottage Shop, shared her insights with Gift Shop® Plus in this Q&A.
Describe how your business started and how it has grown over the years.
The Cottage Shop is a division of Kellogg Supply Co., Inc., a building materials, hardware and home center locally owned and operated since 1946. The origins of The Cottage Shop began at the hardware/building materials Kellogg location in Duck, North Carolina in 1986 with a few housewares and home décor items. As a coastal town with many rental properties for beach vacations, the demand for coastal home décor has grown over the years and in 2001 we opened The Cottage Shop in Nags Head and expanded the footprint of The Cottage Shop at the Kellogg location in Duck.
Tell us about your community.
Located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, our community is made up of approximately 38,000 year-round residents and in the summer we have an influx of over 4 million visitors to our little strip of coast. The natural beauty of the Outer Banks is captivating and although we have a few hotels and chain stores, the OBX, maintains an untouched feeling.
What makes your store unique?
The Cottage Shop “tag” line is Home of Outer Banks Style… our stores are unique in the way we bring the feel of the Outer Banks alive through our product mix and lifestyle displays. The mission is to offer our customers the opportunity to find a little piece of that Outer Banks feeling to take home with them whether through a color pallet, fragrance or item that embodies the coast.
Tell us about your product mix.
The Cottage Shop product mix ranges from framed art to flip flops. We primarily focus on home accents but also have concentration in the following areas…ladies accessories & jewelry, children’s books, games & toys, custom Outer Banks merchandise, housewares including Fiestaware, kitchen gadgets & table linens, and candles.
How extensive are your product offerings that are tailored to lake or coastal living.
Our product mix is primarily tailored to coastal living. Coastal is by far our niche, however we do mix in a variety of non-coastal items to accent the colors of the coast but without the coastal icons.
How do you source your merchandise — do you attend shows, use online marketplaces, or other? If you attend shows, how often do you go and what are the must-attend markets?
Primarily we source product through the Atlanta Market attending three times a year-January, March & July. The ability to go three times allows us to break up the purchasing and focus on specific areas when we are there. January we focus on the upcoming summer season, March we purchase fall/holiday and July is looking toward the next year for spring/summer. We also have local vendors and on occasion use online marketplaces to find newer sources that may not show in Atlanta.
What are your best-selling categories and who are your go-to vendors?
Our best-selling categories are wall art, lamps, bedding & decorative pillows, Fiestaware, candles and dishtowels. Top vendors include Mud Pie, Second Nature by Hand, C & F Enterprises, Coastline Art, and Illume Candle but there are so many “go-to” vendors that make our product mix special, it’s tough to pick just a few.
What is the TOP seller currently in your inventory in the lake or coastal category?
Currently our top seller in the coastal category is all sizes and varieties of wall art…from traditional framed art to wood/metal coastal icon wall decor.
Where do you find inspiration for product displays, and how often do you rotate them?
The market provides lot of inspiration for display ideas and we take a lot of pictures while there to bring back to our staff. Our team is quite creative and thinks out of the box when it comes to displaying merchandise in lifestyle displays. We are constantly moving and rearranging but our displays are rotated completely about three times a year, however in between, smaller displays are moved and recreated as new merchandise arrives, based on sales or we just because it’s fun!
Tell us about your busy season and how it impacts your overall buying schedule for the year.
The summer is our busiest season but we also do significant fall and holiday business in the shoulder seasons. We are fortunate to have teams managing, merchandising and maintaining our stores which enables us to go three times a year to the Atlanta Market-January, March & July. The ability to go three times allows us to break up the purchasing and focus on specific areas when we are there.