Temptation, Temptation, temptation....Let's not be coy about the fact that Christmas is the biggest selling opportunity of the year. Our advice to our stockists at this time of year is to ensure your stick display stand is fully topped-up, because you are going to need every ounce of variety and impact you can muster to ensure Christmas shoppers think, "Aha! Surely in this lovely array of canes, I will find just what they need...."
At Classic Canes, our philosophy is that a walking stick should always enhance its owner's appearance and never detract from it. Too many people think a walking stick will make them look frumpy and dull, and an ugly one can certainly do that and worse, but, in reality, the right stick will add elegance and panache, whatever the user's personal sense of style. However, when you think about all the different kinds of people who come into your shop, you can soon see that they are not all going to want the same kind of walking stick. This is why we have found ourselves with over 500 models of sticks in stock at Classic Canes. Let's look at who buys what and why:
EVERYDAY WALKING STICKS
This is the bedrock of most retail stick displays. People buy an attractive wooden crook or derby for themselves or as a present because it is a step up from the hospital stick that has been issued to them or their friend or relative. Available in ladies' or gentlemen's sizes, they feel good to the touch, are pleasant to use and are a discreet aid to balance and mobility. A small decorative feature such as a carved spiral or an elegant collar elevate them to style accessories that can be used everyday. A good stock of these in both sizes and in a range of colours such as green, burgundy and blue as well as brown and black makes the display interesting and appealing.
We believe that Classic Canes was the first company to offer patterned walking sticks in the UK, an act of foresight in the 1990s for which we and many, many stick users have to thank my mother, Diana, who felt strongly that ladies should have their own sticks and not have to make do with men's sticks cut down in height. A patterned cane is automatically a style statement. It says "Here is my cane. I am not afraid to embrace it and don't I look rather good?!" Self-expression plays a large part in the choice of pattern so again, variety is key. The retailer who makes their patterned stick display as tempting as a sweet shop with a wide range of colours and patterns is the one who will sell the most. After all, you can't predict to what colour of outfit the customer will want to match a cane, so the more colours you have, the better the chance of a match. The main groups of patterns to consider are:
CLASSIC FLORAL PATTERNED CANESIn the tradition of William Morris and Liberty, floral prints are as British as a Victoria sandwich cake. Black floral and navy floral prints are the year-round best-sellers because they can match a lot of ensembles, but at Christmas, the display needs bright red floral prints as eye-catchers and as many brown, green and orange patterns as possible. Remember that gift-buyers often make a more flamboyant choice than someone buying for themselves.
ANIMAL AND BIRD PATTERNED CANESThe British are known for their love of animals but they are far from alone: I am always amazed at how many cat print sticks we send to our stockists in Germany for instance. There must be one there for every cat in the country by now! Cats, dogs, horses, songbirds, flamingoes, puffins, sheep, hares, hedgehogs.... the list goes on and they are very popular because they are easy presents to buy for a recipient who is known to have an affection for the bird or animal in question. Even the insect kingdom is included, with bees, ladybirds and dragonflies best-selling patterns in recent times.
This is where we find some of the most exuberant choices. Imagine your more arty and alternative customers: little floral prints would be much too safe for them, wouldn't they? Kaleidoscope prints, skull prints, tropical fruits and indeed tropical fish, snow leopard and even bats are the fashionable walking stick patterns for these customers.
ABSTRACT AND STATEMENT PATTERNED CANES
National Gallery Collection CanesThis collection features canes patterned with artwork based on some of the best-loved paintings in the National Gallery in London. This collection allows us to benefit from the genius of Van Gogh, Bosschaert, Stubbs, Monet and Nattier.
Many of our formal walking sticks and canes are rarely walked with at all, or 'worn' as we should correctly say with this type of dress cane. These are canes for sartorialists who use them as the finishing accessory for a carefully-considered outfit, and for those who like to be a bit different and even treat their cane as a conversation-starter. Again there a few sub-categories to consider when ensuring you have something for everyone:
'SILVER' TOPPED CANESReal silver tops are extremely expensive these days but fortunately chrome-plating and silver-plating can bring the look of a classic formal cane into an affordable price bracket for many. Chrome knob or crutch handles have elegance and style, perfect for Christmas events but equally for evening parties all year round, weddings and the races. Stock a range of price points and be aware that it is often surprising just how much money some customers are prepared to spend on a cane that makes them feel like a million dollars.
CHARACTER CANESThese include dog and bird handles such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels but also pheasants, hares, fish and ducks. As always, a generous display is the most likely to provoke a credit card-flourishing response. Some of our stockists tell me that their character canes are the items most-photographed by Instagrammers in their shops: why not let the customers do your marketing for you?!
CRYSTAL CANESThese very glamorous canes must be displayed with care but they are worth it because of their special sparkles which make any stick user feel uplifted and fashionable. Whether it is a few discreet glimmers on a derby handle, or an entire cane encrusted top to bottom with Swarovski Elements crystals, these are canes that say I am not afraid to look fabulous.
COUNTRY WALKING STICKS
The difference with country sticks is that many of the people who use them have no mobility limitations at all. These are sticks for the great outdoors and complete the best country outfits. Can you imagine our King at the highland games without his tweeds being accessorised by his polished shepherd's crook for example? When people say "I'm glad I don't use a stick", I feel sorry for them because they do not know the pleasure of owning a long, country stick that has become your friend over many shared miles together. Whether it is a hiking staff, a thumbstick, a shepherd's crook or even a modern trekking pole, these country walking companions are an excellent choice as a Christmas present. In fact you could buy one for each member of your family and spend the rest of December doing exactly as you pleased, all your Christmas shopping questions answered.
FOLDING WALKING STICKS
Although there are everyday, patterned, formal and orthopaedic versions of folding walking sticks, they are worth the retailer considering as a category of their own because of their convenience and appeal as a present. All Classic Canes folding canes are height-adjustable, so it is the work of a moment on Christmas morning to adjust them to fit the recipient. They are also rather easy to gift-wrap, although don't let that put you off the non-folding models: anything awkward like a bicycle, a pony or indeed a walking stick should definitely be gift-wrapped for maximum impact. They are the perfect present choice for someone who is just starting to use a walking stick, or who only needs it sometimes. They also look spectacular displayed en masse hung on an area of slatwall: mobility retailers often do this to great effect and it looks like a wonderful library of folding canes, each one just waiting to be taken down and carried off to their new homes.
A left-handed or right-handed cane offers great support and can be a wonderful gift for someone who suffers from arthritis in their hands: the gift of comfort. Shock-absorber canes for those who have wrist, elbow or shoulder problems are equally thoughtful. You don't have to have a mobility shop to stock orthopaedic canes: many garden centres, gift shops and gentlemen's outfitters find that orthopaedic canes are among their most popular models.
WALKING STICK ACCESSORIES, OR STOCKING-FILLERS FOR CANE USERS
Walking stick accessories such as replacement rubber ferrules or wrist loops must be the perfect stocking-fillers: small, easy to wrap and extremely useful. The cane lamp attachment would be a great thing to find in your stocking between the new socks and the bag of chocolate coins, whilst a White Christmas positively demands an ice-cane attachment.
For a suggested order created for your particular shop and its Christmas customers, please contact us for our recommendations. Many people dread being given 'dust catchers' as presents, so why not promote practical, useful walking sticks instead? The fact that they are beautiful and elegant too is the icing on the Christmas cake.
Managing Director, Classic Canes