Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Inside Our Minds: Buying New Products

We have written in these blogs before of the amazing experience we have owning and operating Capabilities. As a relatively new business (almost half-way through our third year of operation), my partner, Pam, and I, are still the chief cooks and bottle washers. We do have a great staff that continues to gain your respect as they work with customers to help solve problems and match solutions to needs. In addition to working with customers, too, Pam and I also do most of the behind-the-scenes jobs of running a business. To be sure there are things we love and things we don’t like so much in that long list, but one of the things that’s high on our list of favorites is buying product.

Not only is it fun to look for unique AND practical tools to respond to the many needs we hear about on a daily basis, but it’s also a process that requires plenty of balance and clarity, as you can imagine. We are approached every month by someone with a new product, whether it’s the inventor him or herself, or a company representing a product that we have not yet discovered. We also do lots of research based on the requests we get from customers, adding things all year long as these customers’ needs direct us.

Just this year alone, for example, we have nearly doubled our wound care selection based on responsiveness to customers’ requests. We also have won the confidence of several Metro Denver hospitals and burn units by listening to their experts’ recommendations for bandages and dressings that are most appropriate for those recovering from serious burn injuries. We also train our staff, generally with experts in these fields, whenever we add new product, increasing your confidence in us as a resource that is “more than a store.”

We also added more choice for gift ideas, including teas from Boulder-based, The Teaspot; chocolate from Metro Denver local, Julie Pech, The Chocolate Therapist; a new lift chair, Risedale, that features traditional design and a seat that elevates, for those who prefer not to have a reclining lift chair, or whose home is too small to accommodate those larger chairs. We also feature products in our newsletters to keep you on top of this broad selection of products we are committed to at Capabilities.

Before the rush of winter holidays and again as the days lengthen towards spring, we focus on new collections we will add to Capabilities. The twice annual focus is meant to pull our attentions towards gaps that might exist, or replacement products for a line or brand that might be discontinuing, or that has not attracted people as we thought it might. Sometimes we shop for the unique, those products that one might not associate with some of our traditional health care products. Among other things, it’s sometimes those products that give Capabilities its unique appeal to such a broad range of people. As a case in point, we launched our Capabilities private label two weeks ago with our Mobile Art collection of Crutch Covers & Grips and Canes, handpainted by local artist, Amy Vicioso, exlusively for Capabilities. We have also purchased a new line of arthritis products just release from one of our trusted vendors. We’ll feature those online when they arrive later this month.

Last Fall we launched our first New Product Showcase, an evening where we highlighted a half dozen of new products and their representatives before an audience comprised of Capabilities’ customers, some brand new and others who have shopped with us quite a bit. It was a terrific evening. Be sure to read our blog with the highlights of that event. We added some of the products to our mix as a result of the feedback given to us by customers, people in the real life world of caring for themselves or others while facing some of big challenges that come with illness, injury or the aging process.

Our first New Product Showcase was so successful we plan to do another one this spring. We have our eye on April and will release details soon. If you are an inventor or know of a product you think we should consider carrying at Capabilities, please email with your ideas. If you participated last time and want to do so again, we welcome you with open arms. Email your interest and contact information so we can keep you posted as details emerge. Please also consider a post here with your reflections on that event to inspire others who might be feeling a bit too shy just yet to commit. If you would like to see what’s it like viewing a product presentation and getting in on the inside track of helping us make a decision about buying it, please contact us. We are delighted to share details of the first event and refer you to others who were our “judges.”

We’ll keep you posted on our “shopping” results. Please also feel free to send your ideas for products and other services. As you know, we are here for you!

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