How was your summer? What did you do?
Those are the questions you get asked every fall semester, and so do we! So here is our answer!
Our list of things to do this summer was long, and somehow, three months was pretty short! I think this is because, at Unique Impressions, summer means regrouping, reassessing, and reorganizing. It means a welcomed, slightly slower change of pace in our retail store which is infused with a drive to accomplish more than is humanly possible. Summertime gives us a chance to look back on the school year, and make changes that take us into the next school year stronger and more enthusiastically than ever. This summer we revamped our Greek catalog, added tons of great apparel and gift products to our newly launched (Nov. 2011) web site, refreshed the look of the retail store, and attended Greek and apparel trade shows to find the latest and greatest in products and designs for our customers. We worked our marketing calendar, brain-stormed, and designed our store windows for the year. We brought in new “letter shirt” fabrics, as well as trendy shirt styles and product lines, including Lilly Pullitzer. We even changed our merchandise tags.
But one of the things we’ve come to love most about summer doesn’t really have anything to do with those things on our “to do” list. It’s that we get to take the show on the road! We travel to sorority conventions…..to places like Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Virginia. We intentionally limit the number of Greek events we go to, in part, so we can provide a more comprehensive and personalized shopping experience for our convention customers. We ship in (and sometimes haul in) Greek gifts, jewelry and lavalieres, lettered shirts, as well as blank shirts, lettering and a heat press. We readily admit, it’s not that we love packing and unpacking a “mini store” as much as we truly love interacting with sorority women from across the country.
These women come together because they are committed to their organizations. They’ve invested themselves in the well-being and development of their sisterhood because they have seen first-hand how positive the sorority experience can be. In going to a National Convention, these women gain a greater understanding of what sisterhood means–and that it is for life. They have a broader base of knowledge to draw from and they see sisterhood lived out in women who are their contemporaries, as well as those who are twice or three times their age. They learn more about leadership, and take away memories they will never forget.
And us? We soak it all in. We see the enthusiasm. We see the diversity of the chapters and their members. We see the styles they’re wearing on campus, and we see trends emerge before our eyes as we help these women place custom orders for things such as neon tanks with the brightest, “blingiest” letters we can provide. Or Lilly Pullitzer sewn letter shirts in tropical hues. Or neon trucker hats. Or acrylic tumblers with letters. We get to see the excitement in their eyes when they realize they’re the only ones on their campus who will be wearing such unique items this fall. And we develop relationships with many of these women that last beyond their undergraduate experience.
We bring home from this experience is a sharper eye for trends, a better feel for what Greek members want from their suppliers, and we gain the reassurance that what we do matters in the life of sorority women. We help them advertise the organization they love in a way that allows them to showcase their own personal style. They have such a strong affinity for their sorority… and we have an equally strong affinity for the members who wear their letters proudly. We’re honored to be a part, and to encourage each of you to go to regional and national events whenever possible. We guarantee, you’ll get more out of it than you put in! Go Greek!
A Web Site is born! We’re proud parents, she’s beautiful! And she’s even sleeping through the night! Although our web guy, sadly, is not. Yet. He and his team are still working around the clock, putting the final touches on this new beauty. So bear with us while we iron out a few glitches, add some more functionality, and continually add products and services to the basic offerings that are currently available.
As you work through order placement, feel free to offer suggestions for improvement, or ask any questions you may have. If there’s a product you’d like to order online but it’s not yet offered on the new site, by all means let us know. (and call us to order in the meantime…don’t do without, that would be silly) We love our customers, so we want this to be as easy and fun to use as possible! And by all means, share the good news that a star (um, web site) is born!
I have friends that just LIVE to shop Black Friday. It’s their favorite day of the whole year, surpassing Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even their own Birthday. Something about the hype, the novelty of standing out in the cold with other like-minded people while the rest of the world sleeps…. and ultimately, seeing how many bargains can be scored before the specials are snapped up, someone catches an elbow in the eye, or the coffee wears off…whichever comes first. I understand the people watching is out of this world. And I believe it. But I’ll just have to live vicariously through these brave souls because I always miss the hoopla in favor of surfing the bargains–from the comfort of my couch.
Which is where Unique Impressions comes into this story. We have traditionally remained closed on Black Friday so the malls can have their day. And that was true this year as well, however with one fantastic twist: we launched a gorgeous new web site so that bargains can be had at your favorite small store as well!
So now that you’ve dabbled in the big box shopping shenanigans, shopped Small Business Saturday, and rested up on Sunday, curl up with your new favorite web site, and check out our Cyber Monday deal! Be sure to order all the students on your list a gift that signifies the pride they have in the Greek organization they’ve joined for life. At a discount, and with free shipping no less! Happy shopping and happy holidays!
Today’s discount code is: CYBER10FREESHIP
It’s amazing what advertising will do. Think about it: plenty of football fans (and non-fans, actually) are as excited about Super Bowl commercials as they are about the big game. Companies like McDonald’s and Pepsi are recognized the world over just by a glimpse of their logo. The big guys know a little something about getting the word out. But it doesn’t need to be complicated, and it’s not just for business. It works for organizations too.
So how do you get the word out about your organization?
- Be sure to post and tweet your events on social media….not just on your official page, but members should be getting in on the act as well on their personal pages
- Encourage members to volunteer in the community and wear letters while out there doing good
- Join in a cause you believe in, and bring along your brothers or sisters
- Donate! Give of your time, your resources, your canned goods, your used clothing, whatever you can in order to help those less fortunate.
- Share the good news. Post the positive happenings of your members or organization anywhere you can, be it scholastic, athletic or philanthropic
- Hang banners, post flyers and shout from the rooftops when your organization has a philanthropy event
- And by all means, WEAR YOUR LETTERS!
One real life example? When Unique Impressions opened its doors in 1988, more than a decade before web sites were born, the ONLY place to get Greek merchandise was the local or regional Greek store, followed by phone/catalog orders to those stores. It’s still the best place of course But since UD had no store, not nearly as many letter shirts were walking around campus. Once we opened our doors, and UD students had ready access to purchasing letters, the Greek population increased by 50% within 5 years. Of course, we’d love to say it was OUR letter shirts that made the difference, but the truth is, ANY letters worn on campus increases awareness about Fraternity and Sorority life. Show the administration, the community and campus what Greek life is really all about…..leadership, philanthropy, and community. Wear your letters proudly…in other words, advertise… and those around you will notice!
In this day and age, where the internet has a magical way of drawing people in and making it seem like anything we want is at our fingertips, why DO we take the show on the road? Why do we travel to college campuses in our region, bringing Greek letter shirts, Fraternity hats and Sorority gift items with us, displaying them in the Student Center and chatting it up with our customers? Why do we attend Sorority Conventions, Leadership Development Institutes and Founders’ Day events, even on our days off? Because no matter how convenient the internet is, it’s still about the relationship.
On the other end of that web site is still a company with staff members, values and a desire to please. Because every order that leaves our place of business defines our reputation. We genuinely believe that. So we take the show on the road to keep it real. To give you a face to Unique Impressions. To let you know we care enough to show up, to talk with you and to personally help you with your orders.
The Greek system is special, and the orders we take are specialized. Sure, technology can accommodate much of that customization, and our web site is there for our customers 24/7. We love that convenience just as much as you do. But we also know that there are times you need more. Whether it’s because you want just a little extra personalization, or have a question, or there’s a tight deadline. Because event tees and cup orders require feedback from a professional and some great art to boot. And because you too value the relationship. It comes down to trust. Who do you trust to do your orders, to get them there on time, to follow up if you need extra attention?
So this is why we take the show on the road. We hope to see you at a Sorority event, or better yet, in our retail store where the magic really happens. Catch us on the phone, or via email, or through our web site. Yep we’re there too. We’re not just another pretty web site….(though we really kind of like it!) We’re making cyberspace smaller and smaller because we’re right there on the other end of the line. And THAT’s the part of the job we love the most.
Decades ago, when a trend came around, it STAYED around. Good or bad, ugly or adorable, it was with us for a looooong time. Girls had big hair, often up in a scrunchie, and at Unique Impressions, we stocked oversized Champion sweatshirts up to the rafters because they were hard to come by, and when the shipment came, it literally took over what was then a pretty small store. Every sorority girl had a closet full of thick lettered sweatshirts (crew necks mind you) in colors like Tea Rose, Jade and Butter. All we could do was await the next shipment, hope the new colors would be in those giant boxes, and focus on finding great fabrics to match up with these Champion hues. We didn’t know any different, but after a decade of making scrunchies to match lettered Champion sweatshirts, we in the biz were ready for a change.
And oh yes, the times, they have surely changed. Thanks to the internet, reality TV, and a global economy, trends come and go in the blink of an eye. As soon as we see one roll in, here comes another, as polar opposite as it can be. And because there’s so much overlap in trends, styles evolve rapidly, and just about everything is acceptable. How cool is that? If you’re preppy, fantastic. Lilly, Vera, popped collars, flats and flower prints are all the rage. Classic? Coach, riding boots, houndstooth, and argyle are probably for you. Are you a wild child (animal prints and heels) or a flower child (tie dye and peace signs)? Sparkly, goth, sporty or neon? Yep, that’s fun too. Heck, you can dress based on your personality, or just your mood. That same American Apparel v-neck tee with a little vinyl lettering design can go from class to gym. Wash it (please), throw on a scarf and blazer, and out for the night you go. It’s hard to go wrong….and we love it. Way to be Unique …..Happy shopping!
We were in on the world wide web at its infancy. It’s true. While our parents were still apprehensive about plugging credit card info into an anonymous black hole in cyberspace, Unique Impressions built a complicated web site featuring thousands of Greek gifts for sale that could be ordered at 2 am, and delivered right to your door. UPS was happy, customers were happy, we were happy. And then the world wide web rocketed to fame, and we were left in the cyberdust. Kind of. Turns out, as we enjoyed our complicated, old school web site, which worked reasonably well for us, the internet as we knew it morphed from caterpillar to butterfly. Newer sites moved faster, had intricate visual appeal, and did things our “tried and true” site could never do, like take custom shirt orders and entertain at the same time. Thank you, YouTube.
So what’s a really cool, cutting edge Greek store to do when the cyberworld leaps ahead of its early pioneering efforts? Hire one of the best web companies around to save our site and **whoosh** catapult us to the new century. STAY TUNED!!!