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Holiday season fetches big sales for Crazy Dog

Rochester Business Journal
November 30, 2012

Eager holiday shoppers spent 30 percent more on Cyber Monday this year than they did in 2011, a report from IBM Corp. states. Perhaps no local online retailer felt that impact more than Crazy Dog T-Shirts Inc.
 
Crazy Dog, which sells novelty, custom and licensed T-shirts and Halloween costumes, set a single-day sales record for orders on Cyber Monday this week. Overall, from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, the company packaged nearly 7,000 orders, up from 1,200 a year ago.
 
The growth this holiday shopping season falls in line with what Crazy Dog has been doing all year. In 2010, the company logged gross revenues of $2 million. Though company officials would not disclose sales figures for 2011 or 2012, they said 2011 represented a record year in sales and 2012 sales are on pace to be 500 percent to 600 percent higher.
 
"I feel like out of any year we've been in operation, this has been the breakout year," said William Kingston, CEO of Crazy Dog. "We've diversified the business so much that even if one area of our company is struggling, the other areas would be able to carry things."
 
Kingston, 29, founded Crazy Dog in 2004 while attending Ithaca College. Gross revenue has at least doubled every year since 2006, he said.
 
The Rochester company traditionally has seen a significant dip in sales between Halloween and the Christmas shopping season. However, this year has been different.
 
To keep up with increasing orders, Crazy Dog has added five full-time and two part-time employees in the last six months. The company now employs 15 people, nearly twice as many as two years ago.
 
It recently rebranded itself with a new logo to accompany its new website design, which Kingston said is sleeker and more user-friendly. The company also has started using Magento Inc.'s advanced e-commerce application for more efficient order processing, joining major retailers such as Nike Inc., Zumiez Inc. and OfficeMax Inc.
 
Peter Borrelli, who handles marketing and communications for Crazy Dog, said the Web rebranding is part of the company's efforts to boost its Web presence. During the past year, Crazy Dog has made more of its products available on websites such as Amazon.com, Etsy.com, Buy.com and eBay.com, driving up sales and brand awareness.
 
"In addition to the organic growth of the website, our efforts to expand our presence all over the Web have served us very well," Borelli said. "We've tried to get on any online marketplace we think is worth our time. Now it's gotten to the point where we literally can't print the orders fast enough."
 
Crazy Dog also has maintained its focus on social media, he said. The company has more than 25,000 likes on its Facebook page and more than 5,500 followers on Twitter.
 
Bill Tancer, head of global research at Experian Marketing Services, part of Experian Information Solutions Inc., said the use of social media by both in-person and online retailers, such as Crazy Dog, has been an important factor in the record holiday shopping season this year.
 
"Marketers have looked to maximize their interaction with holiday shoppers by focusing on providing a personalized and dynamic customer experience in order to remain relevant," he said. "Whether it's a small business or major retailer, implementing a loyalty program or a promotion that can be easily accessed on a mobile device or laptop has given stores additional possibilities to engage consumers this season."
 
Crazy Dog also has used social media to promote the fastest-growing segment of its company, custom printing. Kingston said Crazy Dog's custom printing business was almost nonexistent three years ago. However, during the past year, the company has seen an increase in large orders from local companies such as the Rochester Amerks, Genesee Brewing Co. and the Hochstein School of Music and Dance.
 
Borrelli said the increase in custom printing and T-shirt sales may be a sign that economic recovery is gaining steam.
 
"I have a lot of relationships with other T-shirt companies that are at a similar level," he said. "In talking with them, I feel like shoppers are coming out of the recession. Overall, there's a general comfort with shoppers who seem less and less apprehensive about spending the extra buck."
 
Borrelli's observations were supported by the data from this year's biggest holiday shopping weekend. The National Retail Federation reported that a record 247 million shoppers spent $59 billion at stores and online retailers over the Thanksgiving weekend, up 13 percent from 2011.
 
While that weekend is the biggest time of year for Crazy Dog, Kingston said the business has gotten to a point where it is flourishing year-round.
 
"We're not seeing those peaks and valleys throughout the year anymore," he said. "The business keeps on rolling. I don't see a limit to where we can go. Who knows? Maybe we'll become the Google of T-shirts."

11/30/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.
 


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