Ho Ho Holiday Returns

What to do when returns come back to your store.
The holiday season can bring a lot of joy for shoppers and a slew of sales for retailers. But in the season of giving, there are inevitable returns.

We asked retailer and trend expert Steve McKenzie of steve mckenzie’s and Joni Vanderslice, interior designer and owner of J. Banks Design, and retailer of J. Banks Retail, for their advice on how to best handle holiday returns so they don’t become holiday hassles.

Joni Vanderslice

Joni Vanderslice


Turn a Design Return Into a Retail Offering
“We are in a unique business as we have both interior design clients as well as retail clients so we have to face both angles when it comes to returns. Returns from design clients, although not encouraged, are sometimes advantageous to our retail store. We know that the item was selected by one of our designers, so generally, it’s great looking.” – Joni Vanderslice

Steve McKenzie

Steve McKenzie


Be Upfront About Your Policy
“First make sure your return policy is clear and available; we have it on our receipts. We only do in-store credit and that at least makes sure that they leave with something from the store and you are not out the cash.” – Steve McKenzie


Re-merchandise With a Story
“Returns have sometimes actually served us well by filling a spot on the retail floor that was vacant after an unexpected merchandise turn. We market these pieces as curated selections from our design team and retail shoppers love the story.” – Joni Vanderslice

Get Creative & Think Beyond Holiday
“A lot of the Christmas we buy will also cycle through as red items for Valentine’s Day or when merchandised together looks holiday, but can be merchandised with everyday following the holidays. For example, the R. Wood Studios pottery can be merchandised with all the colors and fit an everyday theme.” – Steve McKenzie

steve mckenzie's

steve mckenzie’s


Provide Flexibility to Keep Customers
“We believe accommodating returns with a service driven approach creates long-term shoppers. People are coming to us for the experience. Providing client flexibility makes them more apt to shop our store, take more things to try in their home, which ultimately leads to more sales that stick.” – Joni Vanderslice


J. Banks Retail

Make the Experience Positive
“I think a merchant’s attitude toward customer service sets the tone on how you move forward with a customer. If someone brings in a return following the holiday, this is a chance to sell them more! Usually we give the in-store credit and they end up buying something that is more expensive. Making sure to create a positive, fun experience keeps them coming back and telling their friends.” – Steve McKenzie

Upsell the Return
“Retail returns are never met with enthusiasm; however, it gives our enthusiastic sales staff the opportunity to upsell with something that would suit the client’s need better. With the new selection, there’s an opportunity to talk and connect with the person, finding out more about them, which in turn allows us to better tailor suggestions at that moment and for the future.”  – Joni Vanderslice

About Steve, steve mckenzie’s


steve mckenzie’s

Steve and Jill McKenzie opened steve mckenzie’s interiors and lifestyle store in September 2012. The brand offers a design sensibility that converges two fundamental influences—the graciousness that they have grown to appreciate while living in the South and their personal love for the mid-century modern aesthetic. The store combines products designed by Steve and Jill McKenzie with handmade pieces from Southern artisans. The cornerstone of the store’s offerings is steve mckenzie’s textile designs that are derived from the canvases of Steve’s artwork. Learn more at stevemckenzies.com.

Hear from Steve in person this January at the Home for the Holidays: Setting the Trends in Tabletop & Seasonal Décor event during Market.

About Joni Vanderslice, J. Banks Design


J. Banks Retail

ASID, president and owner of J. Banks Design, Joni Vanderslice founded her multi-discipline design firm thirty years ago. Since then, she has nurtured the Hilton Head Island-based operation into an internationally recognized force in residential and resort design. The firm’s residential, resort, and clubhouse interiors have been widely published in a multitude of shelter and trade publicationsAt her store, J. Banks Retail, Joni and her buying team bring together specialty pieces and small treasures that are not widely accessible. Learn more at jbanksdesign.com.

Don’t forget to see Joni’s design picks in her vignette at the Diamonds of Design Vignette Exhibition, in Building 1, Floor 14, Vignette Gallery, 14-D-9.

For a full list of Market events happening during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®, January 10 – 17, 2017, visit AmericasMart.com/Events.

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