Unlike some retail outlets, which place their biggest sellers at the
back of the store hoping to stimulate impulse purchases en route, toy
and hobby storeowners will tell you that they fare better placing their
most popular items right up front.
"That gives us access to the customer. With the best sellers in
front, we get to talk to everybody," says Wolf Tripp, owner of Dark
Horse in Boise, Idaho. Such interaction with the customer is
crucial in his business, Tripp adds. "Game stores are totally interactive.
My customers make me aware of the viability of a game and raise my awareness,"
James Bjorum of Armchair Commanders in Corpus Christi,
Texas, agrees. "We display everything by the seat of our pants,"
he comments. "We put the hottest stuff at eye level. Then when it
gets cooler and sells out, we move them toward the back." Bjorum
says his decisions are based on how quickly the product moves off the
shelves, with displays changed two or three times a week.
In a 2002 interview with Baby Shop magazine, Peter Reynolds,
then president of the BrioCorporation
advised taking a product's packaging into account. "If package graphics
don't provide sufficient information, try to ensure that the toy features
'open box' or 'see-thru' packaging." Reynolds also advises retailers
to "think about using manufacturer-supplied shelf displays that highlight
a toy's features."
Toy stores tend to be more attuned to the holiday season, according to
Sally Frank, manager of Try & Buy Toy Stores of Pleasantville,
N.Y. "We do everything in a theme according to the time of year,"
Frank says. Seasonal presentations make up as much as 75 percent of the
displays in the store, according to Frank. Each window is designed a full
month in advance, while floor displays are done even further ahead of
However, some toy and hobby stores claim to pay little attention to the
biggest retail season of the year.
"I ignore the holidays. The store is 21 years old and I sell the
same way no matter how much effort I put it into it," says Tripp.
"It's a different culture in a game store. I don't care about having
lights in the window." Many of his customers have already studied
the Internet to see what is available before they come into the store,
so all they need to know is what shelf to find it on. As a result, Tripp
says he doesn’t need sophisticated displays. Despite this, holiday sales
at his store are 40 percent higher than any other month.
Rider's Hobby Shop in Grand Rapids, Mich., determines
many of its displays by asking the people hired to work there. "We
hire our customers. They know what is going to be best selling,"
states a store manager. His regular customers know where to look for the
games they want to buy, but when new faces come in looking for gifts,
his store’s displays help people orient themselves. "If it is a brand
new product, we give it a good space," he says.
Brio's Reynolds agrees. "Remember that the positioning of the toy
or brand line within your store emphasizes ... that the toys you select
are consistent with the customer's sense of value and quality. Make your
customers feel good about their purchases," says Reynolds, "and
the prospect of returning to your store."