From Shirts to Signs: Creating a Brand Success at Your Store
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July 2003 | Vol. II - No. 7

July 2003 | Vol. II - No. 7 TDmonthly SEARCH

Retailing Tips

Do Store Displays Really Work?

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," Tripp says.

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 Brio Corporation (ToyDirectory), 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 time.

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."



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