TDmonthly Magazine!
October 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 10


Design a Buying Space, Part III: Analysis

Think Outside the Toy Box to Generate More Sales

When analyzing your sales per square foot, you can try comparing it to equivalent stores to evaluate your success. Jonathan Brandow, principal of BizMiner, an industry reporting agency, recommends requesting 10K reports from the Securities Exchange Commission on publicly traded toy stores.

"If you're a smaller company, you'll want to look at selling-cost-basis per square foot, rather than gross sales per square foot," he advised.

His company also produces industry reports for smaller retailers, including gift shops, which might be more equivalent to your store (See BizMiner report).

What if your research reveals that your design still isn't working and you don't have the budget for a consultant?

Baylis noted that independent consultants might be willing to come in for a day, just to give advice. You can also hire consultants from fixture companies, such as his. Failing that, you might take a field trip and steal ideas from bigger, more successful retailers.

"They spend a lot of money figuring this out," said Baylis, who works almost exclusively with specialty retailers. "But you can walk around and say, 'That's a good idea!'"

Also, watch how your customers move through the store. Is there an area where they get stuck, or something they're avoiding, or a corner they never reach? Try rearranging your shelves and displays until the entire store becomes easy to navigate, with plenty of islands to slow buyers down.


If you find you don't have enough space to store the rest of your inventory, don't despair! Forty-five retailers surveyed by TDmonthly have solved the problem before you. Here are some of their solutions:

Rent Outside Storage Space

The retailers who use this strategy are able to take advantage of bulk discounts, despite a small store footprint. "The savings more than make up for the increased cost," said Mary Porter, owner of Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va.

Juggle Toys

Five retailers said they are very careful about when and how much they order, but they don't miss out on trends by being undersupplied. "If something is hot, we order all we can, but go with minimums on others," Peter Schweirs, owner of Mr. Toad's in Naples, Fla., told TDmonthly.

Get High

Baylis of Franklin Fixtures advised minimizing your backroom by placing overstock items on tops or bottoms of shelves. Some displays can also be arranged on the tops of the highest shelves to maximize product exposure.


Have your sales-per-square foot improved since you redesigned your space? If not, you need to go back and figure out why.

Your store should exist not only in the space you're renting, but in the minds and imaginations of your customers. By creating a space that excites and entertains them, they will come back for more.

Read previous articles:
How to Start a Toy Store, Part I: Locations, Teams and Business Plans
How to Start a Toy Store, Part II: Find the Right Toys
Design a Buying Space, Part I: Start Outside
Design a Buying Space, Part II: Be Buyer Friendly

Other contributors to this article may have included: Julie Adrian • Michaele Birney Arneson • Leigh Au • Christina Chan • Julia Ann Charpentier • Elizabeth Chretien • Virginia Davis • Laurel DiGangi • Zan Dubin Scott • Lisa Durante • Cicely Enright • Margaret H. Evans • Doug Fleener • Diane Franklin • Janie Franz • Dennis Foley • Dennis Furlan • Rosette Gonzalez • Elizabeth Greenspan • Mort Haaz • Sharri Hefner • Terri Hughes-Lazzell • Kyle Hall • Pennie Hoover • Sheri Jobe • Julie L. Jones • Candyce Kornblum • Christine Lebednik • Susan Ledford • Chris Lundy • Susan Maddela • Hans C. Masing • J.D. Meisner • Adeena Mignogna • Catherine Jo Morgan • Claudia Newcorn • Willow Polson • Marie Raven • Kara Revel • Andrew Robinton • Greg Rock • Brenda Ruggiero • Tamara Schuit • Brent Turner • Vanessa VanderZanden • Jodi M. Webb • Stacy Wiebe• Mark Zaslove • Alex Zelikovsky

Alison MarekWriter's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on Watch her nefarious villains in the web series Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at Phew! And then ...  Read more articles by this author


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