The 2012 Industry Summit held in Las Vegas has now ended and one thing to take from reading all of the quotes is: Hobby shops are not getting it any easier. The biggest ongoing complaint is that online storefronts have ruined the profit margin for the brick and mortar stores. While this may be true, it’s not completely the fault of online entrepreneurs.
Times are a changin’ and it’s the responsibility of manufactures, wholesales, dealers (b&m and online) to all learn from each other and remember who drives this entire business in the first place: The customer.
This article will be focused on giving B&M hobby shops some insight into running a retail shop. I’m not trying to be condescending, but with any type of store; retail, is retail, is retail. A lot of the same principles can be used from a small mom and pop shop to a large corporate-driven store. I’ve worked in retail management for over 11 years and have worked with various styles of business. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t and maybe some of this can help.
The first chapter will give some tips on Merchandising. If you would like more, detailed information just let me know.
I wish shops ( I will use ‘shops’ to reference all card, comic, TCG, memorabila stores) would take a moment and just stand in their entrance and look at what they’ve created. Stand there and look around and see all the years of hard work. Now ask yourself, “When was the last time I’ve moved any of this around?” If it’s more than a year I think it’s time for some spring cleaning.
One of the shops I frequent in San Marcos, Tx is called “Comic Relief”. Nice husband and wife that have run this comic and card shop for many years. A place where they remember you and know what you like. A few months ago another store in their center had a broken pipe and it flooded a few of the stores including theirs. Carpet was ruined and a lot of stock they kept on the floor was gone. Blessing in disguise as it forced them to gut the contents of their store and gave them the ability to start fresh. The new layout of the store is amazing and creates a more inviting atmosphere to everyone that comes in.
So look at the layout of your store and make some changes. The best practice I’ve learned over the years comes from your numbers. Keep a record of items that sell in your store and items that do not. I know a lot of stuff is placed behind the counter- but maybe add some stuff on the counter. People like to use their senses when shopping, so give them the ability to do so. Flip some product from one side to the other, or rearrange some counter displays, any of this can help. It won’t hurt. It is important to remember that mixing stuff up keeps things fresh and your customers will discover things they may not have noticed before generated more revenue.
Merchandising is important as it creates the atmosphere your customer is in. You’re creating an environment, a shopping ‘experience’. Don’t just think of yourself as a ‘little ol’ card shop’. You are a storefront like any other retail storefront.
This is the first part of the series. Please stay tuned.