This is Part Three to Theresa Ortega’s blog series on creating a pro shop. Read Part One here: “Create a Pro Shop in Your Rec Center” and Part Two here: “8 Tips on Initial Inventory for Your Pro Shop.”
You’ve decided to open up a prop shop in your rec center. You’ve purchased the inventory and now you need to sell it. Even if all you have is a wall and a place to put a cash box, you can begin exhibiting your merchandise for sale. Here are some tips for making your displays interesting and keeping costs down:
Think minimal to start. A metal grid is easy to mount on a wall; you can use up a lot of empty, vertical space that might otherwise go unused to display your most popular items using bulldog clips or old-fashioned clothespins, and attach your price signs with smaller clips, or you can add peg hooks to hang items.
If you have a bit of floor space, you can make two grids into a standalone display by using L-shaped bases, or purchase a Z-shape. Use bright and colorful cardstock to create signs highlighting new merchandise or special deals. Be sure to write short descriptions of features that may help sell the item.
If you have more space available, think unusual, think colorful and think outside of the campus rec environment. Items you find at thrift stores or yard sales might just be the thing you need to display items on your counter. If your facility is a more modern design, get ideas from fun retailers, like Crate and Barrel or Trader Joe’s.
I like to look for staffers who have a fun personality, an interest in the merchandise and creativity in their outlook. I think it’s hard to sell merchandise you’re not interested in unless you’re really outgoing or a great actor. If your staffers are enthusiastic about what they’re promoting, their natural energy for the products will help to sell them. Engage them in checking in the items, creating displays and learning how the products are used so they can relate the information to customers. Perhaps one of your lifeguards will turn out to be a great pro shop staffer, too.
Everyone loves a deal, so when you’re able to buy items at a deeply discounted rate, let them know it’s a special buy and pass the savings on to the customers. But, and I’ve said this before, never compete on price. You are providing unique products with your university-branded merchandise as well as the convenience of needed items related to their use of the rec center.
If you have higher-priced items you are considering, purchase one of these products, display it and take orders. This is a great way to get the most out of a single product. You can do this with a lot of products, actually; just order one to display and put out the message you are taking orders. Guarantee delivery by a certain date, collect the money up front and offer free shipping.
For your staffers, you can offer a number of incentives for multiple sales: If they sell X number of items, they get one for themselves. Run a contest among all sales staffers to promote and sell a new product in the first month and the winner gets a free lunch. Offer a $5 coffee gift card for most sales in a single day. Partner with a local entertainment venue for tickets you can use as incentives, too.
Always be on the lookout for great display ideas, cool new products and staffers who are excited to work in your pro shop.