The Achilles Heel
We’ve always believed that the Achilles heel of specialty retailing is the lack of professional help used in showroom design, and then the important follow-up of frequently refreshing it in order to bring customers back into the store – again and again.
Here’s an interesting anecdote. Some years ago a national sales manager for a patio furniture manufacturer we know said, “When I travel with our reps, before we enter a store I’ll tell them how long it’s been since I was there; usually it’s been over a year. As an example, I’ll bet that, as we walk in, there will be a Tropitone set with blue fabric to our left, and a small vignette of plastic furniture and umbrellas to my right. Sure enough, that’s what is still there.
“Now, obviously I can’t do that with every store, but I can do it with far too many.” That message also applies to retailers in the hearth and barbecue industries.
About five years ago, Pam Danziger wrote a book entitled “Shops that Pop!” In it, she provided advice to retailers on how to merchandise their store properly. She also profiled a dozen or so retailers who are expert at merchandising, and are having no trouble attracting the clientele they want, and in the numbers they need.
Recently, Danziger came out with a second version of “Shops that Pop!” This time she profiled about 17 stores and, once again, her book is full of great ideas. We urge you to read the article Shops that Pop! and, if you find it interesting, buy the book; it’s only $28 on Amazon, and $20 for the Kindle version. Then make sure you follow the advice it provides.
First there’s 45 minutes of sipping wine and talking with friends; then 60 minutes in a seat watching a parade of 50 or so of the most innovative products at the Expo flash on 15 X 15-ft. screens. Listening to the winners as they address the crowd from the podium is interesting, and at times moving. After all, it has taken many hours, from many people, and an investment of many dollars to win that award.
There’s also a major investment of time by the Vesta judges. These are retailers, consultants and affiliate leaders who give up an entire day of the Expo. They could have declined to do so and, instead, spent the day walking the show and looking at new lines and products. They chose not to, because they believe the Vesta Awards program is important to the industry – that it stimulates innovation, which in turn propels the industry forward.
The HPBExpo attracted basically the same number of people as the prior show in New Orleans, but about 1,300 fewer than the Expo in Nashville in 2015. However, it excelled at bringing in more exhibiting companies – 411 to be precise. If you’re a retailer, that’s exactly what you want to hear. More companies mean more products, and more possibilities for your business.
Nashville in 2018 will be one of, if not THE biggest and best HPBExpos in the past decade. Start planning to attend right now.