Welcome to the fourth quarter – where sleep and space are always in short supply!
And while I can’t help much with the retail zombie-ness of October, November and December … perhaps a few suggestions on how to squeeze a ten pound ham into a five pound can will make up for it!
ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE! Start early with this mantra and stick with it. Work daily at unpacking and clearing away empty boxes. Not only will it make you and your staff get goods out to the floor as soon as possible and re-excite you about the product you forgot you loved in July — but getting rid of all the Styrofoam AND bubble wrap AND cardboard AND peanuts is therapeutic! It shrinks the overwhelming mountain of shipment into a much more manageable bite-size pile. Just don’t let it SIT … because it grows bigger and bigger and scarier and scarier every passing hour! And it is no fun to find candy cane candles in your stockroom on January 1st.
If you don’t HAVE to make a floor fixture adjustment for the holidays, you probably didn’t buy enough! Your store (and maybe your storage unit, garage, car and bathroom!) should be packed out and you should be using every available inch of space for display. No time for the minimalist approach if you want to make your sales goals. “Stack it high and watch it fly” is the motto of the season. Remember customers often buy in multiples for the holidays – they come in armed with lists and they need lots. You need to be ready with the goods on hand!
So how and where do you eek out more said space?
Never fear — a few simple solutions are here!
And we aren’t going all fancy! One of the most fabulous ways to add capacity to your store without breaking the bank or creating a storage problem for later on is … wait for it … the folding table. I know, you are thinking you just wasted ten minutes reading this article for me to tell you to get a folding table!! But YES — the 6 or 8 foot plastic banquet table from your local warehouse club or Walmart is your friend! Yuck you say? Exactly. But listen up. There are a bunch of different websites online that will whip you up a “custom” fitted table cover for that folding gem. It will change the whole look! You choose from a zillion colors, you tell them the size you want, send them your logo artwork (or you can always order it plain to save time and $$), it arrives in the mail (another reason to keep those shipments under control so you’ll be able to find it!) – and voila! – extra space. With flair! And the best part about a long banquet table with a long fitted tablecloth over it? The extra unseen bonus space underneath. Let me know if you can’t find anything to put there! Take another tip and always choose the “fitted” style – it slips right over your table, customers won’t trip over it, it doesn’t slide around, it’s machine washable and it wads into a ball to store it for next year!! Fitted table covers run about $75 for plain (no logo) and $150 for a custom imprint. Yikes. But I promise you will use that table cover a thousand times over – for additional clearance space, an open house event later in the year, a sidewalk sale … you name it! You will love it so much you will want a cover in every color for every season!
So with table purchased and table cover ordered zero in on any other random tables, shelving units or racks you may have taken off the floor and hidden away for the summer. You know that cubbie in the stockroom holding the microwave … you’re gonna need it! Next, rework your normal floor plan to tighten things up and fit in the temporary additions. Don’t forget to pull a table or two up close to the register and cash wrap – customers waiting in line always want something to look at and something to buy last minute!
Next decide how you can group like items and corral them together effectively on or near your main displays. Think about and look for inexpensive vessels you can use on the floor:
Clear acrylic ice tubs, small trash cans (bathroom or office size) or umbrella stands hold rolls of wrapping paper, bows, stocking stuffers and Christmas ornaments.
Shallow glass candle holders or vases (look for long, low ones) filled with colored crystals, salt or small marbles display spreaders, bottle toppers or small items.
Styrofoam blocks – approximately 6” square – are great for cocktail forks, open stock spreaders, bottle openers, pens or anything else that can be stabbed into the foam. It looks “icy” so it’s perfect for winter and holiday themes.
Another trick? Suggest the gift! Pre-box and holiday wrap several products you consider key items. No need to keep them in the stockroom. Instead stack them behind or underneath the exposed merchandise. Create a whole table of “Grab and Go!” Just add a fresh ribbon and a tag at checkout and your customer is one happy camper.
Command hooks are your friend. The side of any table or small wall can become additional display space with a simple Command hook. They are invaluable for holiday stockings, tote bags, hand towels gift bags and ornaments.
Ribbon is not just for packages anymore! Find a 1” festive pattern or color, make a great bow and attach a long strip of that ribbon to a wall or to the side of a display table. Then use it to clip hair holiday bows and accessories. It will keep them neat and orderly AND show them off! Use near a cash register or anywhere outside of the normal “Baby” area as a great impulse item.
Every store needs a Christmas Tree – but since it takes up space, make it work for you. Consider trimming it with slippers or hand towels rolled and poked in between branches, cosmetic bags, wallets, small boxed items, dog toys, mugs, baby socks – anything goes! Light it up if you can and it will be festive, fun and fabulous!
Whatever your game plan this crazy, hectic season, do make sure to set aside just a little bit of space and time away from the chaos to enjoy your friends and family! Remember you can sleep in January!