If you aren’t watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix, you probably know someone who is — and annoying you with comments like, “Does that chair spark joy for you?” Kondo believes each item in your home should have a purpose or bring you joy, and that each item should have a place and be kept there. Her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and recent TV show sparked an uptick in thrift store donations across the United States as people purge their belongings.
When customers see disorganization and mess, it affects your professionalism and credibility. If you can’t maintain your own store, how can you be trusted to help maintain a $12,000 new spa? Clutter looks bad, feels bad — and people are even more sensitized to it today thanks to the glut of books and TV shows. (“Hoarders” is not a show you want your store to bring to mind.) I’ve been in several spa stores that had boxes piled along the walls and aisles waiting to be stocked or sold. I actually have no idea what was in them, but I did have the knowledge the store owner or manager was disorganized — and unable to figure out where to put things.
If you have a small store and tiny stockroom, clutter may seem like a necessity. There may be no other place to put stuff. I understand. I felt that way about my closet, then I got rid of things I didn’t wear. All of a sudden, there was room to move the hangers.
The truth is, decluttering actually works. I know how annoying it is to be told to throw out stuff you think you need, but your store will feel, look — and smell — amazing.
Clearing clutter means analyzing what’s in your store. What is selling? What has been sitting dead on a shelf for ages? Dead merchandise is for dump tables with a clearance sign — things you spent money on and hate to give away for less than you paid, but the fact that it’s taking up valuable floor or stockroom space is a daily reminder that it was a bad buy.
Cut your losses and slash prices on things that have been sucking the energy out of your store. Get rid of anything that hasn’t sold in a year and shows no signs of movement. You will feel more confident, and your store will feel lighter.
Clutter often takes the form of paperwork. How do you organize your papers? If they are visible to customers, consider shopping an office supply store or The Container Store for attractive low-cost boxes to sort the papers. Keep them organized by whatever method works for you and your staff. Boxes can be stacked when not in use, freeing up desk space while keeping you organized.
In an ideal world, each piece of paper would be scanned and put online in folders. But for many of us, we do better when we can hold the real document.
Packages to be sent, received and stocked can cause clutter. Where do you put your USPS and UPS boxes? At most retail stores, I usually see them around the checkout counter. Instead, designate an area not visible to customers but still accessible to you and your staff for these boxes. In the real world, that area may be behind the checkout desk or behind a spa unit that isn’t right up against a wall. That extra 16 inches between the hot tub and the wall may be all you need to squirrel away boxes that will come and go quickly. But please: Never stack them so they can be seen over the rim of the unit.
For boxes that need to be unpacked and stocked, that becomes a “first thing in the morning” job. If it’s a slow day, have your staff unpack boxes. Restocking comes first unless there’s some real emergency.
Too much signage gets in the way of messages you are trying to get across. Years ago, I worked for a large chain of electronic and appliance stores. I designed its signs for promotions as well as more permanent directional signs. I walked into one store on Long Island and saw 15 promotional hanging signs in the front decompression zone. I started to laugh. It was a crazy cacophony of signs, colors and messages — none of which were designed to be shown simultaneously.
Signs have a life span, and taking them down is as important as putting them up. If they can be reused the following year, store them in flat cardboard boxes. This way, they can be preserved for years without getting bent corners or fading. Mark the boxes so you know what’s in them. When a sign does wrinkle, crinkle or fade, toss it. No matter how much it cost, a beat-up sign will hurt your image and brand.
Fixtures and Stockroom
Other forms of clutter include underutilized or unused fixtures on the selling floor or in your stockroom. No matter how much you spent on them, if they aren’t in use and you don’t have a plan for them, sell them. Perhaps put the money in a separate account for new fixtures when you need them. Keeping them around makes your store look old, disorganized and possibly a little sad.
Don’t forget to clear the clutter out of your stockroom, especially if it’s small. If you haven’t used something in a year or two, toss or sell it. Free up space for things you do need. If you have old Christmas decorations but haven’t used them in years, sell or donate them. Invest in new décor to give your store a fresh holiday look. If you’re looking for good deals, buy decorations right after Christmas.
Pick up a notebook and pen, and walk to your front door. Scan your store and write down anything that could be considered clutter, then tackle one thing a day. After a week, your store will look and feel cleaner, lighter, more appealing and attractive.