Products designed with retailers in mind
By Linda Cahan
For 25 years, Global Shop, a huge visual merchandising and store design trade show held each June in the Chicago area, has been showing retailers and retail designers what’s new in the field. It exhibits solutions not easily found online unless you know what you’re looking for. I attended the show this year with spa retailers in mind, and I found some great ideas to share.
Your first thought may be, “Why bother? They’ll just get beat up as soon as we move a hot tub.” And, you’re right — lower cost graphics could definitely scratch or tear. But check out Custom Color from Lenexa, Kansas. They do a great job with long-term floor graphics. They suggest using the BILD material for interior retail use, which is extruded as a clear and flexible PVC product allowing colors and messages to stand out. The graphic is printed on the second surface and is protected by a massive wear layer — the thickest in the industry. This ensures the printing cannot be scratched or worn off by items or people who come across the flooring.
Floor graphics can be used as location markers to show the way to the water bar, cash wrap, seasonal specials or whatever you’d like to promote. Floor graphics and colors can indicate different merchandise areas, create aisles or special sales areas. For short-term promotions, the lowest cost floor graphics make the most sense. They are usually good for 90 days, though they may last longer in your store unless you have heavy customer traffic.
If you are selling spas at full price with occasional discounts, your store needs to look interesting and attractive. Adding texture in a few focal areas can make your store more visually memorable. Texture Plus creates some of the best faux wall panels I’ve seen. Even when you touch them, they feel like real stone or wood.
Texture Plus is a family-owned company out of Lincolnton, North Carolina, with everything made in the United States. While everything I saw in their booth looked great, my favorite was the Ledgestone Select series.
Outside attention grabbers
Thanks to a global helium shortage causing large price increases in helium-filled temporary balloons, it makes sense to buy permanent balloons that can be used and reused over the years. Their average life span is about a year if they are constantly outside.
I’ve mentioned semi-permanent balloons in other columns and finally found a great supplier. Balloon Innovations is a family-owned company in Westminster, Colorado. Its balloons come in 15 colors as well as five pre-printed SALE balloons.
The colors seen best as cars are whizzing by are yellow, red, orange, pink and lime green. Dark green, blue, purple, brown, black or silver tend to recede, while the warm, bright colors pop.
Easy overhead sign installation
If you have a suspended ceiling and find yourself pulling out the ladder to hang endless signs overhead for every promotion, this is the product for you. With the Clik-Clik Magnetic System from Ceiling Outfitters you won’t have to climb a ladder ever again — unless you haven’t switched to LED lights. The Clik-Clik system allows you to stand on the floor and, with an adjustable-length pole, attach the sign from a metal surface. Your signs will hang evenly, and there’s no need to keep adjusting them thanks to their LoopLine filament. Having spent many hours in my life on ladders installing signs, this product would have been a godsend.
Mainetti, an international company specializing in in-store identity packages including hangers, boxes and bags, just introduced its fabric and nonwoven bags that are lightweight and extremely strong. Capable of hauling chemicals or lighter purchases, these are also ideal for customer reuse with other shopping, such as groceries, which gets your name out in the public eye. They are custom printed, you can put your name in the gusseted areas on the sides and attractive/fun graphics on both sides.
As you sell chemicals, it could generate goodwill if you use biodegradable bags at the checkout counter. If you want plastic bags, IEKO TKObags are commercially compostable — meaning they will biodegrade in a landfill, unlike many plastic bags.
Creative Retail Packaging makes an excellent ECO reusable tote bag that is biodegradable and designed with strength and price in mind. They also have plastic-type bags made from recycled polylactic acid derived from plant starches that are also completely biodegradable.
Moving big and heavy things
The Fourmi Precision Moving Technology booth stopped me in my tracks. A small, slim woman was moving a 12-foot gondola from side to side easily, smoothly and repeatedly. Just once would have killed me. The salesman showed me the ‘skates’ that make moving gondolas or other fixtures simple and smooth. While I don’t know if these have been used for hot tubs, I can’t see why they wouldn’t work. They would allow two people to easily slide a unit around the store. Stress tests have proven that Fourmi is virtually unbreakable due to its component properties and its structure design. The U.S. distributor is IMGR America Inc. in Houston, Texas.
I hope you find one or more of these new products helpful to your business. I’ll keep my eyes open for anything else that may add value and ease to your daily retail experience.
LINDA CAHAN is an internationally known expert in visual merchandising strategy and store design. She gives seminars, workshops, trains and consults for chain stores and independent retailers. Along with SpaRetailer, she writes for several other retail magazines, and is the author of two books and seven corporate visual standards manuals. Cahan lives in West Linn, Oregon. lindacahan.com