Six nonfads hot tub retailers can implement
By Linda Cahan
Trendy is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a spa store. “Nice,” “attractive” and “clean” all come to mind (hopefully) but trendy, not so much.
Trends in retail tend to move very slowly, which is helpful when you’re designing or renovating your store. You don’t have to worry about picking a color and finding out it’s “out” — unless you pick mauve, which is a poor choice for any era.
Pop-up shops are gaining in popularity around the world. A pop-up shop is a small, very temporary boutique that usually carries one carefully edited selection of merchandise. Exhibiting at a local home show can be considered a pop-up event, but having a pop-up shop in your store will bring in traffic. If you have a vendor interested in creating a pop-up in your store, you’ll need to clear some space for the short-term shop. Usually, pop-ups are freestanding shops with self-supporting walls and floor fixtures. Some ideas for a pop-up are: spa fragrances where a customer can customize a fragrance on site or buy the existing fragrances; spa robes and cover-ups, which will need a full-length mirror; a new and effective cleaning system with ongoing demonstrations; or a local builder showing a new gazebo/spa concept. The whole point is to get more traffic in your store by offering a shopping adventure. A pop-up will create excitement, interest and a feeling of being part of something new. It also allows you to send numerous emails to your customers to remind them about the pop-up, and post it on every social media platform you work with. Combine that with on-site outdoor signage and perhaps an on-site radio show tie-in, and you may experience a surge of new business.
Eclectic design means not being as “matchy” as we’ve seen in the past. While you definitely don’t want a mish-mash of unrelated fixtures, colors and textures, you can disrupt the visual experience by adding unexpected elements to the shopping experience. For example, consider a winding pathway through the store, which can be done with carpet or carpet tiles. I understand the issues with carpet in a spa store — but also know that when you jack up a spa to move it, you’re being careful of your floor no matter what. Imagine you have laid out your spas in a way that people have to meander through your store rather than going in a straight line. If your winding aisle is carpeted, or a different tile, vinyl, cement or wood, it will feel more like an adventure and less like a trip to a big-box store. Behind a few wall fixtures, consider painting a bright color to make the area pop. Add a photomural behind a wall fixture to make that area look intriguing when the fixture is full and attractive when stock is low.
Green retail is here to stay. This can mean different things to your customers, but incorporating the basics into your store will save you money over time. LED lights are No. 1 on the green hit parade. Between the rebate most states offer to switch, not having to change bulbs for at least five years and much lower electric bills, you can’t afford not to switch as soon as possible. Once you do, it’s worthy of an email blast and notice on your website and social media sites. Offer more natural soaps and cleaners in your rest rooms. Customers notice these things and many appreciate them.
We’ve seen major visual seasonal changes in upscale department stores for a long time, but not in smaller, specialty retail. Most specialty retailers may add a few fall leaves or a pumpkin to call out fall, or one decorated tree for Christmas. Then, come January, no décor in sight. When you create a different atmosphere in your store, customers notice the time, energy, creativity and expense put into it. When you have seasonal décor, customers receive a more memorable experience. Offer free lemonade in the summer, apple cider for the fall, hot cocoa all winter and ice tea for spring.
Think about using mood lighting in parts of your store to create a softer, more relaxing atmosphere — especially in areas where people are trying before buying. Sitting in a spa, wearing a bathing suit in bright lights is not the ideal shopping experience. Softer lighting feels more comfortable and welcoming. If you are using all fluorescent lighting, remove the bulbs over your demo units and add soft outdoor hanging globe lights.
Bullfrog Spas in Gladstone, Oregon, used gobo lighting in its old showroom to create a leaf pattern onto the floor and walls. Gobo lights are high-intensity spotlights that have a built-in holder for premade or custom decorative metal stencils called gobos. There are many companies that make these, and the prices range from the mid $100s and up. But, depending on the size of the area you want to light, you can go smaller and get some great effects.
Local is another trend that shows no signs of slowing down. With so many big-box stores delivering a cookie-cutter look, an independent retailer has the opportunity to honor its unique community and sales area with murals, photos and brag boards. An oversize wall mural of a familiar or famous local view behind a spa can be an excellent conversation starter.
A brag board is a large, framed board that encourages people to tack up photos of themselves, their pets and family in their new spa. You’ll need to plant a few photos first to encourage people to do the same. If you don’t love cork, Homasote board, either painted or with fabric stretched over it, will work equally well.
These are just a few of the trends impacting retailers today. If you have the time, money and inclination, do one of each for your spa store. Pop-up shops, eclectic design, seasonal décor, mood lighting, going green and going local can all work together to make this your best year yet.