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The swim spa at Oregon Hot Tub in Happy Valley, Oregon, is in the far-left corner of the store. It’s a short walk to the restroom for people trying out the unit. The area is carpeted to keep people from slipping on vinyl or tile. In this photo, there are several elements blocking the view of the swim spa. The staff was involved in a floor move and proceeded to remove the balloons near the swim spa, giving it more visibility from the front of the store.

The Elephant in the Room

Tips for displaying swim spas

The swim spa at Oregon Hot Tub in Happy Valley, Oregon, is in the far-left corner of the store. It’s a short walk to the restroom for people trying out the unit. The area is carpeted to keep people from slipping on vinyl or tile. In this photo, there are several elements blocking the view of the swim spa. The staff was involved in a floor move and proceeded to remove the balloons near the swim spa, giving it more visibility from the front of the store.

The largest and potentially most lucrative category taking up precious space in your stores is swim spas. They are crazy huge! It’s as if you’re adding a water-filled room inside your store.

The main question is, “How do I show one of these without losing all my space?” The answer: “Buck up, it’s not all your space.” You’ll lose anywhere from 84 square feet and up (approximately the size of two hot tubs), depending on the size of the unit you show in the store. But, the potential to upsell to a swim spa is high and with that may come more profitable add-ons.

At least one of the swim spa units displayed must be filled so people feel compelled to try and buy. Let customers know to bring a swimsuit and flip flops, and that you have fresh towels and a robe to use if they call your store and/or go online to research your inventory. Revisit a terrific article, “Demos That Dazzle,” from the SpaRetailer 2019 June/July issue. It goes deeply into best selling-practices for a swim spa.

Ryan Landwehr, business manager of aquatic fitness at Watkins Wellness, strongly suggests that whatever manufacturer’s swim spa you choose to display, be sure it’s a current model and all the information about it is up to date. The point-of-purchase materials must match the unit perfectly.

Watkins Wellness has an Endless Pools digital kiosk that belongs near the fitness pool. It’s an interactive shopping experience where customers can see all the features and benefits of each swim spa, and do their own visual compare/contrast. Landwehr was inspired by ESPN play-by-play interactive sports presentations and wanted to translate that into an in-store experience. Using technology tells your customers you understand the way they desire to shop.

People want to make decisions based on what they hear and see. When they come into your store, the customer/salesperson interaction combined with the look and ambience of the store adds the sense of feel to the potential transaction. According to Landwehr, many people have already done up to eight hours of research online. When they come into your store, the in-house touch-and-feel experience plus excellent service will turn them from lookers to buyers.

Make it look great

The temptation is to place this behemoth in a far corner so it doesn’t block the view of the rest of the store. Give in to that temptation! If you do, it can develop into an attractive focal area.

Consider a mural on the wall behind the spa. It needs to be printed with waterproof ink on heavy vinyl as it will be subject to moisture. There is no need to start the mural at floor level. It can be mounted a few inches below the rim of the swim spa unit. But the higher up it goes, the more atmospheric the focal area will look and feel. Add a potted plant or tree that works with the mural to make it more dimensional. Check out AutoFol.com for an excellent selection of high-quality faux trees, bushes and plants.

Oregon Hot Tub in Clackamas, Oregon, added a small deck area and romanced it with a 30-inch diameter table, two chairs, plants and swim accessories.

 You may only have room to fill one enormous unit in your store — make sure that model has as many bells and features as possible so your customers can try out everything. A 17-foot Endless Pool is filled and displayed at Oregon Hot Tub’s Clackamas location, along with the swim treadmill, says the store’s sales manager, Shawna Mesher. The store in Beaverton, Oregon, displays a 12-foot model, since the footprint of that store is much smaller. The 20-foot EP unit fits comfortably at the company’s large warehouse store. Each of Oregon Hot Tub’s five Portland-area stores carries a different model of swim spa so customers can try different sizes if they are open to driving.

Getting some light on this unit will draw attention to it from the front of the store. Light the mural and throw a little light on the water. The lights from the spa should do the rest. When the stairs are lit with a small flood or wider spotlight, it makes them safer and more inviting. Shorter steps on the long side will allow people to look into the swim spa without having to climb the higher steps. Both set of steps should have handrails for customers with balance issues. A strong display as well as a clean and clutter-free store can help sell a swim spa. “Customer experience is the most important aspect [of swim spa sales],” Landwehr says. “The store must be inviting, stress free — and the graphics need to answer questions.”


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

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