Retailer Tips June 2000

Don’t clutter your display cases.

Annually, this issue of TransWorld SKATEboarding Business has traditionally been the one in which we cover all the other stuff¿other than decks, wheels, shoes, and clothes, that is. Much like this issue, the glass-counter displays in your store often become the destination for some such skate accessories. Glass display cases are a staple in most shops, and when organized well, they can draw attention and customers to your selection of pint-sized products. Here is a look at why glass-counter displays play an important role in your store, and how you can maximize your accessory sales by maximizing their potential.

One of the biggest benefits of glass display cases in your shop is that they allow your customers to view various small skateboard accessories without the opportunity for shoplifting. Could you imagine the loss if all your bearings, stickers, branded hardware, and so on could only be displayed openly, or hidden behind the counter? For Owner Greg Bayer of Innovation Skate Shop in Arlington, Texas, glass display cases make it possible to carry a good selection of skate accessories and not lose good profits to occasional shoplifting. “If I am going to put an accessory on the floor, I must be sure that the margins are good enough to cover some theft,” says Greg. Generally speaking, when a product is stolen, you will have to sell two more of them just to break even.

Glass counters can also be utilized to create a separation between customer areas and employee areas around the store. It’s clear that customers belong in front of the display case and not in the back. Display counters can keep customers from rifling through your skateboard decks on the wall, and secure the area around your cash register. While creating a barrier, these displays still put product right where it needs to be, between the customer and the employee where it can be freely sold.

Maintaining your glass-counter displays will involve continuous removal of smudges and fingerprints. So have glass cleaner and paper towels conveniently located for easy access when the need arises. The inside of the displays will stay relatively dust free, and can be maintained with just some quarterly spring-cleaning. Be prepared to replace the top glass every few years. Wear and tear¿that thing that has your customers coming in for new shoes all the time¿will eventually take its toll on the top glass. Griptape is as murderous to glass as it is to shoes, and after a while the scratches will become too unsightly. Pablo Smith, owner of the three Soul Grind stores located in San Diego, California says, “It’s well worth the twenty dollars to just replace the glass every two years than yelling at every kid who puts his board up there.”

Organize your display cases by keeping like things together: trucks and wheels; bearings and hardware; videos and magazines; and wallets, key chains, and belts. Keep wheels from yellowing quickly by stocking them in non-lighted displays, while using lighted ones to better display things like watches, key chains, and items not adversely affected by florescent lights.

A full case is much more enticing to your customers than an empty one, so as inventory turns over, place regular orders and spread product out to fill in the gaps. At In The Works in Mankato, Minnesota, owner Rob Norland points out, “Keeping the trucks and wheels no more than two high will make it look clean and appealing without looking too cluttered.” If you order your trucks by the case, be willing to have some back stock instead of packing them in and having them falling over each time you reach in the case.

Take advantage of all the new colorful and alluring packaging associated with bearings and hardware these days by keeping the product in their display boxes inside the glass case. Skateboard companies spend mounds of money on the packaging of these accessorries to make them attractive to consumers. Let their marketing dollars work for you.

Having one glass display case devoted entirely to stickers can be profitable if you manage it right. Woody Donahue, assistant manager of the Soul Grind stores, says, “I thought stickers were a nuisance at first, but now that we treat them like we would any other product in the stores, I have found it’s really worth it in the long run. Just don’t give too many away, and stock the sure sellers like big Spitfire and Independent stickers.” Loose change seems to burn holes in skater’s pockets, and they will scour your display cases searching for stickers they can buy with their last few dollars. Help them in their quest by having stickers displayed for easy viewing, and you will see those dollars add up over the course of the year.

Glass display cases are essential to your shop’s success. The skateboard industry offers a wide variety of pint-sized products with big margins that are perfect for these types of displays. Ken Lewis, owner of Hanger 18 in San Diego, says the sales of small skate accessories are beneficial to his overall sales. “The little stuff is very important. I make sure the glass counters are full at all cost. Some of the best margins are found with these products, and they can be a great add-on sale.”

Take pride in your glass-counter display cases. Keeping them stocked with skate accessories will help you tap into those last few dollars your customers are dying to spend. Use them to protect your inventory and profits from opportunistic shoplifters. When you make the effort to make your glass-counter displays shine, you will find that overall sales in your shop will begin to shine as well.