Is Your Retail Space Worn Out?

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It was raining when I discovered the hole in my shoe. If it weren’t for the dampness, I might not have noticed it. At the office, people said, “I thought you knew, so I didn’t say anything.” The next day, the shoe-repair man asked why I hadn’t come in sooner. So, what does my footwear have to do with self-storage?

I used to try to convince storage owners to remodel their offices into retail space. Many listened and created retail areas, but they haven’t freshened up these spaces in years. Retail space can be as worn down as my shoe. The big difference is nobody is going to tell you.

A Closer Look

Look at your retail space. Does it have the same eye appeal as when new? Can your merchandising still trigger impulse sales? Chances are you’ll think it’s OK, but sometimes we grow accustomed to dings and scuffs, homemade signs, and duct tape repairs that have accumulated over the years. That’s why you’ll need another set of eyes to help decide if a remodel is in order.

Find someone who’ll give you an honest answer and won’t worry about hurt feelings (hint: older sisters are often good critics). Next, consider a friend or consultant with retail experience. A second option is to visit as many competitors as you can in one day and compare your retail spaces.

Are headers and merchandising materials clean and undamaged? Do you have homemade signs hanging all over the place? Are shelves and pegboards fully stocked with clean and unopened packages? Are the colors on your walls bright and inviting? Do you have counters positioned so staff can greet customers as they enter? If the answer to any of these questions is “not really,” then you need to remodel.

Maybe you should replace display units, wall treatments and merchandising materials. Upgrading the lighting can make a positive difference too. Complete a list of what needs to be changed and dig out those catalogs!

New and Improved

If you’re shopping for fresh displays, find units to hold all your inventory as well as new products. For a consistent look, stick to one source for all your displays and merchandise. Also ask advertisers for their suggestions on what to carry and how to display it. As retail experts, they should know what to stock and where it should go on a plan-o-gram.

Remember to allow ample aisle space; crowded ones are unappealing. Plan to use merchandising posters or other sales graphics and signage, and note that many are intended to be used with display units. Merchandising and promotional materials created by different sources usually don’t work well together. Make sure unit colors are complementary when adding wall paint, lighting design, plants or other dÇcor.

After you’ve completed your remodeling plan, contact your retail supplier once again and see what other ideas they can contribute. They might have new posters, header cards and other signage to brighten your space and improve impulse buys.

Finally, step back and gaze at your new remodeling space. My guess is you’ll be amazed by the changes. You’ll probably wonder, as I did about my shoes, “Why did I let it get so worn out in the first place?” A retail-space makeover may be just what you need to bring in new customers. 

Roy Katz is the founder of Supply Side, which distributes shipping packaging as well as moving and storage supplies. The company has developed merchandising programs for many leading companies including The UPS Stores, Kinko’s, Uncle Bob’s Self Storage and Extra Space Storage. For more information, visit www.suplyside.com

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