Prepare Your Store To Attract Customers And Keep Them Coming Back
By Bob Phibbs
This is part two of the business makeover of Black Horse Farms that I began at the end of January; read part 1 here.
Before the business makeover, the store had energy efficient-fluorescent lighting in the ceiling, walls covered with original rough-sawn pine, dark counters and fixtures, dirty window shades and a floor that looked like cattle had come and gone.
To enhance the shopping experience for their customers, many who come up from New York City on the weekends, we had to make the store cleaner, brighter and more enjoyable.
Remember: you attract customers first by the way your store looks.
We had to lighten this store up.
I didn’t want to paint over the vintage pine walls because once we did, we’d have no options. If we didn’t like it, we would have to repaint. That would be not only costly but also time-consuming. Instead, we started with the floors.
One side of the store had been covered in a golden pine and while very dirty, was salvageable. We would just clean it.
The other side however, was concrete painted a pumpkin color and needed an update.
Each spring, they cleaned the concrete floor and repainted, but it was still a perfect place for the cattle dirt to hide.
We covered the concrete with a beige epoxy garage-floor covering that, when dry, looked like linoleum.
But before we could do that, everything had to go – including the old counter which, like many of the fixtures at Black Horse, had been salvaged from other businesses.
We had to move the counter.
One of the other physical problems with the store was the layout. Its flow was confusing and cut off customer sight lines and walking paths. It all went wrong at the counter area which had been placed too close to a wall.
We cut the counter into two separate pieces, refinished them and placed them along the main corridor in the center of the store. Now customers could easily walk all around it.
To make sure we got the location of the counters right, we set up folding tables and walked around them to check location of registers, phones and scales.
The northern corner was dark and home to most of the leafy vegetables. While Black Horse harvests the freshest produce on their 1000 acre Hudson Valley farm, their greens were left to wilt in the store.
By the front doors stood an old produce cooler that had been covered with twig screening to look like a tiki bar. Sad and neglected it was the first thing that greeted customers. It hadn’t worked for years and had been relegated to the front just because it was so big.
We had to get the cooler working and use it to save the vegetables.
We called a repairman who fixed it, and then we moved it to the north corner. We ordered a second one to give us a full 12’ of refrigerated space for the fresh produce. We moved the Dairy case to the same corner to add light and get some synergy from the cheeses.
To continue lightening up the store, we found incubator lights in the attic and placed them strategically to add interest, light and character.
We painted many of the old, dark and ugly fixtures a dark green to match existing signage. The tall spinner racks blocked our new sightlines and created neglected areas.
They were the bane of my existence as I remerchandised the store. Why? Even though spinner racks are often filled with cards, they make your store look old; they are rarely full, and they gather dust.
We toyed with taking them apart and placing each on a wall, but at the end of the day, the amount of profit we could make from keeping them was minimal.
We got rid of the spinner racks and the products they held too.
Tips For Your Own Business Makeover
People are more likely to shop in lighter spaces. Look at your walls, ceilings, floors and fixtures to see how you can maximize your lighting. Then add interest with smaller lighting fixtures.
Paint is your friend.Use it to add cohesiveness or drama.
Take everything out of your store. Don’t put it back until you’ve cleaned, refinished, and renewed.
Look at the flow of your store. Decide where you want your customers to go, then create a compelling journey for your customers to travel.
Place your counters in their best possible positions.
Make sure you’re showing all of your merchandise in their best possible light.
Lose the spinner racks.
Some merchandise had to go
We had to kill off the old before we could bring in the new. Paramount to a successful makeover is your willingness to clear out things you might love but that haven’t sold over the years.
We went through and removed one-half of their merchandise and put it on sale starting at ½ off and planned our next strategy.
That’s when we discovered the antique brass scale in the attic ......
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