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CITY OF LOWELL

By Cathy Butler,2014-05-20 16:46
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CITY OF LOWELL

    CITY OF LOWELL

BEST RETAIL PRACTICES PROGRAM CONSULTATION SESSION REPORT

    Business Name and Address Lowell, Business Contact Person

    Business Description Urban clothing for men

    Consultation Date 03/18/08

Summary of Topics Addressed:

    A. Exterior and Approach ? B. Design and Experience ?

    B.1 Layout and Decor

    B.2 Merchandising

    B.3 Fixturing

    B.4 Lighting

    C. Marketing ?

    C.1 Business Identity and Positioning

    C.2 Communications and Marketing Opportunities

D. Business Recommendations

BACKGROUND

    _______, an entrepreneurial young man, saw an opportunity to own a retail clothing store

    for urban youth in Lowell and jumped in with both feet. He has been experimenting to

    get to the right merchandise mix over the past 18 months and is feeling comfortable now

    with being a little broader than he originally planned with sizes, styles and items. The

    store also specializes in custom air brushing.

A. Exterior and Approach

    a) The exterior of _____ is all glass with 2 large display bays on either side of the

    door. Since you can never know what apparel will be available to be on display,

    the side painted yellow provides a brighter and better background for any color

    clothing than the side painted black does. We would recommend painting the

    other side yellow as a signature color or another bright color or even airbrushing

    the name ______. on the back walls in black over another bright color as an

    additional branding and messaging effort. For both security and to feature the

    product well, it is important to have good lighting in these bays.

    b) The sign over the store is very high but it is readable form the road and from

    across the street. Additional signage in the windows would be a good idea. The

    logo should be consistently applied. Temporary / sale signs should be placed

    further in the windows rather than up against the glass.

B. Design and Experience

B.1 Store Layout and Décor

    a) The store is clean and well organized with most of the shopping happening in the

    back half of the store. The basic tee shirt bins are kept neat by size and color and

    attract shoppers to that part of the store immediately.

     b) The shoe area is not moving product well enough to be profitable so eliminating

     that product and adding more clothing forms to show complete outfits is a good

     idea for that space. Giving customers outfit ideas has proven (and always is) a

     good way to sell multiple items.

     c) Overall the volume of inventory is adequate but we would suggest bulking up in

     popular items or sizes so that there is as much selection as possible. More

     displays in the front windows with apparel on the back walls as well as on the

     mannequins would also be a good idea. If there is a concern about theft,

     additional lighting or a security camera outside should be considered.

     d) The jeans display is on a table but we would suggest that a rounder (store fixture)

     would be a good idea for displaying other kinds of pants or shorts as it would be

     more shoppable and focus attention on the fact that you have added this kind

     of merchandise. A reference might be One Stop Store Fixtures (new and used) in

     Lawrence, MA.

B.2 Merchandising

    a) The shirts, jeans, hoodies and jackets are all unique and that keeps the store

    interesting. Going deeper in basics like jeans or other classics (solid black or grey

    hoodies maybe) so that someone can always buy SOMETHING when they come

    in to shop would be a good idea for getting dollars on every visit. The way

    ______ is buying his inventory does not allow him to go deep in branded lines,

    but perhaps adding to the basics like his tee shirts in just one or two other items

    would help for now.

    b) The merchandising of the air brush services should have its own area of samples

    in addition to the photo book with prices. Perhaps the area where shoes are

    presently could feature air brushed apparel as examples with signage about

    ordering policies.

    B.3 Fixturing

    a) The fixturing is typical with waterfalls on the walls for tops, a rack behind the

    register for caps and a display table for jeans. The slatwall allows for any

    variations that might be necessary. The cases for cds, jewelry at the register are

    also appropriate. We would suggest moving the colognes to this area as well. As

    suggested above, a rounder for additional items would vary the selling floor. Sale

    items should be separated from full price items on a separate selling fixture as

    well.

    b) Cracked glass ought to be replaced with safety glass as soon as possible at the

    cash wrap / display case.

    c) The small shelves by the front door for fliers are attractive and helps keep the

    store neat.

    d) A dressing room is needed and rather than impose on the painting or office area

    and the attendant safety and security risks of using space back there, we would

    suggest building a curtained area on the back wall, moving the cologne case up

    the front where other “specialty items” are featured and bulking up the hanging

    shirts a bit if necessary.

    B.4 Lighting

    a) The lighting is effective with spots targeted on a range of items, and enough in the

    front windows to call attention to the space. There is also enough light through

    out for a good shopping experience overall but the fluorescent strips overhead

    should be covered. We would recommend that if they have not recently had an

    energy audit that they consider doing so.

    C. Marketing

    C.1 Business Identity and Positioning

    a) _______________ is clear that it is for urban young men and I think it is well

    understood for what it is.

    b) Within the context of the retail competition in Lowell, keeping the focus narrow is

    a good strategy and being specialists, experts in contemporary street fashion is

    going to make ______ the first stop for this audience.

    C.2 Communications and Marketing Opportunities

    a) Word of mouth and supporting word of mouth is a good strategy for ______ as

     advertising would be too expensive. Sponsoring events at clubs and activities for

     young people would also keep the name front and center. Keeping an eye on

     events for young men within a 25 mile radius should be the target.

    b) Participating with other retailers, restaurants in joint ads, maps of downtown

    Lowell would be encouraged.

    c) Building a data base of customers who “opt in” for email announcements by

    signing a guest book would be a free way to reach customers when special new

    inventory arrives. We would not suggest traditional direct mail with this audience.

    d) A single page website would be inexpensive and simple to maintain posting new

    items with a digital camera encouraging customers to check back frequently.

    e) Specific marketing for the air brush artist’s work should be considered in yellow

    pages, on-line, etc and back up artists identified.

    f) Care should be taken on going too steep on discounts, too frequently and other

    price promotions should be considered.

    - Frequent buyer cards rather than just a punch per item, a target

    $ amount should be set ($250 for one level, and $500 for another level)

    with 15% off an entire purchase after hitting $250 or 20% off after

    hitting $500. Cards could be kept in the store so that no confusion

    about losing cards or items not getting credited would arise.

    - Multiple purchase events rather than $ off for multiple tee shirts, the

    price point there is fine it would be better to have $ off purchase of

    pants WITH tee shirt or $ off purchase of hoodie WITH purchase of

    pants. Being the wardrobe store would be more profitable than

    being the item store.

D. Business Recommendations

Buying trips to NYC every couple of weeks will get expensive, so we would recommend

    getting some relationships in place so that selections can be shipped on approval directly

    to the store from trusted sources and limiting trips.

Establishing and maintaining good credit with even a few accounts so that future business

    can be easier should also be a goal even if this required a pre-paid credit card as currency.

Purchasing at discounted retail and then selling at less than 50% margin is not as

    profitable as it should be and selling outlet product as first quality could be a problem if

    the product does not perform properly.

Working on a retail proforma with a business consultant and then tracking store

    performance against it would help the owner see opportunities, recognize risks and

    optimize profitability.

    Use this font and format for consistent branding - even here...

    A.a

     Adding a blade sign

     would be helpful for

     people looking down

     the street.

Yellow is more eye-catching

than black be sure lights are

on product not on glass. A.b Move temp signs IN to window not ON window.

Cover lights

    with acrylic

    panels for safety!

     Move cologne case to front and build out B3d two

    dressing

    rooms here.

    Rounder

    rack for

    pants.

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