It’s midsummer, your back room is overflowing with preseason orders, and you have a target date for your grand opening. Do you have a plan for setting up your shop? One approach would be the spontaneous throw-it-all-out-there-and-see-what-happens method. But this might not be the best way to go. The following information can help you set up shop for the season.

Things To Consider

There are a number of variables that make setting up different for each situation. Are you located by a mountain and therefore opening late in the season, or perhaps a city shop committed to an early start? Consider whether your store is all hardgoods or a mix of equipment and clothing. Most important of all is how much space you have, and if you are using it to its utmost potential.

Is the space in your shop ample or quite limited? Pay close attention, to this because it is the starting point in determining what works best for you. For example, if you only have a small amount of square footage, how you display your snowboard product becomes much more important. A critical factor to be evaluated, often undervalued, is the lighting in your store; with the proper use, a small area can seem much bigger. Additionally, is all available space being utilized, or are there wasted areas? Look around and seek out new ways to display merchandise. Be aware, however, that as every new nook or cranny is discovered, customer accessibility must be part of the overall formula. (For more information about visual merchandising, refer to article).

As you design your shop, get to know how your competitors are setting up. Besides being sound business sense, this practice will prevent you from being too similar to your neighbors. And there might be a great idea out there that you missed. Insure that your shop maintains an innovative and fresh appearance so your customers feel there is always something different each visit. Emmett Manning, manager of the Burton shop in Burlington, Vermont, states: “Moving merchandise around keeps things fresh and will entice your consumer to return.” Some of the best snowboard shops actually change their retail environment every few weeks.

SHOP LAYOUT

Shop layout should be your signature statement. This is a way to tell people what your shop is all about. If snowboards are the primary focus of sales, then they should be one of the first things seen upon entering. When clothing is put into the mix, additional merchandising questions come into play. For example, should softgoods be put in with the hardgoods or shown separately? As you make all these decisions, remember part of your overall presentation is the promotion of the lifestyle you are trying to sell.

Because snowboards deserve the most attention in his shop, a basic rule is: “boards should always be highly visible and accessible,” says Scott Donohue, owner of the Out of Bounds snowboard shop in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. “They must have a touch, see, and feel quality that immediately lets your customer perceive that they are holding their next snowboard.”

Boots may seem less important, however, they present a variety of display opportunities. Many shops tend to fall back on the tried and true method of putting them up on a wall. Sometimes this is the only way, especially when considering space allocation, but try jazzing it up. Change the position of the boots so they are displayed in an unusual manner, or create a unique fixture to place the boots on. If use of a wall is not mandatory, then try creating an eye-popping display to give your customers something to remember. Put them in a fishtank, hang them by chains, or maybe line them on top of a railing. Or, if your snowboard-boot inventory is stored on your retail floor, incorporate the inventory into your display. Don’t forget to showcase the boots close to a chair or bench, where they can be tried on in comfort.

Bindings are a bit more complex and require some creativity. Boards and boots are relativeleasy; you could lean them in a corner and they would probably look good. Bindings need to both visually appealing and offer performance features. Try placing them together, (perhaps mounted on an old board or a revolving pipe), in close proximity to your snowboards and break them down by manufacturer, category, and price. Since standardization has yet to hit snowboarding, make sure your staff (and therefore your clientele) knows which bindings fit each board. Another good idea is to have a couple of decks mounted with your higher-volume bindings. Have an easily accessible carpeted area, so customers can check out bindings, boots, and boards. You will be surprised how “carpet riding” can help sales.

If you sell snowboard clothing, many of the same hardgood rules also apply. Softgoods offer a chance to make an even stronger lifestyle association statement. Mannequins, appropriate fixtures, and plenty of mirrors will help to spice-up racks in order to catch a customer’s eye. Little things like a small TV placed in the mannequin’s hands or on top of an accessory table can make a big difference. Group similar styles together and make sure that it is easy to find a particular size and color. Larry Madden of the Alternative Edge in Aspen, Colorado, suggests: “Sectioning off clothing by style enables it to be better shown, and permits you to highlight certain groups, such as a growing women’s collection.” If possible, put equipment and clothing together on your sales floor. This gives your shop a more cohesive look and allows your customer to feel comfortable whether browsing or purchasing.

The most important thing to do before setting up your shop is to sit down and think it out. Evaluate what has worked best for you in the past and carry those concepts forward with improvements. Remember the flops from the past, probably quite laughable now, and make sure those hard lessons learned are avoided. You know your situation better that anyone else and stand to benefit most by carefully planning your snowboard shop setup.

Devon Alexander is a freelance writer and freestyle rider who lives in New York City.

Setting Up A Rental Program

Snowboarding has such phenomenal growth that if your shop does not have a rental program, you are doing a big disservice to two parties¿you and your customers. People entering the sport need a way to get started, and rentals provide a source of revenue and additional customers. It’s not necessary to have a large amount of equipment in the beginning; simply purchase a few solid general-use boards and a size run of boots. Rental bindings are a good place to start, but any durable and fully rotational model will also work. Since a large percentage of your renters might be beginners, having protective gear displayed either sale or rent is a good idea. Additional preparation includes an inventory and reservation system (computers help), appropriate rental paperwork, advertising, and of course, checking out the insurance situation.

As your rental business develops, you might need to make adjustments, such as developing a maintenance program and changing your hours and staffing needs. Servicing rental customers requires that your employees are just as friendly and efficient as they would be in an actual sales situation, because a rental customer will often return for some type of purchase if treated properly.

Another issue is having the space to stock rental equipment. Look around. A dead corner or loft that’s never used might come into play. Once your system is rolling along, you can promote additional growth by adding high-performance demos and a seasonal-lease program. The demos will help sell your current stock of boards, and seasonal leases provide a way to work with families.

How to Display Boards

How you display snowboards determines the feel of your shop. They should make a great initial impression on your customer, so customer will know they came to the right place.

First of all, make use of the incredible board graphics available using both the tops and bottoms. Stacking them one on top of the other so only the tops of a few are visible is definitely the wrong approach. Try lining them up along a long wall. They can be perpendicular to the wall, angled, or whatever your imagination can conjure up. It also helps if all the boards are raised off the floor by a few inches, giving a more dramatic look. This can be achieved by either stock racks and fixtures, or having a fixture made up.

Grouping snowboards in a way that helps them sell easily will also maximize sales. This can be by company, skill level, price, or by style of the board. If your shop sells Alpine or racing equipment, separating it can be very effective. To bring the great visuals provided by board graphics, place a single snowboard in various places thoughout the store¿in the middle of a clothing rack, by an entrance into another room, or on a wall above fixtures. Last, but certainly not least, if you have display windows available, putting a couple of boards in them will help draw even more people into your shop. all, make use of the incredible board graphics available using both the tops and bottoms. Stacking them one on top of the other so only the tops of a few are visible is definitely the wrong approach. Try lining them up along a long wall. They can be perpendicular to the wall, angled, or whatever your imagination can conjure up. It also helps if all the boards are raised off the floor by a few inches, giving a more dramatic look. This can be achieved by either stock racks and fixtures, or having a fixture made up.

Grouping snowboards in a way that helps them sell easily will also maximize sales. This can be by company, skill level, price, or by style of the board. If your shop sells Alpine or racing equipment, separating it can be very effective. To bring the great visuals provided by board graphics, place a single snowboard in various places thoughout the store¿in the middle of a clothing rack, by an entrance into another room, or on a wall above fixtures. Last, but certainly not least, if you have display windows available, putting a couple of boards in them will help draw even more people into your shop.