Opening a seasonal store offers a host of issues that permanent stores don’t always face. From a short season to finding employees, seasonal stores can present real challenges to retailers. There are, however, some things you can do to better prepare. In a tourist town, knowing your customers and understanding that you may only have one shot to grab their attention can go a long way towards a successful operation.
What Will You Need
All seasonal stores are different, for the sake of simplicity we will mainly be dealing with souvenir and t-shirt shops. To open a shop, the first thing you will is space. You have probably heard the old saying, “location, location, location.” And that holds true for seasonal shops. You don’t want to be out of the way where tourists will have a difficult time finding you. Still, you need to weigh the cost of being on the main drag. Often, rent for these spaces comes at a premium. Run some numbers to see what is feasible based on your end financial goals of the season.
Think about your product line. This goes hand in hand with the space you are looking to rent. If you do not plan on having a large amount of inventory, renting a huge space—even with a great location and price—can leave customers feeling your store is empty. You don’t want to try stuffing too much inventory in a small space either, as customers could find it messy or cluttered. Find a space that suits your inventory.
Invest in the right store fixtures. Most likely this will not be a permanent space, you may move down the block next year or to the next town over. Look into fixtures and displays that are easy to set up and break down such as slatwall and grid paneling. Browse for specific souvenir displays meant to showcase various items. If one product, like t-shirts, are going to be the focus on your store, invest more heavily in the displays surrounding those products. There are many options for highlighting t-shirts. Using a combination of displays and fixtures will contribute to a more permanent feel to your store.
Lastly, don’t forget a sidewalk sign. You need to throw every available attention grabber at passing potential customers!
When Should You Open
Spending time in the town where you want to open your store is crucial. Getting to know the seasonal rhythms of the town helps you plan when it is best to open. It can also be incredibly beneficial to talk to the local Chamber of Commerce as well as your landlord. You need to know the absolute busiest times of the year and open before peak season. Keep in mind, cleaning your space, receiving and organizing your merchandise and training your staff all take time. Many first time seasonal store owners overlook these items and end up losing out on key revenue generating days because they don’t have their bases covered. Opening will take longer than you expect!
When to Close
Again, tapping local resources will be very helpful when you should close your doors for the season. It is important, though, to start discounting your merchandise towards the end of the season, especially if it will be dated next year. Plus you don’t want to have to pay for storage for items you will simply discount upon opening next year. The best thing to do is offer end of the season sales, thus clearing your inventory and saving money on storage.
Opening a seasonal store can be a rewarding venture if you plan accordingly. Do your research by talking to the right people in the town and understanding the basics!
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