Author: Teresa Johnson
No archery retailer wants a competitor to move in nearby. But what if you focused on improving your store instead of worrying about the competition, and scored a 62 percent sales increase?
When Randy Phillips, owner of Archery Headquarters, heard Bass Pro Shops was setting up shop 9 miles away from his Chandler, Arizona, store in 2003, he didn’t get stressed. Instead, he saw opportunity and turned it into profit.
Phillips realized his customers would head to Bass Pro for more than archery gear, and assumed they would be impressed by it. “I wanted to try to wow them here, before they got wowed there,” he said. For Phillips, making a good impression on customers meant looking around his store and determining what he could upgrade to impress his customers.
As part of the Archery Headquarters redesign, workers gutted the store and then removed its drop-ceilings to add light and dimension to the space.
He instantly spotted key areas to improve: “A bright store, inventory on shelves, price tags on everything. I wanted my customers to think, ‘This place is different.’”
So Phillips took to Google to find a retail-store designer, and found a local company that fit the bill. Their focus: fixtures, store design, and making the space bright and professional. The designer charged $2,000, which Phillips thought was pricey at the time, but now realizes was a great investment.
“I thought, ‘What if I don’t like it?’ But they sketched the whole thing out on a computer, and I was able to provide input,” Phillips said. Once the design was complete, the work began. They gutted Archery Headquarters, and then removed its drop-ceilings to add light and dimension to the space. Next they updated its electrical system and put up drywall. The finishing touches included shelving, displays and lighting. Fortunately for Phillips, he knew several of his customers were contractors, and happy to barter services.
To set his store apart, Archery Headquarters owner Randy Phillips made sure shelves were stocked and all items were clearly priced.
The test came after they put the finishing touches on the store to complete its redesign. “The first customer who came in the door was a woman who said, ‘Wow, this looks really nice. It’s like a regular store in here!’” Phillips said with a laugh. He notes that the store’s previous displays, shelving and aesthetics were a mix-and-match effort .
“When I think of the word ‘shop,’ I think of a place where my dad hung out with his tools and fixed things,” said Michelle Zeug, director of community and international programs for the Archery Trade Association (ATA). A big part of Zeug’s work? Spearheading the ATA’s Retail Growth Initiative, which helps archery retailers become more profitable.
“All too often, our retailers just see themselves as the local archery ‘shop,’” Zeug said. “But customers, especially new people, are more comfortable in a ‘real’ store, where they can easily find quality merchandise and the latest products – in a clean, well-lit and well-organized space.”
“To improve a store’s look and feel without spending any money, retailers should avoid using their range as a storage space,” said Michelle Zeug, director of community and international programs for the ATA.
Although the entire job, from design to construction and fixtures, cost about $18,000, Phillips said it was money well-spent. The month after Archery Headquarters reopened, Phillip saw a 62 percent sales increase. “After the remodel, we did $47,000 that month; my best month prior had been $29,000,” Phillips said. The trend continued, with the next month’s sales topping $57,000.
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s crazy! I can’t spend that kind of money!” Well, think again. “Lots of free little steps can be taken to improve a store’s look and feel,” Zeug said.
Zeug suggests these changes:
- First, set a cleaning schedule.
- Make sure shelves are organized and well-stocked.
- Move seasonal products to end-caps or other high-traffic areas.
- Do not use your range as a storage area.
“Pay attention to the comments and sales that result from these small changes, and just keep taking small steps from there,” Zeug said.
Make sure inventory is organized and well-stocked to improve your shop’s professional appearance.
As for Bass Pro Shops, they opened their doors six months after Archery Headquarters’ remodeling project, and the results were positive. Phillips saw a significant business boost the next year.
Phillips said it took just two months to recoup his investment, which has stood the test of time. Although the redesign came in 2003, this writer first visited Archery Headquarters in April this year. I was shocked to learn the “remodeling” happened almost 13 years ago, given how bright, professional and modern the store looked.
“I’m a conservative guy,” Phillips said, explaining that he didn’t want anything too modern or trendy when the store designers did their work. “It turned out current, bright, and fresh – but classic.”
“It’s all about customer confidence,” Philips said. “If you look professional, they’re already thinking there’s something different about your store. We look organized and well put together.”
That would inspire confidence in any customer.
Ready to get started? ATA’s Retail Growth Initiative has many resources available, including information on merchandising for new customers, and other tools you can use to improve your business – and your bottom line.