Hey, you: Ever hear of merchandising?

Publish Date: 
Oct 1, 2009
By Rick Fairless

I HAVE VISITED MANY motorcycle shops around the country and often I have the same reaction: Who is running this place? Why would they have dusty, dirty bikes on the floor with oil spots under them? The parts departments look like they were last updated when Nixon ran the country, and the apparel departments look like they were merchandised in the dark. These places have no atmosphere, no soul, and offer no reason to hang around and spend money and absolutely no reason to come back.

These places always make me wonder: Hey dumb ass, you ever heard of merchandising?

Merchandising is one of the most important things we all do, or should do. At Strokers Dallas I take merchandising beyond product displays and work to make all aspects of the shop work together. From the exterior graffiti paint to the way we display our T-shirts, we have tried hard to create an atmosphere that draws people in and makes them feel comfortable enough to hang out.

Beyond the cosmetics of the place (pictures of John Lennon and Alfred E. Newman, statues of the Elephant Man and a headless clown) we work hard on our product merchandising. I may be a simple-minded Texas Redneck, but I know the value of merchandising. We carry lots of things that bikers use but can't usually find in a single shop. For instance, we sell the Chuck Taylor line of Converse shoes. In order to make them feel like they belong in a motorcycle shop, we built a very cool display to show them off and tie them into the rest of our crazy décor. It's not something you would find in a typical bike shop, but that's what makes it cool. The shoes bring in new customers and give my current customers something else to look at and buy.

It is important to display in unique ways the basic accessories that everyone is looking for. Even though Texas is not a helmet state, we sell tons of helmets. We have more than 500 helmets in stock. We separate them by style and have them in different sections of the apparel department to encourage walk-through traffic.

We also sell thousands and thousands of sunglasses every year. Cheap ones, expensive ones and everything in between. We place all of our glasses on circular racks right by the front counter to encourage impulse buying and give people standing in line something to look at.

Often if you order enough products, manufacturers will include a free display. Last month we ordered a new selection of patches and decals and got a fancy display for them. Now they are flying off the shelf. Instead of storing them in a binder on the counter, they are highly visible and eye-catching. We do the same thing with do-rags and winter headgear. They are displayed where people can pick them up, look at them, and try them on.

Our women's section features clothing and accessories aimed just toward Mama. There are lots of things she can try on, including belts, purses, jewelry, blinged-out gloves, shirts and bandanas. We carry lines of apparel you may not find in a motorcycle shop, that my customers (and especially the women) love. We order in small quantities so that we can have quick turnover and create a sense of immediacy for our customers. They know that if they don't buy it right then, we may not have it in their size next week. Ordering small quantities also allows us to increase the variety we offer because we don't end up sitting on merchandise that won't move. When we sell out of certain styles, we refill the space with something new. It keeps our apparel department looking fresh and encourages people to keep coming back to see what's new.