Every dancer needs tights, but finding the right pair can often be frustrating for customers. Searching a display for the correct color or style can get confusing, which means an organized and functional display is a must.
Staff assistance plays a large role in helping customers find the correct tights, making them different from other products in your store. For this reason, tights have their own set of merchandising rules. We spoke to three dance retailers to learn how they display tights. Here’s their best advice.
Don’t Move Your Display
You move your fashion displays around often to give your store a fresh look and to help stale merchandise move. But this retail rule does not apply to selling tights. “Do not change things around,” says Chelsea Gilroy, manager of 21-year-old Soleus Dance & Fitness Wear in Redding, CA. “Moms are used to going to a certain spot. If they always grab the second pair to the left, they know where to find them when they come back.” Because tights require the customer to read smaller labels, it can be easy to mistakenly select the wrong pair. Gilroy says that whenever she rearranged the display, customers would often accidentally grab the wrong color or style.
Soleus displays tights on a custom-made iron rack that is 4 feet wide, 1 1/2 feet deep and 6 1/2 feet tall, with four shelves. Tights are lined up in neat rows, arranged by color. Kids’ styles are kept separate on the top shelf. Manufacturers’ tights “cards” or swatches are right next to the display rack so customers can easily compare colors and feel the tights without taking them out of the package.
Gilroy also makes sure to have staff members approach any customer who is headed to the tights display. “People need a lot of help when they look for tights,” she says. “If I see anyone at the tights rack, I immediately go over. They may know what they are supposed to get, but don’t know what it looks like, even if they’ve been in our store before.”
To separate the packages of tights and create neat rows, Gilroy strings ribbons from the front of the shelf to the back. This helps keep the display organized, even after customers have thumbed through the packages all day. “That way if the manufacturer changes its packaging, it’s easy to adjust,” she says.
DISPLAY TIP Assign a staff member to regularly restock your tights display and check that all of the styles are in the correct place. Dedicating a few minutes to this daily can save your customers a lot of frustration in the long run.
Small Stores Benefit From Small Displays
While you need to stock a solid inventory of tights, you don’t need to keep them all on the sales floor. Bellissimo Dance Boutique in Franklin, TN, is 800 square feet. Co-owner Patrice Powell likes to use that space to show off fashion and apparel styles. “For this reason, we do not devote a lot of space to essentials like tights,” she says. “We want customers to spend time looking at our dancewear. Tights are an item dancers will buy regardless, because they have to have them.” Her solution: She displays only three of each style, color and size in bins placed on shelves that are built into the wall. The rest of the tights inventory is stored in the back stockroom.
Using bins helps free up valuable space for other displays. “Our bin system helps customers more easily distinguish between the many different styles of tights,” she adds. “Each bin holds one style of tights. Though it has many different colors and sizes in it, all are at least the same style.”
DISPLAY TIP If you don’t have a ton of space to dedicate to tights, you can show them off in your apparel displays. Dress mannequins or leg forms in popular styles to show customers how they look out of the package. Pairing tights with a leotard in your displays can also encourage customers to buy the full outfit, which will increase your bottom line.
Great Walls Make for Great Sales
Creating a tights wall is an extremely beneficial sales technique. Stephanie Carney, co-owner of Grit & Grace Dancewear in Newnan, GA, says that the grid wall she displays tights on works well for the vast number of different tights she needs to showcase. “It’s a very visual display,” she says. “It’s eye level and easily accessible as a grab-and-go item for customers. And it’s within the first 25 feet of the store, so it catches the eye and reminds them to buy tights.”
Carney thinks it’s important to showcase the majority of the store’s inventory in a clean way so that customers can more easily find what they need. “Most studios have a tights requirement,” she says. “It can be a little overwhelming for first-time dance purchasers who are not familiar with the different styles, colors and manufacturers.”
The grid display is 4 by 8 feet and holds more than 600 pairs of tights. But just seeing them isn’t always enough, so Carney and her staff are always at the ready to step in and offer help. “Some dancers might have sensory issues [kids may be sensitive to fabrics/tags/seams, etc.], and selecting the right tights for this customer is vital to having a happy dancer,” she says. “Our sales staff always assists—explaining the difference in brands and styles or locating the customer’s studio’s requirement if the purchaser has questions.”
Plus, good customer service has helped Carney sell extra pairs. “Tights sales are a good way to bring in customers who want to take advantage by stockpiling tights, since they are a necessity,” she says. “Good customer service and a gentle reminder at checkout, especially during back-to-school and after recitals, as well as during competition season, is important. A dancer can never have too many tights!”
DISPLAY TIP Create a swatch book of each color and style of tights that you carry, so customers can feel the material and you don’t have to open any packages before they are purchased. This can be especially helpful for any new customers or those with sensory issues.
Photos courtesy of the retailers