Expectations for back-to-school season are high. The increase in popularity of categories like ballroom, liturgical and Zumba brought in new customers during the slow season, and those shoppers will stay loyal this fall. In this issue, we offer smart sales and merchandising ideas that will prepare you for larger crowds and make this year more successful than the last.
In order to top last year’s sales, make sure your style selection matches customer demand. This fall, basics remain among the most requested categories, and in “The Barre Necessities” (pg. 16), we’re showing the current must-haves from your favorite manufacturers. Since no style or dancer is the same, fashion editor Kristin Schwab shares tips on fitting the right leotard to each body type.
Another great way to increase back-to-school sales is to focus on one of your other top selling category—pointe shoes. Introduce a pointe shoe loyalty club, and you’ll not only grow your customer base, you’ll have a new way to give back to existing shoppers. Plus, there are other advantages to tracking dancers’ pointe shoe purchases. Learn more in “A Shoe In” (pg. 34).
The more shoes you sell, the higher the demand for tights will be. Make your legwear selection easy to shop with a few tweaks to your current display. In “In Good Form” (pg. 22), we share three tights displays that prevent customers from making a mess of your inventory.
In this issue you’ll also find coverage from the 2011 DRN Expo. See exclusive images from the exhibit hall and a recap of the educational breakout sessions (pg. 20). The education you received at this year’s Expo will help make back-to-school season a success.
What are you doing in your store to build back-to-school sales? Tell us what shopping incentives or merchandising plans you plan to implement this year. E-mail email@example.com.
Back-to-school may still be a few months away, but May is the time to place your orders. You’ll want to be ready when crowds of eager dancers flock in for armloads of new product, so we packed this issue with advice to get you ready for the busy season. Here’s DRN’s checklist for fall planning.
Order Early: Start with our handy Back-to-School Buying Guide (pg. 20) to keep track of deadlines and incentives from top makers. You’ll want to hang on to this for a few months—several of the
discounts extend well into September.
Order Wisely: Now is also a good time to check with local studios for any changes to their dress codes. More teachers are recommending their students seek out technical fabrics—and there are lots out there. Writer Courtney Rae Allen explains the latest textiles in “Fabric Forecast” (pg. 22).
Add Lots of Options: Our experts are recommending that you stock plenty of dance and active wear separates this fall. Dance teams need jazz pants to wear to early season practices, and a good selection of workout tops will catch the eye of fitness enthusiasts. We’ve got the latest styles and best-sellers in “Let’s Get Physical!” (pg. 16).
Enhance Your Image: Polish up your displays with some new ideas. In “Product Placement” (pg. 27), Leslie Groves offers tips on how to make a $5 product look as if it should cost $15.
Take a Break: Last—but certainly not least—make time for a vacation. We know it’s not easy to leave your store, but it is possible. In “Vacations 101” (pg. 34), we spoke to three storeowners to learn how they prepare their store, and staff, for their absence.
What does your back-to-school checklist look like? Tell us what you do during the summer months to get in gear for fall. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
With summer comes an end to your slow season. Intensives are around the corner and dancers are ready to update their shoes and apparel. They already need to shop; now give them a reason to pick your store. Position yourself as a dance expert and always have something new to offer, and you’ll gain extra business. Read on—we’ve filled this issue with ideas you can put to work right away.
Replenish your racks with fresh product. Dancers want to stand out during summer training, so show them new leotards in bold colors. And don’t forget the basics for students with a dress code. We’ve got them all in “Summer Sophisticates” (pg. 16).
You should also consider adding a new product category—it’s the fastest way to reach more customers. The demand for praise garments was once a regional trend, but the popularity of liturgical dance is spreading. In “Liturgical Dance Spreads Its Wings” (pg. 20), we spoke to retailers from New York to North Carolina to find out how they connect with the liturgical dancers in their area and how they accommodate their apparel needs. The most orders for liturgical wear are placed before Christmas and Easter, says Tolbert Yilmaz, president of Eurotard. That should set you up for the post-back-to-school and late-winter lulls.
Focusing more marketing to kids year-round is another smart way to boost sales. No baby ballerina will be able to resist the extra attention she’ll receive at an event just for her. The most effective in-store events target dance moms, too. Win the loyalty of both this summer with these effective ideas in “Child’s Play” (pg. 24).
Then, find out in “Retailer Roundup” (pg. 25) how tuning in to your community’s needs will increase sales. For example, Lyn Naruo of Step-N-Up Hawaii expanded her “Store to Your Door” program to Zumba studios when she noticed a lot of classes being held nearby. “Zumba is big year-round,” she says, “so when my sales drop, this helps keep things going.”
We want to hear about any exciting changes you’re making this summer. Share your stories with me.
During the lull between the holidays and recital season, retailers need to work harder to get customers’ attention. This is the time
to tackle the renovation projects you put off last fall. Overhaul your stock, retool displays and streamline strategies. Your efforts will bring extra business to your store.
Take a look at the products with the best margins—shoes. Make sure your stock reflects the latest—and hottest—trends. DRN went to all the top shoemakers and got their classic and best-selling styles, plus their tips on how to up-sell customers. See page 16 for “Shoe-topia.”
A small amount of money can go a long way when updating your displays. Find out which racks to toss and how to arrange the ones you keep in “Fixture Fix-Up” (pg. 18). Then, read our display columnist Leslie Groves (pg. 27) for tips on using color and size to your advantage when you design your next window display.
Need more ways to get noticed? Read “Don’t Hit Delete! 9 Tips for Getting Customers to Open Your E-mails” (pg. 32) for expert advice on improving your e-mail campaign. We share surefire subject lines and help you determine the smartest frequency.
Take these ideas and put them to work for your business today. Then tell DRN what worked best. We’d love to hear from you. Post your success stories on our Facebook fan page or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Retailers always have ordering on their minds: How many will I need to make it through back-to-school? How much of that new apparel category should I order? There’s no magic number—ordering is different for everyone. But you can still take full advantage of all the incentives that dancewear-makers offer. To make that easier, we tracked down the deadlines and deals from all the major manufacturers for our “Guide to Ordering in 2011” (pg. 20). Scoop up specials on recital season orders, free shipping offers and DRN Expo exclusives. You’ll want to hang on to this guide, since the list includes deals for the whole year.
We’ve made a few changes to DRN for 2011 that will help you build sales and run your store more smoothly. You’ll find more essential small-business news, like new tax breaks, loan programs and resources for independent business owners, in “In the News” (pg. 10). And there will be more coverage of new lines and products to fill your store. You’ll also find extra retailer-to-retailer advice in Seen & Heard. This month we’re looking into ways to protect your store from staff theft, but the tips don’t end there. Turn to page 24 to find great event ideas and inspired promotions.
Practice gear has always been a must-have for dancers, so check out these workout-worthy styles and add them to your 2011 order. In “Fundamental Fashion” (pg. 16), we ask manufacturers to share their best-selling looks for dance teams. These sell individually, but you can also market them to coaches for large group orders.
Stylish and functional hair accessories will surely fly off the shelves. Take a look at “Hair Flair” (pg. 14) for fun elastic headbands that will keep dancers’ do’s in place during tough practice sessions, plus glitzy tiaras that will shimmer onstage this recital season.
Want to reach new customers? Why not hook up with a local studio and hold an on-site sale? Amy Kenney, owner of Boulder Bodywear in Boulder, CO, says in-studio sales have helped her gain business. “We’ve had three-hour on-site sales that have netted us $6,000,” she says. In “Remote Access” (pg. 34), learn how three retailers transport their goods, handle sales and strengthen their studio relationships.
You can learn more great ways to increase sales at this year’s DRN Expo. We’ve selected top industry experts who are brimming with ideas, and you’ll also meet fellow storeowners. Don’t forget our exhibit hall will also be packed with your favorite manufacturers. Taking one weekend away from your store never promised better results. Register today at www.drnexpo.com.
-Libby Dowd, Editor