Posts Tagged ‘opening a retail store’

A Retail & Wholesale Success Story

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Check out Via Trading’s latest Customer Success Story!

A Community’s Needs Met Leads to Increased Profits: A Retail Success Story

One of the key factors that contributes to the success of a new business venture is the ability to identify an opportunity and fill an untapped niche. Glen Rundell of Specialz Outlet in North Carolina embraced this idea, and here is his story.

Until about a year ago, Rundell had spent several years in the real estate industry, dabbling in both the sale and construction of residential and commercial property. As the economy and housing markets continued to decline, he began looking for other opportunities in late 2010. A life-long entrepreneur, Rundell wanted to provide a product or service at a great value when people were most concerned about how they spent their hard-earned dollars…

Read more on our website!

Good Merchandising in a Retail Store = More Sales!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Merchandising Tips for Discount Stores

  • An attractive storefront is important! Make sure the entrance entices people to come in, has a clear “entrance” sign and is clean and welcoming.
  • Make use of your store windows. Ensure you use them to communicate what you sell, any promotions you’re running, discounts you’re offering and other messages (like opening hours). Change your messages up at least twice a month to avoid the perception that you have nothing new to offer.
  • Organize merchandise by the category whenever possible to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for.
  • When laying out your store, put similar/relevant items near each other. For example, if you’re selling beds or mattresses, put your bedding and linen items in the same section of your store. This will help you up-sell and get the most out of each customer’s visit. “Buying a mattress? Check out our bed-in-bag sets to go with your new mattress!”
  • Place your pricing sticker in the same area on each product. This creates consistency and allows your customers to find the price easily.
  • Use a simple dating system to help you determine how long products are sitting in your store before they sell. For example, use a letter and number format like A, B, C for the months and 1, 2, 3 for the days of the month. An item marked A1 would then have been in your store since January 1st. This will allow you to quickly see what has been in the store for too long so you can discount it and make room for new items.
  • Clear the aisles. Make it easy for customers to walk through the aisles without any hindrance – blocked aisles result in no-go areas and lost sales.
  • Walk the store as if you were a customer. Do you bang into merchandise or displays? Is merchandise hard to reach? Is it difficult to find what you want? If so, make the necessary changes.
  • Purchase retail displays for small merchandise. Instead of dumping small items into bins that customers have to rummage through, consider purchasing retail displays on which to hang the items to make them more attractive AND easier to see for your customers.
  • Keep the store clean. Just because these are discounted items doesn’t mean they have to be dirty, dusty and unattractive.
  • Assign sufficient staff to be responsible for merchandising. Making items attractive on the shelves, replenishing shelves once certain items sell out and keeping the store tidy and well laid out is a full time position and requires a hands-on individual. Don’t skimp on the things that make your store attractive to your customers!
  • Put tall items against walls so that they don’t block the view throughout your store.
  • Keep items within arms’ reach. Stacking shelves too high with merchandise is not only potentially hazardous, but it can also result in customers not buying certain items because they physically can’t reach them.
  • Eye level is buy level! Keep a note of your best selling items and place them at eye level on the shelves.
  • Choose an area inside your store to put your clearance items and keep that space consistently. Return customers will know to go look there for new great deals on clearance items.
  • Use signage to communicate key messages like discounts. Use signage also to define merchandise categories in your store. You can hang those from the ceiling or put them on sign holders, but give your customers an easy to way to know what is where inside the store.
  • Use small shelf signage to communicate product-specific messages. Shelf signage can be placed on specific shelves to communicate something about that exact product.
  • Put smaller items and low priced items near the checkout counter to encourage impulse buys!
  • Stage the merchandise where feasible. For example, use mannequins to display clothing, dress beds with sheets/pillows/comforters. The more customers are able to visualize how the item may look in their home, the more likely they are to buy it.
  • Separate clothing by men, women and children and organize it by size – all size Small on one rack, all size Medium on another rack, etc.
  • Offer baskets or shopping carts to help customers carry merchandise. If you offer no carrying solution, customers will purchase only what they are able to hold in their hands.
  • Make the shopping experience pleasant! Make sure your store is at a comfortable temperature with sufficient lighting. An uncomfortable experience can lead to customers cutting their visits short.
  • Take one item out of its box to show your customers what the actual item looks like (and to avoid them opening boxes themselves).
  • Take advantage of loss leaders to bring in additional traffic into your store. A loss leader is a product sold at a low price (at cost or sometimes below cost) to stimulate other profitable sales.
  • Train your staff on product knowledge so that they are better able to answer any questions customer may have.
  • Ensure your staff greets customers pleasantly and let them know they’re available to help if need.
  • Invest in a retail Point of Sale system that can provide you with a detailed sales analysis to enable you to know what sells and what merchandise is lagging in sales.
  • October 2010 Customer of the Month! Bernard McClay of Kokoro Shopping, Inc.

    Friday, October 8th, 2010


    Bernard McCLay – Owner of Kokoro Shopping, Inc.

    Bernard McClay, a long-time customer of Via Trading, recently gave us some insight into what it’s like to run a brick & mortar discount store with a specific focus on hardgoods: tools, home & garden, industrial products, etc.Mr. McClay runs a warehouse outlet in Rancho Cucamonga, and has grown his business considerably over the last few years. “I started selling pallets of merchandise at yard sales and quickly realized there was an opportunity to do something bigger and increase my sales. In less than two years we’ve grown from purchasing single pallets at a time, to buying whole truckloads of tools in one go.”

    McClay focuses on reselling customer returns, liquidations and some overstock items. “I decided to get into selling hardgoods when i realized the kind of demand there was for these types of items, and that the profit margin potential was there. I surveyed and tested several categories but I found that- especially when you plan to test the items -  it’s best to sell things you know something about.” He added that it does take a certain level of skill and service to resell certain types of items and differentiate yourself from the competition.

    McClay’s primary business is his warehouse outlet, which supplements with online sales. “I list items on eBay and Craigslist, and I often use other channels to move merchandise like consigning the products to other businesses, selling them at auction, wholesaling them or even bartering them. “We’ve even traded merchandise for food!” he stated.Aside from the aforementioned secondary resale channels that McClay uses to move his merchandise, he has launched three websites that he uses both to drive traffic to his primary business (the warehouse outlet), and where he resells different types of products and services. is a retail website for industrial supplies including industrial equipment, power tools, cleaning & janitorial supplies, furniture, hand tools, vehicle maintenance, etc. provides an avenue for McClay to liquidate branded clothing at significantly discounted prices. You’ll find great deals on Levis, Dockers, Dickies and other famous denim brands there. provides information and seminars on how to sell merchandise using various resale outlets (online, flea markets, etc).

    “I take a well-rounded approach to the business. My brick & mortar store allows me to resell the returns and salvage items I buy, while my online sales allow me to make a little more off of higher ticket and newer items. I complement all of this by selling services and knowledge, and teaching people how to make this business work for them. There is a learning curve involved and I’ve been through it, so I teach others how to get there too.”

    When asked how much of a return on investment he typically expects to make on any given load that he purchases, Mr. McClay replies “Realistically? 20% net. We research every product in the load and try to sell most of the items for 40% to 50% of its retail value. That allows us to remain competitive but does cut into our profits a little bit. The point of this is to offer merchandise for a lot cheaper than what people can get it for in the store, so it makes sense.”

    Over the years, Mr. McClay has honed in on the types of products that suit his business model and that do well for him. He now typically purchases truckloads at a time, though occasionally he sources individual pallets if he has customers with specific needs he needs to fill. He works with 3 different suppliers, depending on the product they are offering and what he might be looking for at any given time. These days, over 90% of his purchases are made at Via Trading.

    “One thing people should look out for in this business is to find reliable suppliers. This is a dog-eat-dog industry and it’s important to look at a supplier’s reputation and the customer support they can offer you. Since it’s not a clean-cut “buy it, it’s brand new, resell it for a great profit” kind of business, customer support is paramount- you need to know that your supplier is there if there’s a problem with your load.”

    Other aspects Mr. McClay stressed as important things to look for in a supplier were locality (if you can visit the supplier in person and inspect the goods, more power to you), consistency of product (you want to make sure you can build a loyal customer base for a type of product that will be available consistently), and quantity/qualify of supply (that the goods be of good quality and plentiful).  “The success of your business largely depends on the product you get – how consistently you get it – what quality of product you get. Don’t be afraid to interview your suppliers and find those that fit your standards.”

    As an entrepreneur, Mr. McClay recommends to all who are considering entering into business for themselves reselling merchandise to “learn from others and know all your options before you leap.” It’s much harder to get back on your feet after making poor critical decisions, and much easier to plan things out correctly from the start. “Consider attending one of our start-up seminars – they give you a lot of valuable information and help you make some more educated decisions from the get-go.”