Apparel can be a lucrative profit center for NATSO members that invest in the category. Elizabeth Waring, president of Johnson & Johnson Inc., which operates Busy Bee locations, sat down with NATSO to share her thoughts on how she is making the most of apparel and the value it brings to her customers.
Can you tell us more about the apparel you offer?
Our interstate stores are in the North Central part of Florida which means we are usually on our guests’ way to Disney World, the beach or to state football games. Because of this we try to make sure to meet the needs of any of these groups as well as appeal to the guest that might be looking for something a little fun and different. We also carry a selection of Florida-themed shirts for guests visiting our state.
How do you decide what to carry?
We have a wonderful director of merchandising who focuses on finding the perfect gift items to fill our stores. When looking for items, he concentrates on each type of guest that comes through our locations and then matches the perfect product with the perfect store. Having someone that is in touch with our guests makes a large impact on how our gift section is shaped. He keeps an open channel of communication with our teams and our guests so that he stays on trend while matching guests needs.
What are the most popular items or best sellers in your store?
The apparel items we carry really have a seasonal appeal to our guests, making the sales of these items seasonal as well. During the summer time we make sure to have beach and vacation items like cover ups or large straw hats. During the fall we make sure to stock up on our collegiate items, so everyone can bee game day ready. In addition, we believe our guests like to show their Busy Bee pride by wearing shirts branded with our company logo and punny sayings.
Do you have items for women or men or both?
We carry apparel items for both men and women as well as items for children and babies. We always attempt to have something to offer every member of the family so that no one is left empty handed.
How do you display the apparel?
Depending on the size of the location, we have custom displays for our merchandise.
How often do you change your merchandise?
We make sure that all merchandise is assessed and rotated at least quarterly. Having an amazing gift section team that really work all year long to keep up with what our guests are looking for and help them locate items makes a huge impact in our overall guest satisfaction. In turn these teammates make sure to work hand in hand with our Director of Retail so that everything stays fresh and is exactly what our guests are looking for.
Are there any best practices you’d share with other operators?
It’s impossible to stock and merchandise a store without really understanding your guests and why they are in your location. The more you talk with them and your teams the easier it will be to fill your location with the perfect items! Look at your surrounding area and be aware of local schools, groups or teams and be sure to consider them when choosing product.
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