Ahh, the aroma of boardwalk fries and salty sea air is tingling your nostrils. The gulls are shrieking and diving for scraps, while the warm breeze blows in from the ocean. If you’re a seasonal business at the beach, you should already have your store customer-ready so you can sit down and enjoy the tourist season. You might need to add a few things this year, like some flexible displays and a clear policy on social distancing and mask-wearing.
While the mask mandate has been lifted, experts are still encouraging cautionary behavior. Many people are still wearing masks, and those who feel comfortable are going without. Make a decision either way and communicate it to both employees and customers. “Masks encouraged” is not a clear definition of what you want. If you want customers to have their faces covered while shopping in your store at the beach, have clear signage that says so. Make sure all your employees are masked as well. Customers don’t like to be confused and they don’t want to have to ask each store owner.
Most beach shops are tight quarters, so your social distancing policy should be clear as well. If you only want to allow a limited number of bodies in the store at once, use signage to share the numbers and even a count-down ticker to let people know how long they’ll have to wait outside. If your space allows, use floor markers at intervals and ask patrons to heed them.
Make the best use of the time for those who choose to wait in line outside or who simply don’t want to enter the store. Encourage them to browse a catalog or list of specials (sunglasses, for example) to pique their interest and turn them into a customer. Show simple items like postcards, suntan lotion, sunglasses and sunhats on portable rotating racks. Other handy outside fixtures include various sizes of bins that can stand alone on the ground or be perched on a tabletop. You can fill them with high-inventory items that are easy to “dig” through — think bandannas, cloth sun hats or baseball caps, lip balms. The bins will have lightweight contents, so they can be moved easily in and out of the store. They are meant to look like controlled chaos, so don’t worry about the contents being a bit jumbled.
Outdoors, sturdy wire storage fixtures that stand tall from floor height are great for odd-shaped or larger sized items, like collapsible beach chairs, beach umbrellas and boogie boards. These wire “boxes” allow customers to see the inventory and to remove their selections easily. Indoors, the wire look allows easy viewing of all items.
Invest in some additional hanging racks for summer. If your t-shirt and sweatshirt inventory is jammed together on five racks with no space between them, it may be time to change your thinking. Try floor-to-ceiling waterfall racks that allow space between each item. Or, switch from racks to shelving and eliminate the hangers all together. Tables with shelving or floor-standing cubbies are ideal for separating merchandise by size or color. In addition, the shelves will be neater and give the illusion of a bigger space between each table or shelving unit, therefore giving more space to the customer.
Be creative in your fixtures this year. Welcome back your customers to a safe, value-added shopping experience at the beach.