Many shoppers enter inspirational stores with specific purchase ideas in mind. Most commonly, these may be crystals, religious or spiritual medals, inspirational books, incense, or candles. But for stores that also carry apparel and accessories, it’s important to encourage shoppers to consider these purchases, too. Shop owners and staff offer their tips to raise shoppers’ interest in adding these items to their inspirational shopping list.
At Scents & Inspiration in Lancaster, Calif., Owner Jolynne Lewis carries bracelets with Christian symbols, scarves, necklaces, earrings, and rhinestone-studded T-shirts with inspirational messages. Lewis is just beginning to use social media, but within her shop, she relies primarily on display to improve sales on all these items. “We just make sure to keep our merchandise fresh, including jewelry, scarves, and T-shirts,” she says. “If I get a new idea for a display, I’ll use it. We rotate items to keep things current, and change things out whenever we get new items in.” She displays her shirts along a wall for maximum exposure in her 1300-square-foot store. “We also customize items, and that personal touch additionally encourages people to buy clothing and jewelry,” she attests.
In Phoenix, Ariz., Susan Nichols, owner of Yoga Styles, offers high quality products designed for the “yoga lifestyle” along with yoga classes, harmonic chant events, and a wide range of products from eye pillows to bolsters. When it comes to accessory and apparel items, Nichols says “I’m known for my yoga bags. I’ve been making them in the U.S. for 19 years, and many of our competitors do not offer U.S.- made bags. They’re very high quality, and honestly, word of mouth is what draws my customers into the store and sells these bags.” When it comes to apparel, she says that some of her best-selling items are tie-dyed shirts, dresses, and jackets.
To sell more of these items, Nichols employs a combination of factors. “We do a lot of social media. We create a presence at trade shows. We are always interacting with our customers as well. We will reach out over the internet, and when people come into the shop we are always suggesting items.” She adds “I work at developing a relationship with my customers, so they remember what we do and who we are. We’re not in an area with a lot of drop-in customers, so it’s important to establish a relationship for anything that we sell, but particularly with clothing and accessory items.” Nichols’ shop offers 550 square feet of retail space, with an additional 500 square feet devoted to manufacturing.
At Invoke, a spiritual shop in Portland, Ore., Owner Kristie Williams carries a large number of jewelry items. “We have custom-made amulets and pendants. A lot of our items are locally made by area artists. To sell more of these accessory pieces it’s really all about display. I’m a lover of antiques and other unusual furnishings, so I’ll use up-cycled items in my displays to really make them stand out,” she asserts. “I’ll use antique metal fans to hang earrings, or candle stands as displays for crystal jewelry.” As far as apparel items go, Williams offers screen-printed hoods known as skoodies for ceremonies or festivals, as well as wraps which feature patterns of Norse symbols and runes. “Having a good display for these apparel items is key in our interaction with customers. People come into our shop looking for a particular experience, so I don’t pry into their needs or market anything in particular. Many of our customers are drawn to us by word of mouth.”
In Hermosa Beach, Calif., Rena Joy Shamie, owner of the 800-square-foot Soothe Your Soul, carries a large selection of gemstone jewelry. “We have probably several thousand selections, everything from pendants to rings, bracelets, and necklaces. We also sell small velvet bags with decorative beading as an accessory,” she relates. While her shop recently carried organic cotton yoga clothes and natural fabric items, currently she is not offering apparel in her beach city location. “To sell more of these kinds of items, we rely a great deal on social media such as Facebook and Instagram, and we also create attractive in-store displays that are designed to catch the eye.”
At Vision Quest Books in Phoenix, Ariz., Shift Leader Ashley Ronnfeldt says her shop primarily sells jewelry such as earrings and pendants in the accessory category. “We encourage sales through social media such as Facebook and Instagram, we highlight attractive displays, and we really engage with our customers one-on-one. I’m always available to help customers pick out what they are looking for based on the energy they want to create.” In the apparel category, Ronnfeldt’s store offers T-shirts and tank tops. For these clothing items, she says display is the strongest component when it comes to boosting sales. “The shirts are on an end-cap of our book section and they’re right in the flow of traffic. Keeping them in a prominent place is a definite help in selling more of these items. We try to keep them front and center because they’re not what people necessarily come into the store to purchase. They come for psychic readings, incense, and candles. So, we want them to see what else we have available, and placement is very important.”
At Garsons Catholic Religious Store in Albuquerque, N.M., Retail Associate Leah Davidson relies on categorized display sections and staff knowledge to sell more accessory and apparel items. “We sell a lot of jewelry, traditional classic holy medals on chains, crosses, also a lot of bracelets either with holy medals or just rosary bracelets with a certain number of beads. We sell them for all ages, that is the predominant type of jewelry we sell from babies up. In clothing, we sell First Communion accessories such as socks, veils, and neckties, and we also sell chapel veils or mantillas to older women. They’re very popular right now.” Davidson says that additionally, the shop sells small pouches for rosaries and occasionally stocks canvas bags that feature the images of saints. Along with displaying items in organized categories, Davidson notes “We’re part of a larger group of companies, F.C. Zeiglers, and they have a website that promotes what we have in the store. That also helps us to sell more of these items. Here, we just try to make it easier for people to shop. They usually know what they want when they come in, so it’s really about steering them in the right direction, and helping them to make a decision between different types of items.”
Overall, creating stronger sales for apparel and accessory items in inspirational stores means prominent displays, social media, and skilled personal service. In short, letting customers know that these items are available is the best way to improve sales in these categories.