Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gentlemen’s (and Ladies’) Night

Today’s entry will be suggesting an upgrade on the concept most commonly labeled ‘The Trunk Show’. Invite one of the major apparel vendors to set up their entire line of samples for the coming season including any item that they currently have in inventory so as to be able to pre-book as well as take at-once orders. Set up in a conference room or grill room; any space that is appropriate to create a store-like atmosphere with rigged bust forms and attention-to-detail merchandising. With the leaders in the industry, Fairway and Greene, Peter Millar and Greg Norman, you can do Ladies’ as well as Men’s. Some of the other vendors that have great fall lines and would be outstanding partners in this venture are Carnoustie and House of Carrington. If your Club handles logoed blazers this is a good time to partner with a vendor who can send in a size run and fit your ‘gentlemen’ professionally. This gives your membership or regular customers an opportunity to get to know the Rep, hear the Company story, ask questions about the product and generally be wowed by the length and breadth of these lines.

Add to this event the same effort from a few noncompeting categories - perhaps a Martin Dingman or Ecco shoe table or a Zero Restriction rack of outerwear. Payne Mason will send in a Cuban Cigar roller for the appropriate commitment and perhaps a beer, wine or brandy tasting which local distributors can help you arrange and now you have a bazaar-like atmosphere that should create an evening’s worth of special orders as well as improve the sell through in the shop of the participating vendors.

Make sure that your staff is actively involved and knows how to suggest in a soft sell way that any corporate or tournament needs can be handled very effectively. Make the effort a win for the representatives involved by increasing their presence in the shop for the coming season. Being a good partner is a two-way street and of course this means picking your participants carefully and making sure that the ‘Gentlemen’s evening is part of the grand scheme of things for the season.

This concept will only work when it is planned months out and marketed as often and effectively as possible to create hype and a big enough audience to make the endeavor worthwhile to all parties concerned. That being said, it is a good idea to couple it with an Opening day or a Member/Guest or a Demo day and invite members to bring guests, friends and family. Obviously some type of discount is a good idea, a drawing for something significant (new driver or rainsuit) will draw a crowd and local entertainment is usually not hard to entice with some bartering. In short give them an evening or afternoon that they’ll talk about and perhaps start to look forward to because, assuming it is a hit and the feedback is good, you may want to do two events a year (one for fall and one for holiday/spring). It strengthens your relationship with the vendors involved and creates business with no inventory. More importantly it drives home the message, whether it is to members at a club or regular customers at a public facility, that your shop and staff are going the extra mile and that at a time when a lot of merchants are cowering in the corner hoping things get better by themselves your shop not only wants the business but wants to make it a pleasure to do business.