museums&MORE Spring 2015
Add-On to Your Bottom Line By Zeke Jennings

If your checkout counter is the default place to stash small items and trinkets you don’t know what else to do with, you could be wasting a valuable display area.

After all, the checkout area is one of the last images most customers will see of your store prior to leaving, not to mention what they’re looking at as they pull out their cash, credit card or checkbook.

Museums & More recently polled gift store managers from museums and destination spots from around the U.S. about best practices for add-on and impulse merchandise display.

The theme or geographic location of your store likely plays a part in what items may be best suited for your counter, although we were continually told handheld items, such as books, postcards, magnets and stickers are good sellers.

The most common answer, however, was candy.

Everybody wants candy,” said Julie Oliver of Shaddow Domain gift shop in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Here are more responses as well as looks at some successful add-on displays we received:

screen_shot_2015-04-16_at_9-59-17_amWhat are the biggest keys to creating a successful checkout counter add-on display?

“Having enough space on-counter around the register. Items need to be displayed for last-minute purchases, but customers don’t like to feel crowded when they are cashing out.” — Susan Layman, Smith-Sherlock General Store, South Pass City Historic Site, Wyoming

“Access, info on price and sign with selling features.” — Carole Couture, Museum at Bethel Woods store, Bethel, New York

“Keep it simple and have it displayed nicely.” — Deb Lewis, Grout Museum District, Waterloo, Iowa

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received or could offer regarding add-on merchandising or display?

“Discount items that are not moving because at some time they begin to cost you more than you paid for them. They look shop-worn, out-of-date and say there is something wrong with these items and/or the shop.” — Sally D’Agostino, Museum of Western Colorado, Grand Junction, Colorado

“Rotate product.” — Mitchell Merrick, Jessie Steele Inc., Berkeley, California

“Make the product look desirable, but don’t clutter the counter. Use the less-is-more concept when displaying at the checkout counter.” — Becky Byers, Washington-on-the-Brazos Historic Site, Washington, Texas

bluedorn_scienceBluedorn Science Imaginarium, Waterloo, Iowa

“I believe having a great selection of items that reflects our museum exhibits and science demonstrations is a key to add-ons and merchandise sales in general. It is easy to sell plush snakes when they have had an opportunity to watch or touch one during a demonstration. Also having a price range that fits all budgets is beneficial as well.” — Deb Lewis, museum coordinator

western_museum_of_coloradoMuseum of Western Colorado, Grand Junction, Colorado

“Being a working lab as well as a museum gives us a great opportunity to showcase the local fossils. Teachers purchase the castings to use in class when studying dinosaurs, and children enjoy having a fossil replica to wear or place on a shelf as a remembrance of their vacation.” — Sally D’Agostino, gift shop manager.

old_jail_museumOld Jail Museum, Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

“Our impulse items are books about the Old Jail written by my husband and me, photos … and magnets with scenes of the Old Jail.” — Betty Lou McBride, manager.

Zeke Jennings

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