New and Fresh for Twenty-Three Years

For twenty three years, Appalachian Outfitters has morphed and changed, but its foundationa

l pillars have stood the test of time. We provide customers with quality clothing and gear to safely and comfortably enjoy the outdoors. We also demonstrate our love of the planet by supporting events, programs and organizations that preserve open spaces and reduce our impact on the natural environment.  As a specialty retailer, we excel in customer service and community outreach by way of events and partnerships with like-minded local and regional organizations. We firmly believe in keeping things fresh and visually appealing on the floor. Here are a few simple (and effective) rules for merchandising that have worked well for us over the years.

♦    Refresh, Refresh, Refresh! Loyal customers stop by frequently. They know the merchandise and notice changes. We constantly refresh the drive aisles making sure inventory is re-merchandised so that customers are excited to walk around the store.

♦    Outfit mannequins often. We make a point to show the different ways of wearing items and change our mannequins every 1-2 weeks (or more). It helps our customers see the “story” we are creating through different looks. It’s also easier to sell an outfit if the customer gets a visual of how it looks on a form.

♦    Focus on customer ease of shopping. We tailor our store to our customers’ specific needs. They are brand-loyal customers, so we are careful not to mix brands together. Often, we create a single brand outfit on each arm of a fixture (top, pant, mid layer and accessories). This helps unite our brand stories for the consumer.  As well, merchandising a single brand together is a simple task because it is designed and bought as a brand collection.

♦    Training our associates on technical standards is key in keeping the apparel looking tidy. Associates are taught where to sensor items and how to hang pants correctly as well as steaming and folding standards, so there is visual consistency. Sounds simple, but often these standards are overlooked. Also, waxing our bars once a week has made a big difference in easy utilization of our racks.

♦    End of season sales create the problem of random clearance items. We move some items to a clean and tidy clearance rack in the back. But, we also try to merchandise as many items as we can on tables and racks toward the back of the apparel sections to keep them feeling fresh and appealing like any other full priced item. We create ‘looks’ where we can, and do out best to keep all of the brands together.

♦    Bring in fresh eyes. If there is an educational institution in your community with a merchandising program don’t hesitate to utilize some of its students. They’re always looking to expand their experience (and portfolio) and you’ll find that the new blood and fresh thinking can be a great asset to your retail environment.

Leah Morgan, Assistant Merchandiser, Appalachian Outfitters       (Kent State Fashion Merchandising Graduate)