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April 2017 | HARDWARE RETAILING 47 She removed a run of shelving from the outdoor living and sporting goods department, which is located at the front of the store, creating a mini power aisle. Now, the power aisle provides an area for showing grills, while the open space creates more visibility for products on surrounding gondolas. To further capitalize on that space, Guisler uses the area to reinforce some of the brand names of sporting goods the store carries, including Yeti, Carhartt and Weber. Heavily branded product displays with vendor signage helps establish that T & M Hardware and Rental is a destination for brand names. Create a unique shopping area. As she looked for a niche that would bolster store traffic, particularly among female shoppers, Guisler turned to home decor and gift items. But the challenge is that, up to this point, the store hasn't been a destination for those items. To make the sale, she relies on impulse and inspiration. To help with the impulse part of the sale, Guisler placed the category near the front of the store so it's easily visible to shoppers. To help inspire them to make that impulse purchase, she has created a unique shopping space with products that are colorfully and creatively merchandised. For example, she replaced standard shelving with some unique tables that have a more vintage appearance. "We've given the area the feel of a gift shop," she says. "It feels more inviting than just standard merchandising. I feel like it's a place where customers will want to stop and look." She keeps the price point of most of those items under $20, as that seems to be the ideal range for an impulse buy. If customers aren't looking for something for themselves, it's likely they will shop for a gift. Like the sporting goods department directly next to it, a departure from the typical run of 7-foot shelving means the area has open space, so shoppers are more likely to notice it. Small changes have large returns. Not all of the changes at the Harmony store have been major; small adjustments or embellishments have also had a big impact. For example, in all of the T & M Hardware and Rental stores, pegboard behind the displays is painted brown. "The merchandise pops out on the dark background as opposed to the standard white background," says Samantha Post, marketing and human resources manager for the store. "Your eye is more likely to catch the product on the hook or shelf." The paint department is another area that received a lot of attention last year. Post and her team gave it an overhaul with a new paint counter and new signage. Then to add in some additional fun, they hung paint can lids, painted in different colors, along the bottom of the paint department signage. "It creates a little fun and draws customers over to see what is happening over there," Post says. Create unique merchandisers to call attention to niche departments that may be new to your store.