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5 Industry Experts on Merchandising a Pool Store

? Don’t Roll the Merchan-dice when Merchandising a Pool Store ?

Merchandising a Pool Store, Photo Credit Brian Connors of River City Pool & Spa




  • the activity of promoting the sale of goods, especially by their presentation in retail outlets:
  • “problems rooted in overexpansion and poor merchandising.”

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Does your Showroom L?k Like Sh*t?

Those of us with retail stores rely on purchases made from our showroom.  We have stock, knowledgeable and trained sales staff, and specials and sales and rebates galore!  But what message is our store giving out?   “Your store should tell the story when you are unable to.”  Wise advice from my mentor and friend, Jim Blanton.

What does this mean? If you are with a guest, on the phone, or the person is “just-looking,” will your store relay to the customer what you have to offer?  Products?  Promotions?  Quality? Expertise? Services? Well, people absorb information, interpret, and make conclusions based on their senses.  Visual is a considerable part of that.

“Visual information processing is the visual reasoning skill that enables us to process and interpret meaning from visual information that we gain through our eyesight.”


Scientifically Speaking

There is actually a science to this.  As humans, we make assumptions based on the “bigger picture.” Our M.O. is to utilize our past experiences to determine a conclusion.

“We make our best guess of what we see based on expectations, beliefs, prior knowledge, and past experiences. In other words, we make calculated assumptions.”

-Psychologist Richard Gregory.

Merchandising a Pool Store, Photo credit Brian Meyer

Merchandise Related Items Together

I have been merchandising since my very first job MANY years ago at Montgomery Wards.  My 22 years of retail experience has carried with me into the pool biz.  There are some tricks-of-the-trade that are universal retail language.  Some are industry and product-specific.  Some are no brainers, and some I hope will make you scratch your head and go.”Whoa.”  The end game is the same:  MAKE MONEY!!!

Merchandising a Pool Store, Photo credit Hampe Pools

Fill-er Up and Face the Shelves

We want things to look full and stocked.  We want it neat and orderly.

-Pull everything to the edge.  All the way to the lip of the shelf or the side of the peg hook.  They sell plastic clips that can push the items to the end of the hook.

-Product bottles, jugs should be touching or generously spaced boutique-style. You don’t want to gape.

-Product Labels straight and centered

-Lids and buckets dusted

-Handles on the backside. This goes for floor stock too.

-Don’t be tempted to angle things. It may look good on that shelf, but when the eye takes in the room, it’s not appealing.

– Straighten any crooked shelving.  We don’t want customers to get seasick.

Courtesy of Jules Johnson @ Mission Pool & Spa Supplies

Beauty Before Age

A lot of us have been open for a long time.  Due to father time and the chemicals, a lot of signs, flyers, rugs, etc. get looking worn.   Yellow and or dingy stuff can age our store. And not like a fine wine.  While we do want to be known for experience, we don’t want “out of date” to come to mind to our guests.

-Beware of old, wrinkled and torn papers, fliers, ads, etc. Is your Pentair poster in the window even from this decade?

-Clutter. Keep the counter items sparse and organized. We want impulse buys, but we don’t want the customer to feel crowded or struggle for a place to put their purse down.

-Keep it bright. Keep the whites white.  Shelving, walls, vents, and even outlet covers.  Make sure all your bulbs are working. Ceiling tiles need to be replaced.  Especially if they have watermarks.

-Clean the too. Dusty, musty smells are horrible, and sadly we don’t notice because we are there every day.

-Rugs & carpets that are faded ripped or torn need to be replaced.  If you can just have them cleaned, go for it!  We don’t want the floor to look like a Vegas casino.


There is a reason multi-million dollar stores use plan-o-grams. With any project, you need blueprints and design. We are not suggesting you take away your freedom.  No!  Embrace it!  But sketch out what you are planning on putting where.  Bust out your tape measure and hang shelves centered on space. Hang things eye level for the average consumer.  Since I am 5’9, I caught myself hanging ideas too high. You don’t want to necessarily use YOUR eye level.  The same for short peeps.  The average height for a man is around 5’9, and a woman is 5’6”.

related article 5 Ways to Deal With Unhappy Customers

-Bright areas:  Make sure each area or department showcases what it is.  You can do this with signs, shelves, dividers, and spacing.  Make sure you have the bulk of a product together.  In other words, make sure a customer can walk in and clearly see where the cleaning attachments are.

-Transparent pricing- Make sure everything has a price.   It is not only helpful, but it is also the law.  You don’t want Weights & Measures coming in and giving you a hefty ticket.  People often don’t want to talk to us.  Rather than asking a price, they will just leave.

-Always merchandise your clearance nicely.  People do not actually enjoy digging through a bin.  Brightly colored signs or streamers help. Market this stock just as you do your regularly priced items.  Finally…sales and discounts. Let your vast deals scream…”BUY ME!”.  Not out loud…that would frighten people.  Use a sign.

Plan-o-grams offer spacing, representation, design.  They can also help you with ordering stock if you have a record. Nothing worse than seeing an empty peg hook and wondering what used to be there.

First In, First Out:  The FIFO law

-Rotate, rotate, rotate.  This not only keeps the older product moving first, but it also gives you the perfect opportunity to clean and face.

-Switch things up-  Simply change items around from time to time.  This can be one or two shelves just being switched to switching entire areas with each other.  Keep things fresh, and someone may see something that they never noticed before.  I have searched my whole life for you…sniff*.

Bragging Rights

Let people know that you are an expert, not just a salesperson.  Make your own wall of fame.

-Display licenses and all city/county requirements.

-Frame any certifications or training certificates.

-Post any awards or excellent customer reviews

-Hang up photos of your great projects or of you posing with your favorite customers.

Let people know that they can trust you.  If it’s on a must be true!

It’s a POOL STORE …Have fun!

-Hang some floats on the ceiling and place on the tops of shelves and bulk-stack tabs.

-Rock some Beach Boys or Jimmy Buffett…some fun music.  Set the mood!

– Have some interactive stuff.  Whether its a blown-up beach ball or a color change LED light display, have something people can get their hands on.

-Have themed dress days.  Wear Hawaiian shirts one Saturday.  Rock your fav sports jersey.  Wear green on St. Patty’s Day.  Not only does this cheer up your customers, but it boosts the morale of your employees.


Make sure your customers can see everything. It’s even better if they can touch everything.

-Put stuff that would appeal to kids lower where they can grab the item with one hand and Mommy’s skirt with the other.  Dress up a child’s size mannequin with a life vest and goggles holding a toy.

-Put stuff on tables (outside if your town allows).  Change the product regularly.

-POS items.  IMPULSE buys…yes, even a pool store has them. Place thermometers, goggles, or toys on the counter.  Place a weekly featured product and chat about it to all your guests.

-Don’t forget the water test station! I usually put a bottle of clarifier or enzyme here so I can explain its benefit while doing the test. Then you can just pick it up and walk it to the cash wrap.

Truly, one of the best and most definitive tactics to sell a product is to have it on the counter right next to the POS.  New products gain interest, older products get remembered and obscure products garner questions. They may not buy it the first time, but they remember the conversation and come back to look for it. Erin Thibodeau of Pace Pool & Spa

Merchandising a Pool Store, Courtesy of Mission Pool & Spa Supplies


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