Diverse products and categories can fill the bill for kiosk and cart vendors, as long as the items grab shoppers' attention. Two companies with products that could hardly be farther apart highlight the diverse possibilities. These companies' product offerings lite up the radar screen for very different reasons, and the profiles of both businesses rose, following adversity. Each company touches a personal chord with its particular and large market niche.
Limited Edition of Novato, CA makes and sells patriotic apparel and other printed products. "Patriotism was always a popular apparel theme around the summer holidays," says Charles Ansanelli, owner. "But since 9/11, it has become much less seasonal and a good deal more popular," he adds.
Valor System in Belleville, MI makes a tiny Personal Tracking Unit and two versions of, "Trackstick," a small device that tracks and logs the moves of hikers, mountain climbers, vehicles and others, and then downloads the information on a Google map. The Personal Tracking Unit is especially in demand by the loved ones of small children and older people, reports Jeff Stoker, CEO. "It is a real time tracking unit that utilizes GPS (global positioning satellite) technology to locate lost people and let the police, care givers and loved ones know where to find them." It contains a variety of useful safety features, including an SOS button that sends a text message to programmed phone numbers if a child is in a panic situation, such as being confronted by an unwelcome stranger. A "geo fence" can also be programmed into the device to let someone know if a child has left school, for example, or an Alzheimer patient has left home or a care facility.
Trackstick II and Super Trackstick were initially created to allow businesses to track vehicles, but can also be used to collect data from a kid's car, for example, or someone who has gone fishing or hiking or elsewhere. Super Trackstick is a premium version of Trackstick II. The latter has two mgs of memory, and the former has double that capacity. These operate on two AAA batteries and measure about 4.5 inches by 1.25 inches, are less than one inch thick, and easy to carry in a pocket, backpack or glove compartment. It logs data during movement.
When the person with the device returns, the device plugs into a USB port on a personal computer and downloads to a Google map, "which shows precisely the route taken," Stoker says.
The minimum order for each is five units. The wholesale price of Trackstick II is $130, and the suggested retail price is $159. For the Super Trackstick, the wholesale on the minimum order is $199, and suggested retail is $269.
Batteries are included, and they can be replaced as needed. "It's hard to demonstrate Trackstick," Stoker acknowledges. He offers brochures and pass out literature to kiosk vendors. He also suggests that kiosk vendors, "Use a laptop to display data, in order to illustrate how the data shows up on a Google map. This attracts shoppers' attention," he notes.
The Personal Tracking Unit (PTU) is more comprehensive and sophisticated, and in increasing demand, according to Stoker. It is easy to demonstrate at a kiosk and cart, and its benefits are immediately understandable, especially, to a parent at a large shopping mall. "It is 3.5 inches by 1.5 inches, the size of a credit card," Stoker says, "so it fits in a purse, pocket or backpack. It also can be fitted on a belt holster or on a lanyard, so it's within easy reach around the wearer's neck."
It can be programmed with two speed dial numbers, such as a home phone, cell phone and/or police department, which is done online through a password protected, user friendly web channel, which has detailed maps to pinpoint the wearer's location at the click of a button. In auto track mode, it allows the user to track the device's location at user defined intervals. The PTU is also equipped to receive calls from any number.
The SOS feature, which Stoker also describes as a panic button, sends an immediate alert and the wearer's location to the programmed contacts. It operates on a lithium battery, which is included. There is a low battery indicator. The device comes with a charger, and it takes just four hours to fully restore capacity. Valor System provides vendors with a quantity of six panel brochures that fully describe the PTU's features and benefits.
The minimum order is five units, "So vendors can try it before making a more substantial investment," Stoker says. PTU wholesales for $279, and suggested retail is $349. Its use also requires a monthly monitoring plan, "Because it relies on cell towers to transmit the data to the servers, so information can be displayed on the consumer's computer or cell phone," Stoker explains.
There are three plans, all of which include unlimited access to the user's personal online account. The levels cost $19.95, $29.95 and $39.95 a month, to cover monthly usage of 75, 150, and 250 units. "The monthly plan for the Personal Tracking Unit is paid directly to Valor System," Stoker says. "Based on volume, there is a residual paid out to the kiosk vendor of up to $3 per month," he adds. While the primary market for PTUs is for children and the aged, Stoker notes that it can also be used on pets. "It can also be placed in cars, boats, motorcycles and other vehicles or expensive items, to track them in the event they get stolen."
Limited Edition secured slides of vintage World War I and II posters from the archives in Washington DC for its vintage/nostalgia collection. For the company's apparel lines, Ansanelli says, "The images are sublimated, or infused into the fabric. This is superior to screen printing," he says, "because it literally becomes one with the fabric and is more vibrant and longer lasting."
The vintage/nostalgia group is one of more than a dozen themes offered by Limited Edition and among its most popular. This group includes poster images of, "Rosie the Riveter," "Victory," "Independence," and, "Red Dog." All are offered on eight different products, from magnets and mugs to caps and long sleeve tops and polo shirts. "Showing them as a group reinforces the presentation," he says, "and also gives the customer a choice of variations in price points."
Using some of the eight products carrying the Rosie the Riveter image as an example, Ansanelli notes that the magnet wholesales for $1.40 and has a suggested retail price of $2.99. The mug wholesales for $6 and calls for a retail of about $11.95. There are also hats, aprons, pillows and two shirt versions. The hats wholesale for $11 and have a suggested retail of $19 to $22.95, while missy tops are at the other end of the price spectrum. They wholesale for $22 and have a suggested retail of $44.95. "The apparel is fully printed front and back," Ansanelli points out.
Stars and Stripes, another popular theme, has very traditional patriotic images, also offered on a range of products. "The number one item in this theme," he says, "is the unisex polo shirt. This theme is particularly popular for Father's Day," he adds.
A bomber jacket stands at the top of the Stars and Stripes line. "We started with a flag jacket," he says, "and it took off immediately with celebrities and others. We saw it everywhere during the recent inauguration," he reports. "And it is often seen in celebrity photos. The flag never goes out of style," Ansanelli says, and Limited Edition's Old Glory theme proves the point. "It is seasonless."
"It's important for vendors to set themes in sections," he advises. "Group all the products in one theme together; make a separation, and then group all the products of another theme together. This way they support each other, but do not compete with each other."
He suggests a minimum investment of $900, "Which gives them a position in the themes they want." Limited Edition provides complimentary Uncle Sam posters with the familiar line, 'Uncle Sam Wants You.' "It calls attention to the kiosk and serves as an entry point for all of the themes," he says. He also encourages vendors to use barnwood and some antique references to complement the themes. "Crates and wooden ladders work well," Ansanelli adds.
While Limited Edition's products can fill a kiosk and lead to success, that is not required. The perfect companion products are flags, he says, and other flag related products.
The following people at these companies were interviewed for this article:
Charles Ansanelli, president
176 Wild Horse Valley Drive
Novato, CA 94947
Toll Free: 800-955-2456
Jeff Stoker, CEO
443 Waterbury Court
Belleville, MI 48111
Toll Free: 888-286-9829
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