Successful carts and kiosks stop traffic. That can be accomplished with unique products that passersby haven't seen anywhere else, or with items that add a new twist to enduring best selling concepts.
Novelty items that relate to local area sports teams certainly fall into the latter category. SC Sports, based in Lake Orion, MI, offers 140 different items, all tagged to licenses of Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Hockey League and all top college sports teams.
These collectibles, gifts and novelties are seasonless, notes Kevin Aldridge, VP of SC Sports. "Vendors feature items related to the area's favorite baseball teams in the spring, followed by college football and NFL teams, and then hockey," he explains.
New novelties are added all the time, so vendors can keep kiosks fresh and keep the same loyal sports fans coming back, season after season, year after year. While Aldridge says some vendors carry only SC Sports' hard goods with success, he says vendors most often combine these "hard" novelties with other "soft" licensed sports products, such as apparel, pennants and blankets or throws. "Then you've got it all," he points out. "The combination makes a big splash," and calls even more attention to the display. "Sports is the hottest thing in retail," he adds.
Among the best selling current novelty items from SC Sports are car window clings in the shape of a team's helmet and/or mascot, night lights, bottle cork sets featuring a helmet and ball with logo, paperweight, light up handheld fan, helmet pen, puppet and a super ball. Bounce the baseball super ball and it plays, "Take me out to the ball game." Bounce the football version, and it plays the theme music from Monday Night football.
Although SC Sports has 140 different designs, Aldridge recommends that kiosk and cart vendors carry only about six at a time. "If there are too many, people get confused and don't make a decision," he reasons. Furthermore, different novelties can replace items that sell out, giving people more reason to return to the vendor.
The company requires a $250 minimum order, and it can contain an assortment of products. "The typical wholesale price ranges between $5 and $6," he says, "Although we do have more expensive items, too." Among the more expensive items are mascot sleeping bags, inflatable goal posts and moveable lawn figures. Regardless of wholesale price, retail prices, Aldridge says, "are at least double the wholesale, plus 10 percent."
Enchanted World of Boxes in Cambridge, MA, has appeal to kiosk and cart vendors who take an entirely different tack. This company offers a series of unique products it has assembled under the "Enchanted" brand that began with decorative wooden boxes inspired by traditional Polish handcrafted boxes.
The company's husband and wife owners, Chris Kowalski and Teresa Witkowska, once imported the boxes, and eventually Witkowska began to design her own, based on contemporary American themes. These Enchanted Boxes come in more than 500 different designs, all brightly colored and decorated with wood burning, carving and brass inlay techniques.
The themes include zoo animals, Judaic symbols, butterflies, fairies, and new age symbols, Kowalski says. "Many have secret openings, and we have developed six different mechanisms." They wholesale for $3 to $25, and like all Enchanted products, carry a suggested retail of about double wholesale cost, plus five percent. The average wholesale price for all Enchanted products is $8 to $12.
The team has since added a line of Enchanted Cats, which are wooden painted images that Kowalski says are inspired by the artist, Joan Miró. These whimsical figures are about 13 inches tall. There are currently five different cat designs in the collection, and one elephant. More animals are being added.
There are now six different designs of Enchanted Mirrors. The mirrors are surrounded by ornate metal work. "They are 12 inches square," Kowalski says, "and can be incorporated into tile work in a kitchen or bath. They can also be used alone, and wholesale for $15."
Bendable Enchanted Fairies have also joined the brand. They are whimsical figures made of fabric and material used for dried flowers. They stand 14 to 15 inches long, can be posed into sitting positions on a shelf or window ledge, and their posture can be changed. The wholesale price of Enchanted Fairies is $5 to $7, with most falling at the lower end of the spectrum. There are 16 different designs.
Enchanted Book Boxes are the newest addition to the line. They come in sets of two, with one fitting inside the other. They have a wooden frame covered with imitation leather, and are ornately decorated to look like medieval books with embossing, gilding and painting. There are 27 different designs, and all have a magnetic clasp closure. The wholesale price for the set is $27.
Kowalski suggests that kiosk vendors invest between $500 and $1,000 in opening Enchanted World of Boxes product. "That provides enough variety and makes for visual impact," he says. The company calls for a $150 minimum, "to try them out," he says, and he'll prepare a $150 minimum order of best selling boxes, tailored to different markets and parts of the country.
"In Utah, for example, South American themes do best," he says. "While on Long Island, Judaica themed boxes do especially well." He advises vendors to, "create towers of boxes for maximum visual impact," and that kiosks and carts change the assortment of designs for every season. "Valentine's Day is our second best selling holiday next to Christmas," he reports. "Mother's Day is also a peak period."
While many kiosks carry only products from Enchanted World of Boxes, it is not a requirement. Kowalski says these products do well with the comfort pillows that have herbs for healing. They are also compatible with other home décor products. A 24 page color catalog is free to retailers. The company also has a wholesale only website that shows all the enchanted brand products. First time buyers get a 10 percent discount if they order online.
As different as these suppliers and their product lines are, they have several critical features in common that help cart and kiosk vendors succeed. Their products have high impulse appeal and grab the attention of busy passersby. Both companies have a wide variety of products that allows vendors to continually update their merchandise mix, in order to gain repeat business.
Both also help vendors tailor a mix that will appeal to different markets, price points and geographic locations. The products themselves provide ample margins of profit, and the products have year round appeal, whether they stand alone or are combined with other compatible items.
The following were interviewed for this article:
Kevin Aldridge, Vice President
2369 Joselyn, Ct.
Lake Orion, MI 48360
Toll Free: 800-259-6785
Chris Kowalski, co-owner
Enchanted World of Boxes
445 Concord Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Toll Free: 888-245-3233
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