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Kiosks Combine Novelty & Utility

Feb 1, 2009

When a kiosk or cart vendor can obtain a line of merchandise or configure a mix of products that combine both novelty appeal and usefulness, he enhances the ability to succeed. Newness always attracts attention, which is critical to making busy shoppers stop for a look. When something also seems to suit a need or provide a solution to a common problem, it helps close the sale.

Suppliers of very diverse product lines prove the point. One has items that appeal to the handyman in all of us, including women. The other warms heads with beanies that carry humorous, even somewhat provocative, sayings and art.

A handy, all in one multibit screwdriver heads the product roster from FireHawk Technology in Key West, FL. Called the Picquic, it comes in a choice of seven different models. All share a similar design that incorporates seven bits in a single handle, providing the user with the equivalent of seven different screwdrivers in a single unit. The seven different bits are visible through the clear handle, so the user can easily identify the one needed for a particular task. Simply by turning the handle, the user can select the proper one for the job, and also change bits easily to accommodate different needs.

Picquic is made in Canada and carries a lifetime guarantee. Of the seven models, three are the most popular, according to Les Moyer, FireHawk Technology's owner. The most common is Six Pac Plus, a standard looking screwdriver that is 8.3/8 inches long. Its bits include several sizes of slotted, Phillips head and torque units. The bits with this model are three inches long, and as with others in the series, can also be used with a power driver. It wholesales for $6.87 and has a suggested retail price of $11.45, and is supplied in a box of 12 units or a display tray of 12 units.

The Teeny Turner, also very popular, is designed for use with eyeglasses, small toys and computers and other small electronics. Like its larger counterpart, it contains seven bits, including Phillips, torque and flat. The unit is just 2.5 inches long. The wholesale cost is $3.42, and suggested retail is $5.70. This is offered individually carded or in a cookie jar displayer that contains 36 units.

Stubby, true to its name, is 3.5 inches long, and in addition to the selection of types of bits in the other units, it has a one quarter hex bit. This comes 12 to a case or 12 to a cookie jar display. The wholesale is $5.82, and suggested retail is $9.70. The length of Multique is in between the standard Six Pac Plus and the Stubby. It wholesales for $5.67 and has a suggested retail of $9.45.

Super 8 Plus is the same size of Six Pac Plus, but in addition to the seven bits, it also contains two nut drivers and they are reversible, built into the shaft, so it can tighten or loosen nuts. The wholesale is $9.96, and suggested retail is $16.60. HVAC Screwdriver is identical to the Super 8 Plus, but also includes a specialty bit for use on heating, venting and air conditioning units. It wholesales for $10.56 and has a suggested retail price of $17.60.

The Mariner, as its name suggests, is especially designed for a marine environment. It is the same configuration as the Six Pac Plus, but has the added benefit of being rust and corrosion proof. It comes individually carded. The wholesale is $11.88, and suggested retail is $19.80. There is actually a top selling eighth style, which Moyer says, "Is a mini screwdriver on a key ring that has two bits: a flat and a Phillips. It is designed primarily to fix eyeglasses and can be carried in a purse or pocket," he points out. It is packaged in a mini zip lock bag. The wholesale is $2.97, and the suggested retail is $4.95. All Picquic units come in a variety of colors.

In addition, FireHawk Technology has bits that allow units of Picquic to be customized. "We have a multiple of spare bits for people who might want an Allen bit, for example," Moyer says. "We advise our kiosk vendors to always put Picquic in the hand of a potential customer," he says. "Only then can the customer see both the simplicity and quality of the unit." The company website has a video of Picquic, showing its versatility and ease of use. Moyer says FireHawk Technology will arrange, for a modest fee, to have a customized version of the video on a DVD for use on a continual loop.

There is no minimum order. "A kiosk can take units on a case by case basis," Moyer says. Picquic works well by itself in a kiosk or cart or paired with other multitools, such as the several multipliers that are on the market. "A Picquic and multiplier will fix 85 to 90 percent of anything that needs fixing," Moyer says. "And the two tools eliminate the need to go back to a toolbox for different tasks. As the economy remains slow, people are holding onto their cars, houses and household goods. These tools help them make things last," he points out.

In addition to Picquic, FireHawk Technology has another handy household product that can stand alone in a kiosk or complement Picquic. Called Ballistol, it is an all purpose lubricant that serves a multitude of purposes. "Unlike other lubricants," Moyer says, "Ballistol is biodegradable, has no harmful CFCs and doesn't dry out or get gummy." It can loosen stubborn locks, hinges and sliding doors and windows. It can also be used to treat leather and make it waterproof. It is a nontoxic bug killer and mosquito repellant that won't harm children or pets. "Mice like it," Moyer adds. "You can put a drop of it on a mouse trap, and the mouse is attracted to it even more than to cheese."

Ballistol comes in two sizes of aerosol units. One contains 1.5 ounces and is five inches tall. The minimum order is 24 units. The wholesale is $2.97, and the suggested retail is $4.95. A six ounce unit is eight inches tall and available in a case of 12. The wholesale is $4.50, and suggested retail is $7.50.

Now, on to warmth and whimsical adornment. Shady Ideas, started by Scott Merlino and his father, Thomas, and brother, Chris, in Oneonta, NY, supplies what he calls, "hats with attitude." They are acrylic beanies, currently offered in 50 different designs, with new ones coming online every week. "We expect to have 200 different designs by summer, and they will also be on baseball hats," he reports.

Many of the slogans are provocative, particularly popular near college and university campuses, according to Merlino, who tested them at a mall in his home town, which does have a college, and at another location on Long Island, NY. "Rehab is for Quitters," is one popular design. "Spoiled Rotten," and "Dude" are others, along with "Mean People Suck," "I Beat Anorexia," and "Tastes Like Chicken." All are taken from pop culture, according to Merlino.

The minimum order is a half dozen of each style, and they wholesale for $45 a dozen. The beanies are tagged with a suggested retail price of $14.95. Shady Ideas can fulfill orders within two days at the most. "In order to market them effectively, the vendor needs to have a wide selection, because it's the whole selection that creates a buzz," Merlino says. "We suggest using a grid display on which each different design overlaps another. We can provide a grid wall," he adds.

It consists of 14 inch grid squares, and he suggested putting a large display on one side of the cart or kiosk and placing other units up both corner posts. "That way, the display can be seen from any direction," he notes.

Shady Ideas offers a package program beginning at $2,500, which includes signage and display grids, custom configured to fit a vendor's particular space, along with the full line of designs. While these do work alone, they can also be paired with baseball hats and/or with other novelty apparel, such as T-shirts and sweats.

The company will also provide custom designs for its vendors and for their customers, such as local school groups. In the latter case, Merlino notes, "The vendor can take half of the cost of the full order from his customer, and that will cover the entire cost, so the vendor has nothing to invest." The minimum order for a custom design is three dozen units, and the total wholesale price is $135. The return, Merlino suggests, "Ranges from $250 to $300 or more."

Hats off to handy and to innovation: two keys to successful kiosk and cart sales.

The following people at these companies were interviewed for this story:

Les Moyer, owner
FireHawk Technology
P.O. Box 5886
Key West, FL 33045
Toll Free: 800-920-4295
Tel.: 305-396-6747
Fax: 305-295-2984

Scott Merlino, an owner
Shady Ideas
P.O. Box 686
Oneonta, NY 13820
Tel.: 607-433-2675

Topic: Kiosk Korner

Related Articles: kiosk 

Article ID: 915

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