Home > Uncategorized > An Alternative to Closing: Shutting Down Individual Departments

An Alternative to Closing: Shutting Down Individual Departments

Most of what’s currently written about store survival seems to take an ‘all or nothing’ approach to facing the future. Today I want to offer an alternative scenario: Discontinuing select departments in the store.

The reasons for doing this might include one or several of the following:

  • Merchandise offers lowest margin
  • Merchandise management is labour-intensive
  • Turnover/sales on these products is poor

You want to get the most use out of the shelf-space and floor-space you have. Over the years we’ve second guessed everything at times: Greeting cards, bulletins, music, etc. In our book department we’ve made many changes that involved rotating merchandise off the sales floor, but we’re looking at doing these as individual department liquidations in the future. Here are some examples:

  • We’ve removed our Prophecy section twice in our history. Right now, what we have is more of a Middle East Interest section.
  • We removed and then brought back our Health section, but it’s not performing and like prophecy, some of the titles get outdated rather quickly. I see this more as fad that bookstores went through many years ago that we’ve allowed to linger too long.
  • We pulled our biography section a year ago when customers lacked interest. It took up four, four-foot shelves. We brought it back a few months ago with only the strongest stock on two shelves and the response has been much better.
  • We had a section of Bible Study books called “Ready to Go.” The idea was that we would mass-display our full inventory on this product so customers could see we had ten of this booklet and eight of that one, and if they wanted to start a small group in their kitchen the next day, there was no need to wait for an order to arrive. Some people liked the idea, but recently we decided to make better use of those shelves for something else. The books are currently still on the sales floor in two stacks at the end of a fixture.
  • We’re currently considering doing something drastic in our children’s paperback fiction area. People aren’t buying; it’s easier to give the kids a DVD. This one is more ideological, so we’re not moving quickly on this; the end of July at the earliest.

This time around, we’re going to announce the closing of some of these departments more clearly and with deeper discounts. Of course, we can still take orders on those categories.

What do you think? Would something like this work for you?

  1. June 6, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I love these ideas Paul, we need to be constantly evaluating what is working and what is not. And like you said we can always change it back, and of course special order. Its amazing how much dead stock we have in various categories- A certain category can appear to be doing well but it may be carried by a couple of best sellers, and the rest is tying up shelf space and dollars. Keep the good ideas coming- sure appreciate the good reminders. Doing a 42nd anniversary sale starting June 18. Lando

  2. June 17, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    We do this all the time. We probably don’t go 4 weeks without closing down or opening up a new section. Maybe I just can’t sit still…

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