Keeping Fans Moving
February 16, 2010 - 10:14am

When Georgia’s Southern Lighting Gallery decided to convert a dreary warehouse area into a hot spot for consumers shopping for ceiling fans, owner Brent Smith had a clear vision: “We decided to make it a destination.” So they raised the old ceiling 4 feet to 13 feet and built a framework that could support the 100-plus fan collection they installed soon after, putting a lot of consideration into the merchandising.

Fast forward five years, and the lively fan room is one of the coolest (pun intended) areas of the ARTS Award-winning showroom.

All of the ceiling fans, representing various vendors to offer customers plenty of choices, are hung from the ceiling and staggered at different heights. All are fully functioning with motors running and light kits turned on. “It’s really all in the merchandising,” says Smith. “You have to present it in a way that the consumer can envision it in their home.”

To guide customers through a sea of choices, Smith says it’s key to provide easy-to-understand information about each fan. Every model on display has a medallion tag that “tells a story” about the fan, from the maker to family name and blade pitch. “Essentially, those medallions become silent sellers,” Smith says.

Although the Texas-based Passion Lighting’s showroom spans an impressive 9,000 square feet, space is always at a premium, says owner Bruce Paul, CLC®. Hence, they also display their robust fan selection mostly by hanging them from the ceiling. On any given day, customers are greeted with 100 of the 175 fans typically in stock, representing eight manufacturers (including Monte Carlo Fan Co., pictured), all hanging demurely from the ceiling.

Instead of turning all the fans on, they reserve this privilege for the most unique products as a way to draw attention, Paul says. “We don’t believe [all the fans] have to run — with few exceptions. If the fan is really unique looking, we will run those and place them in a different part of the store away from the fan area,” he says. “When we turn a fan on and it is unique, it seems to at least double the sales.” The store does usually power up most of the light kits, since customers often ask to see the effects of the lights.

Fans are also cross-merchandised and placed throughout the showroom in themed areas, such as the Lake/Lodge area, to showcase how it looks in certain settings and set off other fixtures and accessories. All of the outdoor fans are shown in the separate outdoor area, a makeshift harbor.

Ceiling fans represent a major category for the retailer, and the thought that goes into the displays translates into not only greater fan sales, but an overall bottom-line boost. “We definitely see a lot of crossover [sales]. Having a good fan selection helps overall sales,” he adds.

A great selection of ceiling fans won’t amount to much if it’s not also backed up by a knowledgeable sales staff willing and eager to educate consumers about the different styles and functionality, says Smith.

The key to keeping customers coming back for more is a changing and up-to-date selection, well merchandised and creatively displayed. “Always refresh, refresh, refresh,” says Paul.

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