Took the kids to Florida. The pool was heated. Parker brought his swim fins. Ian's didn't fit.
No problem, we'll be in Florida on the ocean. We'll have no trouble finding Ian a new pair. Right?
A couple of stores that we thought might have fins failed to produce. Plenty of goggles and masks, but no fins. That's okay; we had an ace in the hole. A huge swimwear store was right up the road. We were sure they would have what we wanted.
According to the kid behind the counter, swim fins weren't due in for another week. "It wasn't season," he explained.
Being in the toy industry with both summer and winter items, I understand the concept of seasonal stock. I just don't buy into it. If you want to buy a sled from me in July, I can sell you a sled. I may not have the biggest selection, but I will have a sled.
My son, however, doesn't yet get this concept. Needless to say, he was heartbroken.
So ask yourself this... How many customers are you sending away heartbroken because you didn't have something in stock during what you consider to be off-season?
Perception is reality, and although you may think it is off-season, you never know when a customer might believe it is in-season. Is there a corner of your store that doesn't move much merchandise where you could put a small display of off-season stuff? Or a corner of your stock room?
Imagine Ian's reaction if the kid at the counter said, "Hold on," and ran into the stock room and produced a set of swim fins.
Heartbroken or Happy?
Which do you want your customers to be?
PS Six stores later we found some swim fins. SIX STORES LATER