Selling retail items as part of your yoga studio or gym’s offerings is a smart and fun way to boost revenue – and market your brand while generating loyalty and community. There’s a strategy to buying and pricing that will maximize sales and reduce your risk of having shelves full of stuff that no one wants to buy.
Here are a few helpful tips for getting started and for growing your sales.
If your budget is small or you’re just dipping a toe into selling products outside of class, props and accessories are a fairly sure bet. Start by identifying the things your regular students bring to class. They’ll eventually need to replace (or want to upgrade) those things. For example, just about everyone working out -- whether it’s a power yoga class, Zumba routine, Crossfit session, or hip-hop dance experience -- will be super thirsty and want to hydrate.
If your location has room for a refrigerator (you can buy affordable dorm-style fridges at your local discount store), selling bottled water is a no-brainer. The mark-up is high, and lots of students forget to bring their own bottles. Drop-in clients who are travelling rarely have them.
Another great option is to put your fitness business’s logo on water bottles. There’s a range of options for all price points, from simple plastic bottles to thermos-type bottles like HydroFlask. Any local print shop that specializes in branded merchandise will be able to emboss them with your brand. HydroFlask also offers the option to create your own color combination to customize the look to fit your style.
If you own or teach at a yoga studio, stocking your boutique with a colorful display of yoga mats, straps, yoga towels and headbands can make it super convenient for students. They offer an impulse buy for customers who don’t want to shop online and wait for delivery. If your market has few yoga retailers, this will be an offering your community is grateful for. Students get really excited to see each new season’s colors and upgraded technology. Consider having your yoga towels branded with your logo.
If your budget is smaller, you can always use a wholesale account to order studio-specific mats that you can rent out to visitors and customers who forget their own. Manduka, for example, offers a line called Studio Gear. Simply having these items on display can really up-level the professionalism and look and feel of your studio space.
For gyms, martial arts or dance studios, small-sized personal hand towels for wiping sweat can be super popular, and again, you can brand them with your logo. You can sell them, rent them, or offer them as a complimentary “perk.”
Offering branded retail can really build on a growing sense of community at a small studio or gym. As your students take classes around town, they become walking billboards for your brand, and seeing others with your logo on their shirts, pants or water bottles enhances their sense of pride and tribe.
So let’s talk about clothing. As a beginner in the boutique space, it’s best to order small batches at wholesale and have them printed by a local shop. If money is tight, you can design your own branded designs and fun sayings and send the files to the printer. Easy to do options include tank tops with your logo on the back, and an inspirational saying on the front. You can also brand pants with a logo that runs down the leg, or shorts with a small logo on one of the legs.
Consider offering a blend of performance wear for in class, with some “acti-leisure” options like long-sleeve fashion shirts or hoodies for street wear.
A good rule of thumb is to choose two to three fun tanks, and one street wear item, plus one pant for women, and a shorts design for men. Women tend to shop more than men, so factor that in as well. For each style choose one to colors. For sizing, order more of the common sizes and less of the extra smalls and extra larges. The amount you order per style will depend on your community’s size.
It’s a little trickier to offer non-branded clothing. Typically, the price point is much higher, and with the abundance of online stores, it can be tough to compete. The key is your location. If you’re in a larger city with a lot of fitness boutique shops and general sports stores, it can be challenging to compete with the variety and pricing of these businesses that can order in bulk, and with national discounts. If you’re in a smaller market, where your students don’t have many shop-in-person items, however, you might just bring in new business as shoppers seek your boutique out.
Either way, encourage your staff (including you!) to wear all the new designs when you teach, and are out and about. Your students who love you, will want to imitate you, and when they see how great the new items look on you and your team, they’re bound to want that new item!
Whether you’re offering branded or non-branded merchandise (or both), how much you order and how long you keep in on display can make or break the success of your retail shop.
One trick of the trade is to not have too much of any one item for sale and to not offer it for long. You want to generate excitement and anticipation by having small batches of your clothing designs put out, and then selling out, rather than one big order that sits around for months and gets sold on super sale. This way, each time you restock, there will be a buzz and rush to get that new tank or hat before it’s gone. Creating FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) helps turn the buzz into dollars.
Another great way to community-build and create that “must-have” mentality among your customers, is to create special event items. For example, if you have a fitness challenge, special bootcamp, fundraising event or training, consider offering shirts with the event name and your brand on them to participants. You also raise money by selling the shirts and giving a percentage of sales to the charity that your event is benefiting.
One of the biggest mistakes small fitness business owners make is getting too excited about creating their boutique, and ordering way too much. Start with a mix of items in smaller batches. Order the items you know your clients will inevitably need, like water bottles and towels. Add in one branded shirt in one or two colors for both men and women, and see how sales go. Take the profits from those efforts and consider investing them in a slightly larger order next time, with more styles and colors.
Square is a super popular solution for collecting payment when your customers are there and ready to buy. If you use Punchpass as your hub for tracking passes & attendance, Square works well as a supplement -- especially since your can integrate Punchpass with Square for selling your passes at the point of sale.
Have fun with your retail designs. Take lots of pictures of you, your team and your regulars high-fiving while wearing your brand. Share the love on social media, and watch the love grow!