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Building on last month’s coverage of store layouts and marketing ideas, this column

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will highlight several products that can enhance any retail store and offer your customers an appealing environment that not only looks great, but is highly functional, as well.

Special events are a great way to generate some buzz, get your name out, show your capabilities and bring new customers into the store. But you can’t have a special event every day.

Exciting in-store displays, however, are the next best thing. And if particularly well-done, they can become a significant reason you attract new customers and build stronger relationships with existing customers.

Using the resources of the SEMA membership Web site, I have found several companies that offer products to help you merchandise and promote the performance products you sell.

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Naython’s Display Fixtures in Philadelphia has an assortment of hooks for tires and wheels that hang on gridwall or slatwall.

These cost only a few dollars each and allow the freedom of rearranging and changing design, whereas a hook bolted to a stud isn’t easily moved and has limited placement on a wall.

They offer other racks, as well. Mike Staples, owner of Naython’s, says that the mobile rack is one of their most versatile automotive display items. It can be used for wheels, as pictured here, or you can add shelves and even hooks to display other accessories. Naython’s offers almost any type of fixture, as well as clothing and custom designs, to fit your specific needs.

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Staples has partnered with Keystone Automotive in Exeter, Pa., to create a very awe-inspiring store, both online and in-person. Keystone has built a "store" within its headquarters. Known as the TMT (Training, Merchandising, Technology) Center, Michael Sanfilippo, sales promotion coordinator, is in charge of maintaining the products that are displayed. He tells me that he updates and changes displays at the TMT Center on a frequent basis.

If you are thinking about increasing your business and aren’t sure where to start, give Sanfilippo a call. Keystone offers a wide range of services, from developing specialty catalogs to retail and wholesale programs. Keystone also provides B2B Internet business solutions, which can be accessed at www.ekeystone.com.

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While there, check out the 360º view of the store. This is the ultimate in virtual walkthrough technology. Every square inch is captured on video, and you can look in any direction or zoom in on a specific area.

Next, I talked to Steve Alexander of Automotive In-Store Marketing. Steve’s company is deeply involved in developing store plan-o-grams, designing merchandising displays, and creating marketing products, from the manufacturing level all the way to retail. AIM is responsible for the design and layouts that you see in large retail chains, as well as "mom-and-pop" single stores.

AIM’s services include training, merchandising, graphic design and complete installation. The company also does research to show you which products will generate the most profit and how to place them in a high traffic flow area.

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Their display for NASCAR-licensed products is just one of hundreds that were created by AIM. The design team can work with you to develop a theme that will enhance the presentation of the products you sell, which, in turn, leads to more sales and an increased customer count. If you need just a little help, or a complete store upgrade, Automotive In-Store Marketing can walk you through the process.

For those of you who have expensive custom wheels sitting on cheap cube racks, AutoWare Technologies has a new wheel display fixture that can be personalized with your store’s name and logo.

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Newly developed, the display is a radical concept that allows you to mount wheels on three shafts that protrude through the cabinet. An internal gear drive motor turns the wheels at 12 rpm, much the same as a kinetic art display.

Named the Lay Z for its shape, it is designed to hold 28-inch wheels on the lower shaft, 26-inch wheels on the middle and 24-inch wheels on the top. This will impress anyone who enters your store. Bolt on a constant motion spinner, hit the spotlights at night, and wait for the phone to ring.

The displays are built to order with a matte black finish. Custom colors can be added, or you can purchase the display with an unfinished cabinet so that you can design and paint and add your own graphic or logo to match the rest of your store. Also, the display doubles as a kiosk for AutoWare Technologies’ SoftWheels and TreadWare computer vehicle customization programs.

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A flat-screen monitor, mouse and printer sit on shelves that simply attach to the front. The CPU and keyboard stay locked up inside the cabinet where they are secure.

Now that you have an idea about how to display accessories, tires and wheels, how about that floor? Do you find it nearly impossible to keep your floor clean, especially in areas near the service bays? Well, RaceDeck may be what you need.

Manufactured by Snap Lock Industries Inc. in Salt Lake City, this could be the answer that you’ve been looking for. Jennifer Storms, East Coast sales rep for Snap Lock, says, "The patented design of our 12x12x1/2-inch interlocking modules provides a high-tech look of diamond plate without the weight or expense. It’s versatile, comes in eight colors, and is compatible with other Snap Lock flooring products.

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"Because it snaps together, it is less labor-intensive to assemble. Also, it’s virtually maintenance free. It’s not affected by oil, grease, chemicals or petroleum products, and has a rolling load capacity of 25,000 pounds."

RaceDeck works great for showrooms, trade show booths, garages or in small areas as a backdrop to showcase a product or vehicle.

If you are interested in finding out more, contact one of our sources or log onto www.sema.org and search for display fixtures.

If you have a sharp showroom design that you’re proud of, take some picture and send them in. We’ll try to let others see your hard work

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