This Episode: What Are People Really Buying?


Learn the common-sense secret that successfully sold over 3 MILLION dollars of yo-yos and can be used easily in any retail business, plus more retail tips in this episode of Real Retail TV!

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Hey, it’s Bob Negen, and this is another episode of Real Retail TV. Today I’m going to share with you the secret that I learned to sell over 3 million dollars worth of yo-yo and yo-yo accessories. Yes, yo-yos.

So back in the late 80s, I was the moderator for the Retailer Idea Exchange at the Kite Trade Association. The Kite Trade Association was our retail trade group, and this idea exchange is where we would talk about what’s working, and what was hot, what was not, and you know, it was an idea exchange. And so we’re going through this session and my friend Alan Nagao, the owner of performance kites in Honolulu, Hawaii raised his hand, I called on him:

“Alan, what do you have to say?”

And so Alan stands up and he throws down a yo-yo and he throws it down hard so it’s sleeping and it’s sitting there at the bottom of the string, and he says “I sold $30,000 worth of yo-yos last year.” And so my immediate reaction was; “everybody shut up! Let’s hear what Alan did!”. And Alan shared his process that he was creating to create yo-yo booms. He didn’t just go in and sell yo-yos, he created booms where all the kids were unbelievably excited. You know there was this rabid group of yo-yo players in any of the towns where Alan would create a boom. And so, we took that back here to Grand Haven with the intention of starting our own yo-yo booms.

So here’s essentially what we did: we had a full-time yo-yo professional and he would go into the schools and do a program. And so the program was a combination of music, really cool yo-yo- tricks, my father – who was a retired preacher – created a motivational message “dream, dare, do” that was woven through the entire program, and we gave every kid a $1 coupon, a gift certificate, to bring into the store to help them buy a yo-yo.

This worked like a charm! The kids came in in droves, I mean it worked exactly like Alan said, but then when they came in we needed to do everything right for the process to work. And so the first thing we needed to do was we needed to sell them the correct bundle, the bundle that would help them be successful. We sold them the right yo-yo, the easiest yo-yo to learn with. We cut the string so that it was the right length so if a young child, a small child, threw the yo-yo down, it didn’t hit the ground and break. We sold them extra string so that when a string broke they could keep playing, replace the string, keep playing. We sold them a trick book so that they could remain challenged and keep their heads in that game. So the correct bundle, the beginner’s bundle, the brain bundle at $19.99 was part of the process.

But then we also got them into our Pro Spinners Club, and the Pro Spinners Club happened twice a week and ended going up to five days a week. But kids would come into the store and they would show other kids who had demonstrated proficiency, that they knew certain tricks. So what were they doing? They were moving up levels, and as they moved up levels, they won prizes. So we had this whole infrastructure built around success.

So what’s the secret that I promised to share with you? So the secret is we weren’t selling yo-yos, we were creating yo-yo players. And we created yo-yo players by helping them become successful. By making it fun. By allowing them to have a lot of pride. Now here’s the other thing about creating a yo-yo player; they don’t just have one yo-yo, they soon have collections of yo-yos, and not the inexpensive yo-yos, the expensive, high-performance yo-yos! In the Easter of 1998 in April, we sold 200 units of a $100 yo-yo. I know, you think about that, a $100 yo-yo! We couldn’t keep them in stock. 


Because these kids had become so good, they wanted the best yo-yos.

So here’s what I want to suggest, and here’s how it applies to you. So unless you’re selling the least expensive, the cheapest products in your category, your customer is not buying your products. They are buying a feeling that your product gives. Let me give you an example. Let’s just assume that you have a women’s clothing store. You’re not selling a dress, you’re selling how that dress makes them feel. Someone can buy a dress from Goodwill. Someone can buy an inexpensive dress from TJ Maxx or from Walmart. If they’re coming into your store, if you’re an independent if you’re watching this, they’re coming in to look good! They want to feel a particular way when they’re in that dress. They want to feel confident if they’re going into a job interview. They want to feel sexy if they’re going out on a date. They want to feel comfortable if they’re hanging around on a Saturday. The point is, is there are emotions involved with what you’re selling. 

And that’s the lesson I wanted to share with you, that yes you sell products, but just as importantly you are selling the emotions that those products create. Understand that simple truth, and you will be so much more effective on the floor. Teach this to your team, and they will be so much more effective on the floor. Your customers will have a better experience, your team will have a lot more fun, your customers will be more loyal, and you’ll make a lot more money.

So your action item for today is: have this conversation with your team. spend some time walking around your store. Ask your team; get them mentally and emotionally engaged with the question: “what are people really buying when they’re buying this thing from us?”

If you like the idea of your team giving your customers an amazing experience every time, I would encourage you to go to RetailSalesAcademy.com. Retail Sales Academy is the best platform training program for independent retailers who want their customers to have that kind of experience. No other training program focuses on the customer and their experience and giving that customer the kind of experience that brings them in again, and again, and again, and again, and again like the Retail Sales Academy. So if you are a progressive, growth-minded independent retailer, you owe it to yourself to check out the Retail Sales Academy.

So having said all of that, I hope you enjoyed this episode of Real Retail TV and we’ll see you next time!

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