Ft. Wayne, IN households will don just over 250,000 Christmas stockings this year, according to the U. Census Bureau. Those stockings are the direct concern of Brian Ellis, owner of Fort Wayne, IN-based Darlington Holiday Warehouse, who with the help of a digital sign manufactured by Watchfire Signs of Danville, IL, and installed by Creative Sign Resources, has increased his store traffic by nearly seven percent this year.
Darlington Holiday Warehouse is a 30,000 sq. ft. Christmas emporium that offers thousands of holiday gifts, 90 percent of which are priced at $1.59. Ellis believes a low price point and an active advertising and promotion calendar are his key ingredients for success. Despite engaging in an aggressive print and radio advertising schedule and building an active social media presence, it was the installation of a digital sign that helped Darlington Holiday Warehouse overcome its biggest obstacle: its location.
“Although we’re on a high traffic road, we’re not in a typical retail area,” said Ellis. “We had to find a way to let passing drivers know we are here.” One year ago, he decided to contact local sign dealer Creative Sign Resources for help.
Creative Sign Resources owner Matt Schlau described Ellis’ request in two words: big and bold. “To make Darlington Holiday Warehouse’s promotion strategy work, they needed a sign that could show customers what’s new on any given day. A Watchfire LED sign made the most sense for them. With Watchfire’s high level of quality and terrific customer service, they were easy to recommend.”
Darlington Holiday Warehouse’s business is promotion-driven. According to Ellis, the company brings out 50 to 100 new inventory items weekly, and sometimes daily. An electronic sign allows Ellis to tailor his advertising to the store inventory. “In the morning we have a meeting and ask: What are we heavy on? What new deals can we offer? And that’s what we’ll promote on the sign,” he said.
Watchfire LED signs come with easy-to-use Ignite® Graphics Software, which Ellis’ marketing staff has used to draw attention with advertising that is humorous and off-beat. “We believe that the holiday shopping experience should be fun, so we put a little something silly into everything we do, whether that’s a newspaper ad or our messaging on our sign,” Ellis said.
While Darlington Holiday Warehouse is open long hours between Halloween and Christmas, it closes for the remainder of the year so that Ellis and his staff can search for next year’s must-have gifts. But their Watchfire LED sign keeps working by featuring funny messages that keep customers engaged. Beginning 45 days before opening in October, Darlington Holiday Warehouse uses the sign to post a countdown to get people excited for the opening of the store.
By far the biggest benefit of his LED sign investment has to be the results. “When you sell millions of products, a bump of six to seven percent is significant, especially for a business that’s only open 10 weeks out of the year,” said Ellis. “When we invested in something this significant, we wanted a clear return. We couldn’t be happier.”