Retail Therapy




Three-13 Salon, Spa & Boutique's retail strategy involves product focus—and a little friendly competition.

When Three-13 Salon, Spa & Boutique first opened its doors 35 years ago in Atlanta, it had a very simple retail strategy: Focus on selling only one product line at a time. "We would put the product line in all the shampoo bowls, we would put it in the stylists' hands, and we would all talk the same talk," says co-founder Lester Crowell.

More than three decades later, Crowell has evolved his retail strategy to meet the ever-changing needs of his clients, who, he's discovered, continually want to try new products.

 Three-13 Salon, Spa & Boutique celebrated its 35th anniversary with a special retail promotion.(ILLUSTRATION: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM (RETAIL THERAPY))
Three-13 Salon, Spa & Boutique celebrated its 35th anniversary with a special retail promotion.(ILLUSTRATION: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM (RETAIL THERAPY))

"Now we pick up a new line and keep the old line for the people loyal to it," Crowell says. Three-13 currently carries about 18 lines, each with its own loyal customers and stylists.

Crowell uses several strategies to get the entire staff involved in the salon's retail sales. One is offering commission on a sliding scale that starts at 9 percent and goes up to 15 percent. Three-13 also holds in-house competitions to drive retail sales. "We've had many different types of contests," Crowell says. "We've done shopping sprees and given away TVs and cash. We keep trying to change it up."

Crowell recommends coming up with rewards that are agreeable to all of the staff and letting them decide which product they want to concentrate on. Three-13's current contest rewards staff members with money for monthly team outings like dinners or day trips. "We have this system where staff members get points for selling products," Crowell says. "They have a goal to get 50 points per week, and if they make the weekly goal, they get $25 toward their monthly outing."

The salon's huge 2,200-square-foot retail area features display tables and a rolling shelving system. "Putting the products on tables is so important," Crowell says. "It gives people the chance to touch the products, pick them up and really see them." To maintain the customers' interest in buying retail, Crowell says the staff is constantly moving and changing the displays, restocking the shelves with products, introducing fresh promotions and debuting new product lines.

Three-13 also motivates clients to buy retail through regular promotions, typically offering a 14-percent discount to clients purchasing three products or more. But since this year marks the 35th year anniversary of the salon's opening, Three-13 ran a sale from March 13 ("3/13") through the end of June that gave clients a 20-percent discount when they bought any three products.

Despite the downturn of the economy, Crowell says his retail sales haven't decreased since last year. "It's really so easy," Crowell says. "People think they have to be salespeople to sell these products, but they don't. All they really have to do is talk to the clients about the products they're using." —R.A.

The National Cosmetology Association (NCA) has launched an aggressive campaign to help salons increase retail sales by $50 per day. That's a $600 million infusion of cash into salons in 2009 if just 25 percent of the 50,000 salons in the United States participate. Visit for more information.