blue bunny

When chocolate volcanos, psychedelic cereal sundaes and cold-brew donut shakes are offered as a job perk, who could resist? Such is the life of a visual merchandiser in the Ice Cream Capital of the World, Le Mars, Iowa.

Wells Enterprises, the largest family-owned and managed ice cream and frozen treat manufacturer in the United States, is headquartered in Le Mars. It has several brands, including Blue Bunny®. In 2019, the company was looking to expand their downtown Le Mars ice cream parlor into a visitor center and museum. Their general contractor selected Retailworks, Inc. to design an updated gift boutique and to develop branded product ideas for the Wells Visitor Center and Ice Cream Parlor. From working with small independent artisans to large corporate sellers, we were able to curate an expansive and unique collection of products, including ice cream bowls, original artisan cards, vintage branded tea, towels, custom spoons and scoops, t-shirts and dog bowls.

Additionally, we addressed two important functions —inventory control and visual merchandising. We set up a departmentalized inventory system to help with POS, sales, vendor and stock reports. And, we helped improve their warehouse/stock room organization by creating a more efficient system for finding and maintaining stock items.

In early 2020, we had the opportunity to take the general manager of the Blue Bunny® ice cream parlor to New York City for her first buying trip. It was a productive venture that resulted in the sourcing of new vendors and gift products!

We have  been to Le Mars three times now to merchandise the shop, initial set up, holiday display and a spring refresh. Fortunately for us, the ladies in the parlor kitchen indulged us multiple times a day with fabulous treats. We look forward to returning again to this very “sweet” business.

Here are a few tips to help with merchandising your store:

  1. Departmentalize your inventory – it can make reporting, merchandising and purchasing sensible and more efficient.
  2. Merchandise Stories – take a section of your shop and fill it with only one brand. The brand stands out and creates a eye-pleasing collection.
  3. Brainstorm Sessions – don’t underestimate the power of brainstorming! When you are stuck, have your team throw as many ideas on a board as possible. This really gets the creative juices flowing.

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