A quick look at an Inc. 500 company that uses pushcarts in malls to sell its products.
United Vision Group, in Ossining, N.Y., makes the kind of handsome wooden gifts you won't find at Wal-Mart. The company made its way to success by stepping rung by rung up the retail ladder. It's one of a very few Inc. 500 companies that have moved their products on pushcarts.
Pushcarts? Don't laugh. With a good cart you can bring in $55,000 in a holiday season. "It's hectic when you open November 1 and close December 31," admits Joseph Coyne, a sales vice-president at United Vision. But the ruthless selling cycle taught the company invaluable lessons about product mix and product life cycles.
From carts, United Vision stepped up to mall kiosks -- temporary freestanding huts twice the size of carts. When several mall developers subsequently asked United Vision to take over vacant stores for a season, the company moved toward more sophisticated merchandising. The temporary stores' sales indicated sites ripe for expansion, and last October United Vision opened its first permanent store, called PG Arbor & Co., in New Jersey's Rockaway Town Square Mall. Meanwhile, the company's 200 or so carts and kiosks, in malls from Seattle to South Florida, kicked in 60% of last year's $24 million in sales.