How can I sell at airports?
FSB's Anne Fisher helps an entrepreneur efficiently pitch her product by contacting a ubiquitous terminal retailer.
Dear FSB: I've developed a product that could make it more comfortable for air travelers to go through security checkpoints, so I think it would sell well in airports. The airport authorities I've asked have told me I need to contact buyers for the individual retail chains that lease airport space, but there are so many of them. What's the most efficient way to present a product to these buyers? Do I have to approach them one by one?
-Michelle Peters Owner, Nicky Enterprises, Fort Lauderdale
Dear Michelle: The plethora of retailers operating in airports do business under various brands, but many belong to the same parent firms. By far the biggest airport store owner (and the only one that operates across the U.S.) is Hudson Group, which boasts more than 400 shops in 59 airports, including newsstands, clothing stores, and toy shops. Buys for all are made by Hudson's merchandising department in East Rutherford, N.J. The folks there say they are always seeking new products that might appeal to air travelers. Says Hudson Group director of communications Laura Samuels: "Stocking an ever-changing array of products is crucial to our business."
Your best bet: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, type "attention merchandising department" in the subject line, and describe your offering. If you think that snail-mailing a sample might be more persuasive, send it to Hudson Group Merchandising Department, One Meadowland Plaza, Suite 902, East Rutherford, N.J. 07073, with a letter stating why you think air travelers would snap up your product.
A vital detail: Your letter or e-mail should acknowledge that most Hudson Group shops are near boarding gates, beyond the point where fliers undergo security screening - but a product that improves that experience might appeal to travelers with connecting or return flights.
Have you pitched your product to a large chain? Share your experiences.