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Sales leaders: It's in the cards

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Costello's Hardware, Home & Garden of New York's Long Island has three stores ranked in the top 20 of Ace Hardware's leading gift card sales stores.

It helps having high-traffic stores in densely populated areas, said David Faulhaber, marketing coordinator for the 19-store chain based in Deer Park, N.Y. It also helps having a high-ticket, "giftier" merchandise mix that includes outdoor living, holiday-related products, power tools and housewares.

The same can be said for Simpson Ace of Sumter, S.C., where an eclectic mix of merchandise is a factor in the company's league-leading Ace gift card performance: $65,000 in the most recent year.

In-store merchandising matters, according to the Ace marketing team. A key area for gift card visibility is near the checkout. But the experts recommend promoting a gift card program throughout the store, with gift card displays, end-caps and signage.

The math is on the side of the gift card retailer, said Jody Allen, manager of Ace Rewards. "The average load of an Ace gift card is several dollars higher than the average redemption, which results in additional consumer visits," she said.

Success requires more than marketing, however. A major factor in Costello's ability to sell stored value cards is the ability to satisfy them in other areas, said Faulhaber.

"We have a loyal customer base nurtured over time by delivering outstanding customer service," he said.

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