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    Credit: PHOTO COURTESY KALAMAZOO POOL

Pool toys and games are the ultimate impulse products. But that’s not to say specialty retailers shouldn’t actively promote them. Following are a few suggestions to help merchants prop up the category.

Run a replacement sale. Mitch Smith, national sales manager at Great American Merchandise & Events in Scottsdale, Ariz., recommends promoting toys and games as part of a replacement sale.

Early summer is a great time for consumers to stock up on items — for example, floats and air mattresses — that may have worn out or lost their appeal. “It could be slim pickings in June at a mass merchant,” he adds.

Capitalize on events and holidays. Memorial Day and Fourth of July are obvious times to advertise products geared toward family fun. But who says you can’t generate excitement, and sales, around other events? Jerry Piscatelli, co-owner of Portopong in Naugatuck, Conn., suggests promoting toys and games for adults around Father’s Day (the third Sunday in June) or sporting events like the NFL draft (late April) or Kentucky Derby (early May).

Get inclusive. Consider comprehensive promotions that involve both the consumer and dealer, says Lisa Goshgarian, marketing manager at Poolmaster in Sacramento, Calif. Special peel-off coupons (also called blow-ons or tip-ons) can easily be attached to the outside of a toy’s packaging. The voucher may offer a discount on future purchases of a manufacturer’s line, or simply redeemed at the point of sale. It could also enter the consumer into a sweepstakes.

“These are more customized promotions that can be done seasonally, or really anytime,” she says. “The key is that you’re involving everyone.”