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NEW YORK-Retail stores are getting bigger, and that means big opportunities for the point-of-purchase industry. Manufacturers and even retailers are looking to POP to help merchandise products in huge retail settings like Home Depot and the Sports Authority.

Standing out in the Sports Authority was a challenge for Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. Director of Marketing Services Scott Smith told attendees at the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute's Marketplace '95 conference here last week that his company is doing more in-store marketing because of these big retail outlets.

"The sporting goods industry is going through a transition," Mr. Smith said. "Megastores are popular, and the corner sporting goods store is gone."

For example, Sports Authority stacks baseball gloves in narrow baskets across one wall of the aisle, making it hard for the consumer to see and pick out a favorite.

Rawlings was unable to convince the retailer to totally abandon its basket system. But display company AG Industries, Cleveland, designed an end-cap display that fits on the end of Sports Authority's glove aisle. Gloves are then placed on peg hooks so that the consumer can easily see and handle the merchandise.

A different problem faced Master Lock Co. with No. 1 home improvement chain Home Depot. For months the marketer had struggled to get its new line of doorknobs and fixtures in all Home Depot stores. So Master Lock turned to display company Frank Mayer & Associates, Grafton, Wis.

Working with the retailer and marketer, Mayer developed a display that fit into Home Depot shelving.

"Warehouse retailers are demanding that merchandise be presented better," said Michael Stephens, account exec for Frank Mayer. "But the display also must maintain the store's look."

Even Toys "R" Us looked for some merchandising help as it entered the computer software business. It can be difficult for such huge retailers to compete with the small specialty software stores that have several salespeople with expertise in that one product. So Toys "R" Us turned to RTC Industries, Rolling Meadows, Ill.

Because the software is so expensive, Toy "R" Us must lock away the boxes to prevent shoplifting. This leaves consumers with no information to make a decision on which software to buy.

So RTC designed a display carrying information on each software program on big plastic cards. Eventually, the display will become interactive and have a TV screen where consumers can request software demonstrations.

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