Merchandising Tour: Fanciful displays at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011

The small, fanciful ideas and the ingenuity behind them were most impressive during the SNEWS™ Merchandising Tours co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer. Join Sharon Leicham as SNEWS gives you an inside ticket to what she discovered among the booths during Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011 -- ideas you can use now!
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They say necessity is the mother of invention. When it comes to trade shows, exhibitors have to come up with unique ways to make their products stand out from the crowd. And that isn’t easy since booths and the fixtures that go in them aren’t inexpensive. So invention becomes a necessity. The small, fanciful ideas and the ingenuity behind them impress me most and lead me to share the ideas I find with retailers during the SNEWS™ Merchandising Tours co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer.

Fixtures are the basis of display. They are the background, the support, and the aesthetic of good merchandising. Let’s take a tour of the fanciful fixtures found at the Outdoor Retailer 2011Winter Market.

Cubes are great for displaying small and medium-sized products. They can be used singly or stacked to provide height and variety. Obviously, they can’t handle tents or sleeping bags but are perfect for displays of smaller items like footwear, camping supplies and daypacks. Giesswein, makers of boiled wool slippers, took the idea of cubes and made it better. Instead of investing in wood cubes that tend to be weighty, they “slip-covered” cardboard boxes and plastic crates with pieces of its wool fabric and used them to display the footwear line. The different colors used on the cubes created an interesting display that would work in many retail environments. This clever idea only requires someone who knows how to sew to tailor the covers, some sturdy fabric (canvas would work well) and a bunch of cardboard boxes. How easy is that!

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Imagine you are in the Alps and have just made your last ski run of the day and are about to cozy up next to a roaring fire with a hot toddy. But first, you take off your skis and rest them on the rack just outside the door to the old lodge. Okay, I’m getting carried away but that’s the image I envisioned when I stumbled on the clever ski racks in the K2 booth. Instead of opting for something high tech and metal, the company drew on its heritage and created log fixtures that displayed the product beautifully and took us back to a simpler time.

Instead of using the ubiquitous metal grid wall, Indigenous Designs, known for its use of organic fibers and fabrics, fashioned an organic bamboo grid wall perfect for line presentations. It was both utilitarian and attractive. Bamboo poles are readily available online from a number of suppliers. You might check with your local garden shop to see if they carry them. You will be looking look for bamboo poles from 1.25 to 2 inches in diameter.

A bamboo grid could be used to back a window display. It is strong enough to handle clothing on hangers so you have the makings of a very easy apparel display. Use the grid wall to partition product categories in-store by hanging a bamboo grid wall from the ceiling at a right angle to the wall. Bamboo is lightweight and recyclable making it the perfect “green” fixture with a multitude of uses.

It is always fun to make a display out of everyday things. Take the Aladdin exhibit for instance. A collection of mismatched chairs wound up hanging at random on the booth walls where they were used to display water bottles. The booth also featured weathered wooden plank flooring that turned out to be rubber mats ordered from an Anthropology catalog.

Then there was the FITS sock lamp. You’ve all seen the movie, A Christmas Story, in which the leg lamp was the star. FITS decided to do something a little different to attract attention to its booth so, with some misgivings about how it would be received, they created their own leg lamp out of a simple mannequin leg wearing a FITS sock and topped off with a lampshade (next time add a little fringe to the shade!). The leg caused many a chuckle. Humor in displays is always refreshing.

Would you like to join Sharon Leicham, author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and merchandising editor for SNEWS®, during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011 for the fifth Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour program, co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer and SNEWS? Email merchandisingtour@snewsnet.com to put your name on a contact list for more information and to ensure your name is on the registration list for the next Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour Program, Summer Market 2011 -- spaces are limited.

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