Merchandising Tour: It’s a material world

The difference between an effective display and one that’s ho-hum depends greatly on the materials used. Learn how metal, wallpaper and wood can add pop to your store displays in this fourth installment from our Merchandising Tour series.

The difference between an effective display and one that’s ho-hum depends greatly on the materials used. When you spot something that stops you for a moment, sparks your interest and entertains, you’ll undoubtedly know the difference.

Whether you were a veteran or a first-timer to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, it was hard to miss the Horny Toad booth, which always exceeds expectations at every show with the use of unusual display props and fixtures. The “motel bedroom” lounge area in the booth was reminiscent of motels along old Route 66 and provided a comfortable “laid-back” area in the midst of a high-traffic booth location.

The corrugated metal wall behind the Horny Toad bed added shine to the presentation, and was also used very effectively by Overland Equipment in its booth sidewalls. The metal walls were the perfect neutral backdrop for Overland’s colorful messenger bags and packs. The addition of bright spots aimed at the walls heightened the metal’s reflectiveness and focused attention on the products on display. It’s no secret that light attracts, and Overland did a great job of using light in its booth to highlight its product presentation.

A prevalent theme in a few show booths was the use of wallpaper, which added a visually interesting element to the displays. Patagonia highlighted its women’s lifestyle apparel line by wallpapering display panels that served as backdrops for the company’s mannequins. The wallpapers were specially designed for the company in patterns and colors that coordinated with the clothing on display. The effect was decidedly feminine without being girly. Patagonia is not afraid to show its feminine side!

I was also delighted to see the new company, Waterbox, opt to use wallpaper on the walls behind its display of water bottles. The black-and-white pattern made a visually persuasive backdrop for the bright water bottle colors, while not distracting from the products. It was unexpected and effective.

Another booth that captured my attention was by Danner. The footwear company created a rough-hewn, authentic oasis using dark wood walls trimmed with metal and draped with leather skins. It also had a cardboard-encased TV monitor and needle-nose sign holders with company brochures along the outer walls. The interior display units were an acid-washed metal that combined well with the distressed-wood outer walls. Wood-framed images, some historical, decorated the exterior walls. Ultimately, the theme of authentic craftsmanship came through loud and clear.


What did these booths have in common? They all had an understanding of how using simple materials can influence the quality of product presentation. The metallic qualities of the corrugated metal and the unique use of wallpapers really illustrated how those materials can be adapted for use in the retail environment. Check out these examples of re-creating many of these looks in your store:

>> Choose a portion of wall and temporarily cover it with a panel of corrugated metal. Train track lighting on it and use it to highlight a special category of product you want to promote.

>> Cover gator foam board with wallpaper remnants and use them in a display window as backdrops for items showcased on pedestals in front. Cut the wallpapered foam board into squares, then artfully arranged them behind slatwall shelves to add interest.

>> Show authenticity in a footwear display by draping pieces of leather over a wood crate or cube, and then topping them with displays of leather boots or shoes.

--Sharon Leicham

Would you like to join Sharon Leicham, author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and merchandising editor for SNEWS®, during Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011 for the fourth Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour program, co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer and SNEWS? Currently, we are planning one hour-long merchandising tour of select exhibitor booths and displays designed for retailers and one hour-long merchandising tour focused on the needs of exhibitors. Email 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, Winter Market 2011 -- spaces are limited.



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