Merchandising Tour: Live it up and have fun

It’s a complicated world we live in. Rather than focus on the bad stuff, let’s focus on what we, as retailers, can do to liven things up. Yes, folks, let’s have some fun, using a few display ideas from Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 in this fifth installment from our Merchandising Tour series.
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It’s a complicated world we live in. Often, the news is dreary, the weather unpredictable and the economy is in the pits. So, rather than focus on the bad stuff, let’s focus on what we, as retailers, can do to liven things up -- and what better place to do it than in your store.

Does that mean a new paint job? That would certainly do it, especially if you select one prominent wall and give it a splash of hot color. Ratcheting up lighting by installing more spots to illuminate the walls and freestanding fixtures -- while reducing light levels in the other parts of the store -- would do it, too. So would creating displays that make your customers pause and elicit a smile and enjoy themselves. Yes, folks, let’s have some fun and stop taking ourselves so seriously.

I found some displays at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 that may give you inspiration for doing a few “out of the box” displays in your stores. One of the easiest ways to liven up a space is to use the overhead or ceiling space to hang banners, signage or decorative elements like Japanese lanterns. Lanterns were used very effectively in the Carve Designs and Eagle Creek booths as a means to attract attention and move the eye to the products below them. Lanterns remind one of backyard summer parties…and who doesn’t have fun at those? For an easy and affordable display prop, they can’t be beat.

When Fishpond debuted its booth a couple of shows ago complete with an old Chevy pickup truck in the center, it won a SNEWS BOB award. The truck -- found out in the wilderness and refurbished -- served as a display platform for the company’s bags and duffels. The authenticity of the truck and the story it told added interest and genuineness to the booth. The truck was back this summer along with an obviously recycled green “reception” table. I know there is not enough room to park a pickup in most retail shops, but give some thought to what might have the same effect. An old metal bench or gas pump might do. Don’t waste time fixing up the objects you find. Use whatever you locate in its original shape for added interest. Your customers will have fun reminiscing.

Prana always comes up with an original piece of art for the sidewall of its booth. I always look forward to seeing what the folks there have constructed. The bike rims and wheels in this show’s Rube Goldberg-type exhibit were laced with webbing and fabric scraps and attached by a rope, so when passersby turned one wheel, they all turned. A patched rough-hewn wood wall painted in scroll designs provided a background for the wheels. If you are lucky enough to have an artist on staff or a talented customer who can create something interesting for you in a front display window or behind the cash/wrap, give him or her the opportunity to add art and whimsy to your store environment.

You may have missed the climbing display high above the Five Ten booth. Despite its positioning above eye level, the color and use of the mannequin made this display memorable. I loved the repetition of the company’s multi-colored and randomly placed lettering. The red-shirted climber mannequin added dimension to the display, and the black background helped all the elements stand out. This same printing technique (minus the mannequin) could be used on a black banner hanging in the climbing area -- or any area of the store -- with company logos. Talk to your suppliers about partnering with you to do displays that are vivid, eye-catching and fun.

--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 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, Winter Market 2011 -- spaces are limited.

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