Merchandising Tour: Natural environmental display ideas from Winter Market

It was interesting to see how much barn wood, rough-finished wood and pallets were used in booths at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. It may be a reaction to the present state of the economy but, regardless of the reason, it worked. In this first of six articles from the Merchandising Tours at Winter Market, we have visual examples you can incorporate now in your store.
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A trade show is a gold mine of visual display ideas. Exhibitors spend numerous hours and many dollars planning how to display the products they sell. After all, it is a competitive market and they often have only the trade show experience to make an impression on potential and returning buyers. So it makes sense to take their display ideas back to your store.

Spotting displays that were unique, product enhancing and easy to implement was the spark behind initiating the Outdoor Retailer and SNEWS® merchandising tours at Winter Market. Participants were ushered about the show floor in two distinct itineraries each day to visit the exhibitors who provided good examples of the use of color, lighting, signage, product presentation, props, motion and sound to attract attention to their booths and products.

This is the first of six articles that review the tours and focus on specific presentations that will work in the retail environment. In other words, they are “take home” ideas that are easy to implement.

But first, let’s talk about trends. I started in the outdoor industry working in retail in the mid-70s. In those days, we used a lot of barn wood on the walls and fixtures to suggest the outdoor experience. The wood was earthy, rugged and, most of all, cheap. We had no idea we were being environmentally conscious! So, it was interesting to see how much barn wood, rough-finished wood and pallets were used in booths at the show. It felt a bit like a time warp as it signaled a return to the industry’s heritage. It may be a reaction to the present state of the economy but, regardless of the reason, it worked.

One of the best manifestations of this trend was O Loves M, a SNEWS Mini BOB Award winner for its booth made entirely of recycled wood, an old door, pallets and rug pad remnants from the dumpster out back of the Salt Palace -- click here to see that award-winning booth in the SNEWS BOB Award article.

Chaco also utilized wood pallets to frame a corner display of its footwear.

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Alite, another SNEWS BOB Award winner in the Fun BOB category, used wood in an entirely different way cutting out two-dimensional bears, pine trees and campfire flames to add to its camping booth display. Click here to see that award-winning booth in the SNEWS BOB Award article.

Patagonia gathered limbs to serve as sign holders, suspending them over each of its clothing displays on side aisles. Other smaller sticks and branches were strewn at the feet of the mannequins.

The Prana booth may be the best example of using wood and natural fibers to showcase its product. From the booth’s rope walls to its angled roughhewn slatted walls, one felt the touch of the woods.

And lending atmosphere and sensibility to the booth, the conversation area harkened back to the days when outdoor stores were gathering places for climbers and mountaineers to exchange stories. A teacart and a camouflaged water cooler made visiting this booth a complete experience.

Another natural product that you’ll be seeing much more of in the future is the use of corrugated cardboard to construct tables, stools, and display platforms. Sole used corrugated pieces extensively in its SNEWS BOB Award-winning booth. The material is highly versatile as it compresses down like a fan and opens up to create any number of fixtures. It is sturdy, attractive, lightweight and can be used again and again.

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With these simple uses of natural materials, each of these booths was able to create a setting that celebrated the outdoors and showcased their products. They were great examples of what can be achieved in the retail store with a minimum of cost and effort.

In the next Merchandising Tour article, we’ll talk ideas, ideas and more ideas. There were lots of them at the show and I can’t wait to share them with you.

--Sharon Leicham

Would you like to join Sharon Leicham, author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and merchandising editor for SNEWS®, during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 for the third 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, Summer Market 2010 -- spaces are limited.

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