The Merchandising Doctor reorganizes Hip Consignment

One of the big challenges in opening a store is forming a relationship with a new physical space. Even with elaborate planning and endless attention to detail, there still might be a need to call the SNEWS Merchandising Doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

One of the big challenges in opening a store is forming a relationship with a new physical space. Even with elaborate planning and endless attention to detail, nothing takes the place of actually inhabiting the space. Sometimes your primary wall becomes a wall you barely considered. Sometimes, as fixtures are placed, space doesn’t flow as you'd hoped. Other times, inventory presents you with challenges you could not have prepared for. This is the nature of the visual merchandising beast. Today’s patient chose to call our Merchandising Doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

The Patient: Hip Consignment

Hip Consignment (, located on the busy Pearl Street pedestrian Mall in downtown Boulder, Colo., sells new and nearly new designer label clothing and accessories. The store opened earlier in 2011 and has seen a steady flow of traffic, but the owners wanted to improve the store’s visual merchandising and fixture layout before Fashion’s Night Out to encourage steady sales, maximize wall usage and create impact. 

The Diagnosis

Trying to do too much in a small space with diverse product was creating confusion, making too much visual noise, and making it difficult to place new product.

The Treatment

The store needed sections clarified and categories cleaned up as well as a new fixture layout to add visual interest, invite exploration and better utilize space. That meant we needed to reorganize the entire store and put into play the ‘less is more,’ visual merchandising theory!

The Process:

>> Identify and define categories and then place product accordingly (i.e. fitness, sweaters, jackets, tops, etc.)

>> Create order by grouping tops first by color, then silhouette and organizing sizes in their own bay. (Not only does this allow women to easily find the bay that houses their size, but it also allows the store to better manage inventory.)

>> Add single stacker exterior signage to grab mall traffic, and incorporate more size and category signage within the store.

>> Remove displays on shelving above bays: There is so much visual noise in a consignment shop that the footwear and bag displays only add to the dissonance. Better to keep clean lines and let the product speak for itself.

>> Relocate jeans to the front of the store to calm the entry with a consistent product run and to add a seasonal element. Also move boots toward the front of the store to add a seasonal element.

>> Relocate and reorganize “Just in” styles to a primary wall.

Cashwrap area before:

Cashwrap area after:

>> Group all pocketbooks and purses together on a new bookcase. Previously, purses were scattered throughout the store and did not have any specific home.




>> Reorganize fixtures on a diagonal to encourage flow throughout store.


And here is what it looks like after we reorganized:

>> Clean up front table and get rid of jewelry that was taking up too much space and time to organize and that didn’t meet with the Hip Image.

Before Merchandising Doctor's treatment:


Under our care, the patient had a table that displayed a select inventory (that met Hip's image) with a greater possibility of selling!

Important note: Despite the owner keeping her staff involved in decision making and providing regular communication, which included hosting a meeting where changes were explained and questions answered, three lead sales staff up and quit without notice in the midst of the visual reorganization – a move both unprofessional and immature. But it bears mentioning that retailer owners and management need to keep a close eye on staff interaction and be prepared for anyone who has not yet learned how to gracefully pivot in the business environment to be disgruntled or even leave!

Robin Enright is the founder of Merchandising Matters, an agency providing visual merchandising support to brands and retailers and is the merchandising editor for SNEWS.

Want merchandising support? Email the SNEWS merchandising help team at to have your merchandising challenge considered for publication in a Merchandising Doctor column. There is no cost for an initial consult by Robin, and if you are tapped to be featured in our Merchandising Doctor column, the advice and guidance leading to a fix (up to four hours of merchandising time – either in person or a virtual consult) is free. Actual hard costs such as new fixtures, lighting, travel expenses and more are the responsibility of the retailer.



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