Back To School Windows


The calendar (and the weather!) may still be saying 'summer', 
but fall is on the way....
bringing hordes of 'back to school' shoppers out of the pool and into stores.
It's time to catch their eye 
with some inspiring and FUN window displays!


At the resale store where I created visuals with a dynamo named Debby, 
we created two distinct stories in the two front windows:
One geared toward kids, and the other toward teens.

First up: 'It's Elementary!'
 A large black metal desk and file cabinet, and a black wood cubby unit, are the 'fixtures' here, 
evoking a teacher's desk in a classroom.
A giant piece of artwork in black and white is a stand-in for a chalkboard.
A cheerleader's megaphone adds a scholastic touch.
Two child-sized mannequins are dressed in 'uniform'-style clothing, and have wigs made from yellow yarn.
'Teacher' is dressed in a snappy jumper & blouse, 
and props on her desk include dictionaries, thesauruses, and a jar of red apples.
Some old flash cards were strung together with yarn, and hang down from above.

The final props were added after I shot the photos above:
Glass vases, filled with brand new wood pencils, present flowers for teacher.
 (Is there anything better than the smell of NEW pencils and OLD books? I don't think so :) )
Display here is about inspiring our customers with IDEAS as well as PRODUCTS.

In the second window, we encourage the older students to 'Study Hard'.

Two dark wood entertainment center pieces with movable cube shelves
and a tall wood file cabinet are our fixtures,
with a similar dark wood chair tucking into the scene.
A collection of blue World Book Encyclopedias fills in cubbies and shelves, 
and a few are opened up so that hats, belts, etc. can sit on top of them.
Ties in fun colors and funky patterns are draped through the display
and tumble out of shoppable file drawers at the front edge of the area.

The shirts, vests, sweaters and pants on the mannequins and wood hangers
are a combination of bright primary hues and wildly striped patterns - 
no, they probably would never be worn this way by a student,
but that's not what retail display is about!

BTW, here's a quick DISPLAY TIP:
the mannequin forms you see here 
include one 'MAN'nequin and one female form.
Can you tell the difference? Nope.
That's 'cause I turned the female form around BACKWARDS and dressed it!
No one knows what's under the clothes, so just 'make it work'!


Both windows featured the same color scheme - bright primaries - 
with a dark background to make them stand out. 
This makes the front of the store look organized, cohesive, and attractive...
which isn't always easy to do at a thrift/resale store!

BTW, this store sells clothing, furniture, art, books, and home decor -
all of which are shown in the window displays
 to help potential customers see 'what's in store' for them!


Summer Switch-Up!

I'd like to revisit an archived post, to show you how making a fast, simple but large-scale change
can make an incredible impact in your retail displays for the summer season...
Come with me on a lil' trip into the past!
 I created displays for Columbia Winery in Washington state for six years. Here's the 'logo' wall made of faux tumbled marble tiles in the front entry of the shop, filled with spring merchandise.When it came time to install the new summer displays one year, we had a bit of a dilemma: The summer merchandise is very contemporary, and in colors of white, silver, and blues. With that warm-tone, old-world style tile mural, we had some serious clashing going on that did nothing at all for the product.
I needed a solution.
Enter two very large mirrors that I had on hand, purchased for decor at a previous Auction of Washington Wines Winemaker Dinner. I decided to use those mirrors to cover up the tile. (IKEA, $135. each). I had my design assistant Karen help me heft them up onto the table, then I wired them to the sidewalls. There was still some tile showing, so I hung a white drapery panel on the side. In front of that went one of the two driftwood trellises that I purchased last year as summer props. On the top, to camouflage about six inches of tile, I hung white shutters at an angle - very 'Tommy Bahama'. Other shutters went beneath the table to lighten up the shadowed area a bit.

The result?
It was shockingly different from the previous look, and got a LOT of positive comments!
The mirror not only reflected the natural light coming in the windowed front doors straight across from it,
but it also bounced light from the overhead trac fixtures right down onto the glass merchandise.
Here's a shot of the entire main display, including the forward area with wine feature.
The tables are made from driftwood, and are for sale. Those driftwood trellises weren't for sale. The white chair was mine, and also was not for sale, just a prop. (That I fished out of a dumpster - really!)

It took maybe half an hour to install the mirrors, curtain, shutters, and props for that front display.
  Well worth it, wouldn't you say?

Now, think about what you might be able to do in your retail space....
with some old doors, or a section of cedar fencing, or maybe even salvaged rusty corrugated tin roofing.
The possibilities are endless, 
and the impact of a big change could be just what you need for the summer season.

Now.....where are my sunglasses? I'm heading for the beach......

this content originally appeared here on DWK visual merchandising blog in 2007. photos mine, copyright reserved.