Keep Moving Forward.....


I am SO excited about a new direction for my business!
It's one that will enable me to work with creatives, artists, makers and crafters 
who need help with their work & hobby spaces!
Last week I worked on an #ArtfulMakeover in artist Sharyn Sowell's studio...
and it truly engaged ALL of my creative energy as I helped her solve dilemmas in her space
that had all but shut down her creative muse.

I helped her tackle storage and organizational challenges,
set up systems to contain the myriad of supplies she needs,
and assisted in making this space just SING her brand image in the process!
I'll share more of that project from start to finish soon, but here's a sneak peek:
As we worked, Sharyn learned a lot about space design.
I learned a lot, too - including that there are a LOT of creative people who need help like this!
So I'm broadening my horizons, breaking out of the retail 'box',
and moving forward in a new creative direction...
providing studio & booth design assistance to artists, creators, makers, and vendors.

Find out more about this NEW service HERE

Published: A Pro Tip from Deb!

I was contacted this week by Allan from Fit Small
an online resource for small businesses.
I'd never heard of them (Sorry!) but after he proposed a collaboration, 
I went to the site to check them out.

Seriously, they have an abundance of resources and materials
featuring educational information for the many varied facets of owning a small business!
I am very impressed - including with the comprehensive coverage of topics.
The articles & posts (this encompasses a website AND blog) are well-written
on a plethora of subjects that apply to many kinds of businesses - including retail.

...and there's SO much more...

Allan had come across my past blog posts on cash wraps (find them here and here)
and wanted to ask if I would consider adding the Fit Small Biz post about cash wraps to mine.
After reading their article, I was already leaning to 'YES!'...
Then Allan offered to insert content from me into one of their top-ranking articles!
Excellently written by Jason Rueger, their post is on the subject of store planning & design - 
and my recently published article in Gift Shop Magazine also focuses on retail space planning, 
so the concept of Zone Design was a perfect fit.
I pulled some information together, sent it off to Allan, 
and just a few hours later he emailed to tell me it's live. ALREADY!
I'm even MORE impressed now...

After reading his email, I went to their site to check out the article (and grab a few screen shots)...
They've chosen to add me in as a 'Pro Tip', with a link to my website.

I immediately clicked over here and added the Fit Small Business link 
to both of my own cash wrap blog posts, 
as well as their blog link in the 'Resources' sidebar section.
And I'm giving them a shout-out in a dedicated post because honestly,
anyone who can do business in a manner that is beneficial to both parties
and that benefits a LOT of readers deserves a spotlight.

I highly recommend them - so head over to Fit Small right now,
and plan to spend a couple of hours perusing their content.
Including the store planning post that features my Pro Tip!
You're going to learn a LOT!

Thank you again, Allan, for the opportunity to collaborate with you on this.
I look forward to working with you again!

Published: Gift Shop Magazing Spring 2016

The new Spring issue of Gift Shop Magazine arrived in my mailbox today, 
with my most recent article running on pages 120 - 124.
The subject this time is the efficient and effective use of space in a small store...
something I hear about ALL the time when I speak at trade shows and conferences.
The subject was inspired by a comment from a Gift Shop Magazine reader last winter,
who answered the question "What would you do with $10,000 for your store?" with this:

"We so need a makeover from a professional, 
and $10,000 would take care of any costs to make this project successful!"
Lynda Carson Sheuermann, owner of Nautica Design Gallery in Miami, Florida, 
has a 500-square foot store that, according to her, enough merchandise for DOUBLE that space. 
That presented some pretty serious challenges - and since all small storeowners have space challenges, 
I thought the subject was one of general interest and would reach a large number of interested readers.

It's a great read, with some inspiring images, 
and I hope you will visit the Gift Shop Magazine website + social media pages 
to see more of the content I provided for this issue!

In the article, I present my Top 5 Tips for Small Store Success:
* Utilize the principle of zone design for overall layout
* Learn how fixtures can help or hinder your capacity
* See how to use vertical space for displays + stock storage 
* Understand the effective use of color
*Find ideas for presenting merchandise in ways that maximize selection and sales.
Focusing on those five areas will get you on the path toward success...  
one step at a time! 

As I was writing this article, I was in contact with Lynda, and she sent me many images of her store.
I referred to them as I looked at her challenges, liabilities, and problems...
which helped me to focus on the starting points for her 'virtual makeover'.

I had an idea as I was writing, and ran it past Julie McCallum, editor of Gift Shop Magazine....
I want to cover my makeover ideas for Lynda's store here on my blog,
where I have the space to share more photos and a more in-depth view
of what I see there and how Lynda can address it.
Over the next few months, I will be writing here and sending her information
that will help her transform a store that is pretty overloaded and overwhelming
into a shopping environment & experience that she can be in control of -
and that her customers will LOVE visiting!
..and then it will get the spotlight in the pages of Gift Shop Magazine!

 My goal is to not only help Lynda solve her dilemmas, but to help everyone reading this
to see how you can utilize very last inch of space effectively in your stores.
Stay tuned.... there's MUCH MORE to come!

This issue of Gift Shop Magazine is available online in digital format!

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Make It Sparkle for Mother's Day

 Oftentimes, the simplest changes can make the biggest impact in a store or booth...
case in point is how you display your jewelry.  
With Mother's Day approaching, jewelry is high on the 'Hot List' of wanted gifts - 
so make it stand out in your store!

There are hundreds of ways, hundreds of fixtures you can purchase or that are provided by suppliers.
I tend to lean toward simplicity because I like the PRODUCT to be the star of the show.

Jewelry is such a small product, in a small scale, that making a visual impact with it is difficult.
I've posted about how to present your jewelry at shows and jewelry in windows before,
but recently I saw two ways to present delicate jewelry that sparked my interest....

The first, shown in the photos above and below, 
is a way to update those black velvet jewelry forms that seem to be in every store around... 
I saw this in the gift shop of the Mission San Luis Rey, California:
simply wrap them up in some thin cotton muslin fabric, stapling as you go to create a smooth look.
The result is a neutral background that helps bounce light (instead of absorbing it, as black does)
that will set off jewelry in any tone.
I've seen new versions made with burlap - but burlap is a tough fabric to try a DIY project with.
Note that these light-colored forms are placed inside a dark wood cabinet.
The contrast created contributes to the stand-out effect.

*I recommend this presentation for everything except fine jewelry.
You won't ever do better than using a dark velvet or satin fabric 
as a background for presenting sparkling diamonds and precious stones. 
Shades of black, navy blue, espresso brown, deep emerald, and deep charcoal are best for those products. 
They bring out the sparkle like nothing else can*

The second solution is a DIY one, executed with aplomb and style
by a vendor at the recent JunkBonanza antique show in San Diego, CA.
Sacred Heart Studios created neck forms from salvaged wood - to great effect.

Simply cut shapes from old wood (and the marvelous patina inherent in the grain) 
add stunning texture to displays in this vintage & reclaimed furniture booth, 
bringing the eye directly to the beautiful jewelry made from salvaged metals and findings.

When your jewelry is THIS unique, your props and forms should speak the same language.
She's looking into producing these forms for sale, so check with her website for availability!

What else can you do to freshen up your jewelry displays?

*Bring nature in: branches, bark, rocks, sand, shells, moss/lichen all add texture
and will set off the colors and themes of the jewelry you sell.

*Go for contrast: like the suggestion to pair deep rich velvet with sparkling jewels up above,
think about using matte finish fabrics and surfaces paired with shiny metallic jewelry - 
and vice versa. Use dark color backgrounds with light jewelry, as well as the opposite.

* Imagery Sells: pages pulled from magazines or books will help you 'Tell A Fashion Story':
Pair high fashion shots of shoes, handbags, and dresses with color-coordinated jewelry.
Use the images laying flat, create a collage on the wall behind a jewelry display, and
bend images around vases and boxes to add 3-D effects to the display.
See my ideas for using paper in jewelry displays.

*Sell The Dream: Breakfast at Tiffanys. Need I say more?
Well, YES! See what I have to say about merchandising in the iconic film set.

*Be Original: Use fixtures and props that create and express your brand image.
See what this vintage show vendor did that made me stop in my tracks...
and this vintage show vendor who created a gallery-quality booth.

Now you have the tools and ideas to improve your jewelry presentation...
get in there and FOOF IT UP for all of the daughters, sons, husbands, and dads
who are desperately looking for inspiration for a Mother's Day gift!

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The Science of Display

The more people I talk with, the more I learn
that MOST retailers are completely mystified by visual merchandising.
They view it as some ethereal and intrinsic skill,
so they usually just 'wing it' or hand over the duty to a staff member -
who is just as likely to 'wing it'.

Yes, you can hire a stylist - like me - to come into your store
and make your displays look fabulous.
And I truly love working with retailers, artisans, and vendors in that way.

But do you know the REASON that I and other stylists can do this?

It's because we know what the science is behind successful merchandising:
We understand what makes customers approach, investigate, and select items.
We understand that display styling is another form of creating a piece of 'art',
just like a still life painting - and the 'rules' of art apply.
We can manipulate space, lighting, perspective, and materials
to create a mood, a theme, a style - an experience.
We can transport your customers to another place... another galaxy, even!

Although it doesn't hurt to have natural abilities in 'the art of arrangement', 
merchandising is a science - and a skill that can be taught and learned.

Let's look at a bit of the 'science of display':

By combining items in a singular theme, with similar colors,
arranging them in a cohesive manner using materials that coordinate with the theme,
and composing a 3-D 'still life' where there is a focal point,
stylists can create successful retail displays that sell your merchandise
AND tell your store's story.
What's the focal point here?
It's the mannequins and art piece up high on the table that the spotlight is shining on.
It can be seen from the entry to the store, catches your eye, and draws you closer.
(Walt called that 'the wienie' - the hot dog. The carrot on a string leading you along.
It's exactly what the Castle over in Disneyland does.)

Along with the main focal point, there are secondary focal points:
The merchandise that is lower in the display, and the wall behind it.
It's all coordinated in theme, color, and presentation style.
It helps make the focal point POP  - instead of distracting from it.

You can see that a specific selection of product is used here,
however there are variations -
Soft-surface tee shirts, pillows, backpacks and hats. Hard-surface art and small souvenirs.
Light colors and dark colors. Square and circular forms.
Matte and shiny finishes on merchandise and fixturing.
All of these combine in the display just as they would in a painting, adding interest.

Successful display is creating a composition, not a table piled with product.

 Look closely at those two side-by-side photos...
I took them at the same location in the D Street store at the Disneyland Resort,
one week apart.
While they may look quite different, they aren't.
The theme is exactly the same in both photos - Star Wars.
The fixtures - tables, racks, mannequins - are identical.
The containers holding small items are identical.
In both cases,  their placement in the display composition is different.
Only the actual product on the mannequins, racks, easel and hat stands have changed.

Take a look at the mechanics of this display,
and see if you can't pick out ways to re-arrange it and make it look different.
Take into account the product on the back wall, too...

These displays change weekly at the Disneyland Resort.
I hear the collective groan of retailers saying 'I don't have TIME for that!'
but once you realize how simple it is just to change a few things
and get a whole new fresh look that will draw customers in,
how can you not MAKE time for it?
Teach your staff HOW to do this. Teach them WHY.
Then give them half an hour a day to make changes in one display...
by the end of each week, you'll have fresh new looks all over your store.
You'll have empowered staff members.
And you'll all have a better understanding of the science of display.

Want to learn MORE about the science of retail?
The ultimate 'bible' of retail is 'Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping'
by retail anthropologist Paco Underhill.
I highly recommend it to all my clients and readers!
(click the title to find it on Amazon)

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