Holiday-Specific Displays: Yes or No?

The day before Independence Day, I hit a local thrift store
where the display shown in my photo above was right inside the entrance.

OK, yes, I critiqued it in my head - and honestly, they passed with flying colors!
This is Goodwill, not Nordstroms, and so the simplicity is very successful
AND easily changed when customers want to purchase items from the display.
Remember that Goodwill does not stock lines of product - 
everything is basically 'one of a kind' in there - 
so things sell off of mannequins and out of displays regularly.
I very nearly bought the blue maxi skirt on the center mannequin!!

Here's my question for my readers:
Does it PAY to create holiday-specific displays in YOUR store?
Do you reap the benefits of the time invested?
Does it spur sales of products with limited shelf lives before a certain date?
Do you see NOTICEABLE sales increases of this merchandise
if you feature it in a themed display?

Me? I LOVE themed and holiday-specific displays.

I believe that one display in a store, and maybe a window,
gathering up all of the related product and presenting it in a united theme,
can really help customers SEE what you offer, be INSPIRED to take it home
and re-create the look for their own homes & celebrations.
 
It's a far sight easier than having the products scattered all over your store,
forcing customers to wander and search everywhere
to see what you offer.
If your customers come in for patriotic napkins, and they find them in the napkin section,
they will grab them, check out, and go home perfectly happy with their napkins.

Yet if those napkins are presented in a small display
along with plates, candles, candle holders, table runners, and fun banners,
the customer would most likely purchase MORE items for their party...
meaning your per-transaction total just went up.
(Remember that old sales adage that says 
'It's easier to sell MORE to an existing customer than to GET a new customer?' 
It's true.)
Not to mention that they go home ECSTATIC that they found more wonderful things!

So give your existing customers the opportunity to buy MORE from you than what they came in for.
Give 'em napkins - and everything ELSE they need for a spectacular party table setting.


This subject has been on my mind for the past week,
because I have seen many PERFECT opportunities 
to present Patriotic, Red-White-and-Blue merchandise in three specific stores.
I even heard guests (customers ;) ) ASK for those products - because they couldn't see them.
Yet there was no solution of a centralized location for the merchandise, 
no display to draw the guests (customers :) ) attention to them with theme or color,
and no apparent concern that those products with a limited shelf life existed in the stores
and needed to be sold when the opportunity was at hand.

(By 'limited shelf life' I mean that 
there is a preferred and timely 'window of opportunity' to sell them effectively - 
not that they are perishables.
Fourth of July products sell best the two weeks immediately before the holiday.
At full price, that is!)

It confounds me that a company that I believe has the best merchandising in the world
missed the boat on this one.
And it's a BIG BOAT!
(like, white triple-deck paddlewheeler riverboat big, if you get my drift!)

I asked about the lack of such displays in those stores, and was told
"No, we don't really do that here."
Well...... maybe they SHOULD.
It's the busiest time of the year, people are looking for and wanting this kind of product,
and other parts of the locale are promoting the R/W/B Patriotic theme and color palette,
and do themed displays.
People want to join in that celebration...
so why are these retail locations making it so hard for them to do so?
Ultimately, it's negatively impacting the store's bottom line AND the guest (customer :) ) enjoyment.
I'm going to get to the bottom of the reasons behind that decision, trust me.

Vintage display by Seabold Vintage Market . Bainbridge Island, WA.

It's entirely possible to pull together an effective display 
just by quickly uniting items from all over the store by color and theme -
I could have accomplished it in less than 30 minutes per store.
You don't have to invest tons of money, effort, or time
or big props and backdrops and fixtures to get results.
Just take the opportunity to give your customer what they want
in an easy, "don't have to think about it, just grab it and buy it" way.


Goodwill Industries delighted me with their very simple Patriotic entry display.
The stores I am thinking of needed to do the same.
What about yours?

The Art of Display

Artist Claes Oldenburg describes art as a technique of communication:
“The image is the most complete form of communicating,” he says.

This is also an apt description of the practice of retail display:
Visual images convey information, mood and ideas to the customer,
compelling them to purchase what you offer. 

For new store owners and seasoned veterans alike, 
visual merchandising is a vital component of retailing -
one that must be planned and updated continuously to obtain the best results. 

You don’t need to be a professional artist to understand how art works, 
as harnessing the power of art to communicate creatively with customers 
begins with the basics.
To understand the basic principles of how art relates to visual merchandising, 
think about how product displays are viewed by a customer 
just as they view art in a museum.

Read this article in its entirety on the SMART retailer website HERE.

This content is mine, and originally appeared in Country Business Magazine in 2005,
and on their website in 2006. They re-branded as SMART retailer in 2008.

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