Picture That!

Yesterday I snapped photos of a few displays at the Rogers Gardens Gallery shop,
 because this idea is a really simple and inexpensive way to elevate your displays...

remove the 'stock photo' insert in the frames you are selling, 
and replace that piece of paper with another!

What KIND of paper, you ask?

*How about wrapping paper? Paper napkins? Scrapbook paper?
(all available in many patterns and every color of the rainbow, 
sure to coordinate with any feature display palette you conjure!)
*Old sheet music or Illustrated book pages for vintage style?
*Newspaper, SANDpaper, or aluminum foil for an industrial vibe?

 Gone are the photos of strangers staring at your customers, 
making them wonder why THEIR relatives aren't that photogenic.
Now it's just a palette of color, texture, and possibility! 

(you might want to save those stock photo sheets, though... 
 you never know when you might need a lot of black & white photos for a backdrop!)

Relaxing ReDesign Project

I'm currently in San Antonio, Texas for both business and personal reasons...
and along with visiting with my eldest daughter, her husband, and my son & grandson,
I had the pleasure of working with my daughter Jeni on her business.

She asked me to take a look at the reception area/lobby of her massage & yoga studio,
with the idea of making it both look better and function more effectively.

The view directly ahead of you as you walk in the double doors.
The hallway leads to the massage rooms and storage areas.
A closer view of the 'retail area' -
minus a LOT of the products on the upper unit.
I forgot to snap photos before we started stripping it!
 to the right of the 'retail area' is the reception desk.
 behind the desk is a large chalkboard, and a big heavy file cabinet.
 A fabulous loveseat offers customers a place to wait for services/classes.
 ... and we're back at the entry.
 The painted concrete floor is softened with cushy rugs.
On the left side of the entry is the door to the yoga studio, 
and the 'yoga shoe cubby' which leads into the hallway.

There were some storage issues, and also some traffic problems,
 so I addressed those:

1. When clients sit on the loveseat, awaiting their massage or yoga class, 
the staff continually walks right past them, in VERY close proximity, to and from the desk.
This causes the clients to have to swing their legs out of the way multiple times. Not good.

2. Also, the 'retail area' wasn't organized or offering customer-friendly access,
plus it was placed in a less than optimum location...
because when clients arrive for a massage or class, they aren't in the mood to shop.
They want the services.  
So seeing the retail products first thing isn't actually a good plan...
let them see it after class as they come out, and they'll be more relaxed and ready to BUY.

3. And the desk itself wasn't really organized, so employees had to repeatedly get in and out
to access supplies in the course of doing their reception jobs.
The plan:
1. Switch the location of the retail area with the loveseat, 
enabling us to address the traffic flow AND retail location issues. 

2. Maximize the visibility of the retail products with concise and accessible presentation.

3. Utilize the available storage placement for client files, paperwork, and retail products 
as effectively as possible, using the fixtures on hand.

 Jen had a great original visual concept AND some great elements on hand to work with,
so the redesign was pretty simple.

Two NEW (but free!) items were added to the room:
*a large seagrass rug - came from Jen's home 
* a large wood pallet - 'pilfered' from a furniture company dumpster

First we emptied the room of everything except the heaviest furniture
(file cabinet, desk, printer table)
then placed the new seagrass rug on the floor - and the space felt immediately larger
with a singular surface over most of the visible floor space.
(Those two rugs in the 'before' shots were soft, but they chopped up the space visually)
We patched a few holes on the walls and touched up the paint.
While that was drying, we hauled in the tall pallet and leaned it against the wall
where the loveseat used to be.
Important Detail: This wall is problematic. 
It's concrete, and does not accept screws. It also doesn't like adhesives.
Nothing Jen has ever put there stays on the wall.
(The large marketing banner seen in the before photos was hung from the drop ceiling)
So the pallet was a great solution to provide vertical hanging area for merchandise,
and stability was provided when we placed the HEAVY file cabinet in front of it.
That pallet isn't going anywhere.
Apparel merchandise is displayed on wood hangers hooked onto the pallet slats,
and hung from a few tiki torches shoved into the top of the pallet for height.
(There is a decidedly 'beachy' vibe here!)

On top of the file cabinet, and next to it, we placed two of the four-square cubby units.
They hold ALL of the merchandise, which is now neatly folded by design and size,
or corralled into galvanized containers. 
Everything is accessible, viewable, and shoppable.
Small chalkboard signs provide price info.
The loveseat moved to the opposite wall.
A huge wood slab 'bulletin board' with event info and two great marketing photos 
were moved from the hallway to the wall behind the seat.

Next to it on the same wall is a grouping of awards and recognition....
because when you win 'the Best of San Antonio' FOUR years in a row,
then you have bragging rights. Use them!
(note: Jen doesn't have all of them at the office yet, so there's room for this to expand to hold them all.
She won 'BEST of' in Massage for four years, 
and 3rd place Yoga last year - her FIRST year with a yoga studio. Proud Mom here!)
Here's the bonus of putting this material on this wall:
It's all visible from the glass front doors.
So when the studio is closed, people can look in and SEE
the awards and the large photos that show what Ashiatsu Massage is actually all about!
 The desk was moved to a 90 degree angle from the wall instead of its previous angle -
which opened up the right side for better employee access.
That large file cabinet is also within easy reach of the desk while being away from clients' eyes:
 A small table with drawers tucks in next to the file cabinet on the right side - 
the bonus is that it holds a small office-supply drawer stack, it's not visible to clients, 
and it doesn't block the light coming in the window.
On the left as you enter are the 'yoga cubbies', and they haven't changed.
We removed one 4-cubby unit to use for the retail area,
and that lightened up the hallway by opening the space up more.
Another wood slab bulletin board hangs here, 
with class info.
Bonus: the open area makes the small fountain's noise more prominent,
adding to the peaceful environment. 
These two 'uncluttered' solutions enhance the feng shui of the space, 
very important considerations for a health-conscious business.

Here's a side-by-side of the transformation:

Items we took out of the space and did NOT re-use in it:

* one tall black cubby unit 
(it now sits horizontally and holds yoga mats in the yoga studio)

* the slatted wood wall shelf unit
(It was actually a headboard, and went back to her house to be used as such!)
I think my 'You don't have to use a thing the way it was intended to be used' is genetic ;) 

* the round and rectangular rugs
(they went home to her family room)

I created the plan for this in half an hour on one afternoon, 
and the next morning we loaded the rug from Jen's house
then picked up the pallet on the way to the studio.
We started on the changes at 9:30 AM, and finished at 12:30 PM.
That's about 4 1/2 hours total time invested. And not one cent.

You CAN make a HUGE impact in just a few hours without spending any money!

When done, we went out for a relaxing lunch with tasty hibiscus margaritas, 
then went back and Jen gave me one of her 
'Most Luxurious Massages on the Planet'.
I was JELLO!
I consider those both a complete bonus, 
because working with her on this project was just a whole lotta' fun.

Want more info on award-winning Ashiatsu Massage in San Antonio?
Check out Heeling Sole Barefoot Massage !

Red, White, Blue... #WhatsInYOURWindows ?

 In my last post, I shared an 'artistic' point of view window display.
After creating it, I took some time off from this job
to help my Mom take care of my Dad, who was in the last stages of cancer.

In my absence, my design partner Debby redesigned the window...
keeping the big armoire that backed the other display and giving it a whole new look!
She attached two large white shutters to it to create a bright backdrop 
for fashion and home decor elements in a red, white, and blue palette:
Making use of the existing structure but changing it with a new 'prop' was the perfect decision!
Sadly, as soon as I returned to work, my friend then had to take some time off due to a family situation,
so I've kept the display idea intact 
and added a pair of wood spools to the set to add more display area...
They hold assorted red, white, and blue home decor items and a few fashion items.
We simply refresh the display by adding new items as they come in.

The front window on the other side of the store holds all fashion items in the same palette and theme:
...but we're both back at work now, and getting ready to change it up again :)

We'll be pulling in a 'faux' bed & headboard to show off some nautical linens
and more red, white and blue home decor elements.
The window on the other side will be re-focused on fashion...
June 22: Mission Accomplished:
 Above: the Right window, formerly filled with staging platforms and fashion,
now displays a 'bed short' (a table made up as a bed) to feature home decor.

Above: The Left window focus is still fashion and entertaining...
The stacked wood spools have been removed, replaced by a table setup
that features merchandise for entertaining.
We re-dressed the mannequins and hangers in the other half of the window,
after shifting the position of the backdrop by a foot.

This mid-summer change helps us make the windows look fresh and exciting to customers
while sticking to our seasonal VM plan - saving time and labor.

Selecting a general theme and a seasonal color palette is what works for us in this resale store.
The choice of a patriotic palette for summertime is easy, and draws customers like flies.

Displays with bright beach-y colors and themes would work well, too!
Find more of my posts with 
Red, White and Blue display inspiration:



and on my Pinterest boards linked in the sidebar

#WhatsInYOURWindows this summer?
share your display photos and join the conversation on my facebook page!

Retail Display is 'Painting a Picture'

Over the past several years, I've scaled back my freelance work
in order to contribute to two companies that I have been very honored to work with...
One of them is Laura's House, an organization in South Orange County, California
that just celebrated 20 years in business.
Laura's House provides shelter, housing, counseling, legal aid, and assistance in many forms 
for families dealing with Domestic Violence and Abuse,
and money to fund those programs comes largely from the sale of donated goods at two resale stores.

The merchandise donated and sold indicates a boutique consignment shopping experience
far more than it does a 'thrift store'... 
so I've been working hard for nearly a year to elevate the presentation and visual experience in the stores
to assist our company in getting the most value possible for our cause...
AND to elevate the customer shopping experience.
Retail Visual Merchandising can do that! 
It's an art....
and I've always described what I do as a visual stylist in this way:
"I create still life paintings using dimensional objects instead of paint or pastels."
This particular display brought together that art with actual fine art.

Early this spring, the store received a very generous donation of floral art from a donor...
so I created a window display featuring the art itself,
 along with elements that continued the 'floral' and 'art' concepts:
an easel, a dropcloth, and a mannequin wearing a 'painters' smock' and holding a paintbrush
and various papers and decor elements with floral motifs.
There was also a whimsical touch of silk flowers bursting from the mannequin's head,
indicating that the 'artist' had 'flowers on the brain'.
Whimsy is ALWAYS welcome in my display creations!

The art was hung on the BACK of a tall armoire (the doors of it faced into the store) 
which served to lift it up to a viewing height in the window.
 Underneath the artwork, there are sheets of scrapbook paper with floral designs - 
so that when a painting sold, there was not a huge gaping hole in the composition.

Preparing for products in the display to be removed was and IS an important part of this display -
in the case of a store like this,  where every single item is 'one of a kind' rather than ordered in quantity,
I have to plan for what the display will 'morph' into - because it can't be changed every other day.

In our stores, the display 'set' itself is created and installed based on our annual VM plan,
then as items sell, we refill it as much as possible with 'like' merchandise.
(Hard, when you don't know what will be donated... but easy, when you base it on color and theme!)
 Each window display theme lasts for a two to four week period...
the display remains fresh because products change, but the theme remains similar.
This is an effective strategy for any store's window displays...

What can you create as a 'set' in YOUR windows this summer?
A beach scene? A picnic at the park? 
A county fair or carnival? A camping scene?
Create the backdrop, then fill with merchandise that supports your theme and color palette -
and then look for ways to keep it fresh over the next month or two!

Coming up next: Red, White, and Blue display inspiration!