Going Above & Beyond 'Business'

I just can't stop thinking about this.
And though I had planned to write a post about a different subject this week,
this situation is one that bears sharing and honoring...

Honestly, folks, how many retailers do you know who would open up their stores / showrooms to refugees in their own hard-hit community? How many would allow hundreds of people who are soaking wet and likely covered with dirt and detritus from flood waters to walk on the carpeted floors, and sit and sleep on the brand-new furniture that's for sale? How many would also provide them with food and water?
There are many people reaching out to Texas right now, and it's heartwarming to see. 
But THIS... well... 
Mr. Jim McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, Texas, gets a standing ovation from me, for showing the world why independent 'mom n pop' retailers aren't the 'dying breed' the media likes to make them out to be: By opening his two furniture stores as shelters for displaced residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey, he rises above not just the water, but also the clamor of noise about how business is all about sales technique and merchandising and marketing and gift shows. He's interested in bettering his community and the people in it, as are so many of you. BRAVO, sir!

People like Mr. Jim McIngvale aren't just serving their local communities with actions like this.... they are rebuilding my hope in humanity. God bless you, sir, and all who open their hearts and arms in times like these. I'm learning more from you about how to 'do' business than through any book I've read or course I've taken or podcast or seminar I've listened to, and from businesses I have worked with / for. People like Jim have a lot to teach us. 

See the whole story in this news video

Edited to Add:
I just learned of another Houston-area retailer who is stepping up: 

Retail chain Academy Sports + Outdoors opened its Houston-area stores to rescuers in need of boats, life preservers and other supplies. They have now converted their corporate headquarters into temporary residences for hundreds of police and other emergency responders. As of this morning, they are hosting more than 400 rescue-team members at the corporate campus west of Houston.
 I offer a hearty round of applause and gratitude to this company and its dedicated staff!

See the whole story in
 the Wall Street Journal

I'm not going to endorse any one charity here, 
but I will encourage you to donate in some way to assistance for Texas. 
I'll be donating a portion of my fees as a stylist and photographer for The Vintage Marketplace show,
my project next week, to a charity that is offering assistance to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Fall Display Inspiration

Fall isn't here YET... but it's coming!
If you haven't begun planning and installing your fall merchandise & displays yet,
don't worry - just get to work NOW and get them up by August 1st,
 and you'll grab the segment of shoppers who are just gettin' in the mood!

It's always a good idea to get out of our day-to-day mindset and look ahead. 
Consider it the same thing as watching the weather segment on the news to see the extended forecast - 
we want to know what's coming up, how to plan, what to expect... 

In business, that can mean taking a singular message or concept, 
and creating a visual merchandising plan or an advertising or event plan 
that builds it from month to month or season to season. 
This basically tells your customers what to expect from you in the near future - 
and gives them something to look forward to. 

In retail psychology, it also creates a sense of urgency - a reason to buy NOW: 
'Get this season's products before they are gone, 
and be ready to get the next seasons's hot deals as soon as they release!'
I've rounded up some fall-specific posts from my archives to inspire you:

...just a few of the fall merchandise displays I've created over the years...
Don't forget to check out my seasonal content on social media!
 Pinterest . FacebookInstagram

Scrumptious Summertime Displays!

It's summertime, and it's HOT.
Especially in Las Vegas, where I happened upon this sweet shop inside a resort hotel...
the yumminess visible in the window displays and that ice cream cart at the entrance
had me salivating on first sight.

One look at the happy pastel color palette and focused lighting in these tasty window displays,
and I was heading in the door...
Once inside, and past the ice cream cart at the door,
there were more bright, happy displays on fixtures that really make the products the star.
The space was arranged so well, leaving plenty of room for shopping and lines.
And I am quite certain that there ARE lines here.... it's in a very busy area.
When you get up close to the displays, you see the perfect details of each little treat:
... and I love the way they use 'product appropriate' props, 
like dessert pedestals and cutting boards and cookie jars!

The signage  - at the entry door, on the cash wrap, and in displays - is crisp, clear, and cute:
So here's the kicker, friends.....
Yes, every last deliciously beautiful treat in these photos is SOAP.
They smell as good as they look, too!

Their 'About Us' website page perfectly describes them: (read it, it's AWESOME)

 Nectar Bath Treats strives to create extraordinary products and fun customer experiences.

We take great pleasure in seeing people’s face when seeing our soap

confections for the very first time. The childlike whimsy and surprise of

experiencing a slice of cake that looks and smells like the real thing, 

but is, in fact, a bath & body treat inspires and motivates us to create

exceptionally charming products.

Mission Accomplished!
From branding to visuals to appealing to a wide scope of shoppers in their location,
to providing an island in the center of the store with sinks - so you can TRY the soaps -
there isn't a single thing I'd change. Even the staff was sweet and bubbly - PERFECTION!
This is what you expect to see in a bake shop,
(and honestly if a bake shop looks like this, I applaud them!)
but to see it in a SOAP STORE is astounding. Brilliant concept, through and through.
This company took soap outta' the bathroom and put it in the kitchen 
to make potential customers stop in their tracks  -and to tell their story.

So what's YOUR product? 
How can you create a visual concept and apply it 
 so that your store or booth or website stands out from everyone else doing what you do?

Need help? Let's Talk Shop! email me 
on Amazon and on the Nectar website
(which looks as yummy as their stores, btw)

Hey, Vendors - What's Your Sign?

I have a pet peeve when it comes to the vintage world...
It affects me when I am photographing a show.
It affects me when I am looking for a particular booth.
I see it affecting customers as they shop, and I wonder how many vendors / curators DON'T see it.

But then.... my pet peeve is something that ISN'T seen:
It's missing signage.

Sadly, the lack of a sign in a booth is a very common mistake.
At every show I attend (and that's a LOT), I see several booths without signage.
In photos shared on social media - by shows and even the vendors themselves! - I see it every day.
There have been times I'd love to have contacted the vendor who created such a lovely display, 
but I have no idea who it IS  - because they didn't make a sign with their name on it for their booth.

To quote Nancy Kerrigan, WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY???
Why on Earth would anyone go to all of the trouble of having a booth in a show
and then NOT put their name on a sign in that booth?!
It defies logic. 

Especially when there are more easy ways to create a sign than I can count.
There are difficult ways, too, and that's fine... just make one, for heavens' sake!
Put that baby on your booth wall, hang it from your pop up, stick it on the front of your cash stand!

Here are some incredibly amazing signs that I saw on my recent trip to 
where some of the best vendors / curators in the vintage biz show off their stuff.
Yes, there are still people there who didn't have signs....
but THIS is how the PROs do it: 
Though all of the signs above are neutral in color, they have incredible visual impact.
From scale and lighting, to unique materials and simple construction,
you NOTICE the name of the vendor/curator in the booth as soon as you look at it.

Lisa Souers gathered up all kinds of letters and mounted them to old boards.
Junk Hunks revived marquee letters and lit them with patio lights.
Farm Salvation and FOUND painted on old glass windows.
Storehouse Goods painted on a rusty old windmill part.
Home Sweet Home painted on simple chalkboard panels.
Atelier de Campagne had a scrap of metal laser-cut.
The signs in this image all have color in common, running the gamut of the rainbow
while also presenting the brand of the business in visual form. 
As individual as the people who made them, they speak before customers are even IN the booth.

The Urban Gardener simply painted her biz name over a thrifted framed painting.
American Country Charm ironed letters onto children's denim overalls.
Marigold Vintage used a children's chalkboard.
Apron Strings used a cabinet door. Unexpected Necessities used a headboard.
This Old House painted on old wood planks.
Tailfeathers used blocks painted with letters, topped with birds.

This is basic marketing, folks... just like biz cards and social media accounts,
you need signage in your booth at a show, and in a store. 
Help customers find & remember you!
Help show hosts, photographers, writers promote you through sharing!

So.... to recap, you can use these items to make a sign:
framed paintings . chalkboards . children's clothing items . cutout wood letters . old wood boards
headboards . cabinet doors . old windows . old window screens . an old windmill tail
laser-cut metal scraps . salvaged sign lettering . salvaged marquee letters . salvaged ANYTHING
fabric . paper . posterboard . cardboard . paint . stickers . felt pens . pencils . crayons

here's some of the signage I created for my past vintage business:
 small signs on the cash counter and on the register    .   a flag flying over the booth
 a headboard made into a sign, attached to the fence outside my barn where my shows were held
decals applied to canvas panels that created sides of the booth
a painted kitchen cabinet door that hung from the tent frame
It wasn't hard to make those signs, and I used them for years!

Do YOU have a clever, creative sign for your vintage business?
Share a photo of it on my facebook page!

Coming up next, more great ideas for vendors who have booths...