Reel 'Em In....

I had the pleasure of spending a few days up in the San Juan Islands last week, shopping, browsing, relaxing, visiting with my mom. We are both retail mavens, so our trips anywhere manage to include a tour of the local shopping scene! Check out the sunny skies and charming street scene above. So if your shop is on a street like this, in darling buildings like this, under blue skies like this, in a tourist-draw town like this, well, you may think you can sit back and relax because the customers will beat a path to your door. Alot of people DO think that, even in this town. But a few...well, a few earn bright, shining gold stars for extra effort:

Pelindaba Lavender Farms, Creme Brulee, and Robins' Nest are all shops located in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island in Washington state. Gorgeous setting, an overflow of touristas allllllll summer long. In a word, retail paradise. But these three shops have managed to do the impossible: draw in customers even on rainy winter days, when visitors to the islands are few and far between. How do they do it?
Creme Brulee buys fresh flowers for the shop every week. Usually roses. They put them in a vase on the counter by the register. The previous week's roses get sprinkled outside the door (a few each day) on the steps leading from the sidewalk to the shop. This simple and free touch was what caught my eye and drew me inside. Seriously.

I saw the petals, looked at the window, and made a beeline inside.
Simple, easy, fast, effective. SMART girls! Charming and darling girls, too, and I plan to go back up and do a proper interview of them soon and get photos of the sweet Shabby shop with marvelously lavish displays of body, bath, bed, and baby products, and baubles galore.

Robin's Nest is filled with all things garden and garden style, and they have wisely chosen a Tiffany-box blue as the wall & ceiling color. Seeing it thru the windows pulls you right in the door. When you walk in, it feels like a perfect sunny summer day. The sound of birdsong (not sure if it was a real bird or a cd!) greets you and makes the illusion of being in a garden complete.

Outdoors, Robin's Nest has a fabulous entry with potted plants on pillars framing the door, and arching branches under the eaves hold hanging tealights and other whimsies to draw you closer. You know from the name, the image on the sign, the plants & trees that this is a garden-style shop.
This gentleman was pulling this cart along the sidewalk, stopping at each shop along the way to sell them fresh flowers. What a great idea! Positively an 'old world' touch. How could you not grab a bunch of daffies from him?!

I didn't take photos at Pelandaba Lavender Farms' shop, but I can tell you that this company has got the branding thing DOWN. Incredible color, displays, product mix, information, etc. I was blown away! And the best thing? As you walk near this shop, you can smell the lavender outside. I don't know if they pump it through an exhaust fan or what, but that scent just pulls you like a magnet into the shop! (The scent is not overwhelming inside, either). But what a perfect understanding of how to maximixe the impact of their product...it's all about the relaxing scent, and they utilize it very well. Their farm is located out of town, and there is a shop there too - but in the winter, when the farm is closed, this shop in town gives you a similar experience. I really think these people are marketing geniuses, and they are poised for expansion off-island.

Okay, so, what do all of these shops have in common? They work every inch of space they have outside the front door to grab your attention and pull you in. Sight, sound, smell...they market to your senses, as well as to your emotions, to interest you. They differentiate themselves from others around them by expressing their style all the way out the door. The result? Our impression is 'Well, if they have this much cool stuff outside, I can't wait to see what they have inside!' ... and in we go, buying it hook, line, and sinker!


  1. The one shop that I can very clearly remember shopping while on vacation was a little shop selling homemade soap. They had bubbles blowing from the steps. Talk about a draw!

  2. Bubbles at a soap shop! I love that one! Thanks for visiting and sharing, Marianna...

  3. Thanks for sharing these great shops and their techniques for branding, display and promotion. I love seeling what stores in other parts of the country are doing!

  4. Really great ideas....gets me thinking about what I can do at our doorway!