Q&A: Choosing a Booth Location


I recently received this comment from reader Connie: 

Hi Debi, I love your site and refer to it often! I have a little question... 

I have a shop inside a large community shop and right now I have the "first" booth right behind the register person, I sell lots of jewelry and blingy things, and it has 3 walls and is approx. 8'x14', a good size, but I have the opportunity to take a little bit smaller space for the same price, but with only one wall and its a window booth at the very front of the store. I think it would be a prime booth, but my hubby says I won't sell anything out of a window booth, because people will think its only for display, but I think it would look fuller, since its smaller and I would have 24/7 advertising. 

What do you say? I'm so anxious for an answer. 
Thanks! Connie 

I thought this was a great question, and that many other people could benefit from this information... so, I'd like to present some factors that Connie should consider as she is choosing whether or not to move to this new location in her antique mall.
Connie, I'm curious as to whether this window booth is on the right or left of the entry, and where the cash wrap / register in the store is located? Both of those factors will contribute to the success or failure of sales in the new location. Here's why:

As 'retail anthropologist' Paco Underhill found out, most shoppers will turn RIGHT when they enter a doorway. This is simply natural instinct and behavior! So, in a store, anything located on the right side is seen first. This may seem like a great thing - but it's possible that customers will simply look as they walk past and further into the store space. Have you ever thought to yourself 'Well, that's nice.... but I want to wait and see what else they have in the rest of the store before I decide on anything here?' This is a possible response that a space in the right-side window will get. Your husband has a point, by the way (I'm sorry to say that, I really am!!!) - many people are used to hearing that what's in the window is props, not merchandise. They may not even ask to buy it.

Now, a space located on the LEFT side of the doorway has positives & negatives, too. If the cash wrap/ register is located next to or across from your space, you have the remarkable opportunity to capture the attention of those waiting in line. (And this works - just think about the grocery store!) But if the register is located further back in the store space, customers may not wander all the way forward before stopping to pay for their selections. And after having paid already, most won't choose an item near the door and return to pay for it. Again, this is just natural behavior for most people, not all.

There is a concept in retail store design called 'The Decompression Zone'.
This refers to the area immediately inside the entrance (ANY entrance) of a store. There needs to be empty space here, so customers can step inside, remove coats, close umbrellas, take a breath, and see the layout of the store before proceeding in. If this area is crowded with 'stuff' or the booths immediately inside the door are encroaching on the aisles, there is an immediate feeling of discomfort for customers and can cause them to hurry past the first few displays or booths. If you notice this about the store you are in, and your booth is in the front right corner, make sure you are leaving room to breathe at your space entrance... don't crowd it with fixtures or merchandise. Create an open, welcoming space that will help ease customers into the store - and they'll be more likely to step into your area first.

Another facet of this new location that you should consider is the comfort factor:
It's a window, and Spring & Summer are coming. Does the window face South or West? Will there be hours during the day that your space is in glaring sunlight - making it hard to see your jewelry & smalls - and will it be unbearably HOT in that area? Next winter, will it be freezing? Customers will avoid it if they are uncomfortable there, no matter how wonderful your product & displays are.

And lastly, placing small items - especially jewelry - near an entrance is an invitation to thieves. Sadly, they are everywhere (from elderly women on a budget to teens getting thrills), and it doesn't take them but a minute to load up their pockets and disappear. Having sparkly eye-catching items within easy reach of the door really increases your risk for merchandise loss and you WILL be hit by it. If the register is located a fair distance from this space, or if the space cannot clearly be seen by the cashier, your risk increases.

Connie, I hope I have given you some information that will help you make an educated decision about the location of your booth. If you choose to stay in your present location, there are many ways to make a non-frontage booth stand out amongst the competition... if I may, I suggest that you read my info on Successful Show Booth Design Tips, which is all translatable to antique mall spaces. 

Also, make sure you read a new and effective resource: 
(pictured at top of post)
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is a new e-book available on Kindle through Amazon 
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It's just $9.95


Thank you for your question, Connie!

5 comments:

  1. Thank you so much Debi for answering my question, however I'm still undecided. The window booth I'm looking at is on the left side of the entry, its on the southeast side facing the northeast and the register is right next to it on the west side. I did think about the light factor, because I do have some clothing items, but they can be far enough back to not be in the direct light. the only direct light is on the tiny 12 in corner of the northeast edge, I've been watching that for several months now, because I have been eyeing this booth for several months and have been waiting for it to become available, now that it can be mine, I've got some indecisions about it. Hubby says he'll pay for me to keep both booths for a few months and see how I do in each, and then decide if I want to keep one or the other, but I don't really have enough inventory to fill both booths. I just don't know. Again, thank you soooooo much for responding to my question. I really appreciate it more than you know. Connie

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  2. It IS a dilemma, Connie! Please let me know what you decide to do and how it works out. I know many readers will be interested to hear!

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  3. Hi Debi, I wanted to let you know that I decided to take the window booth and it has been a great success! I've only been in it for 3 weeks now and I've had my best month financially so far! My window booth looks fantastic and I work there one day a week and I can see people drive by and take double looks at the window and then they will turn around and park and come in the store. My boss said that lots of people come up to the window and look inside and then they end up coming inside and they go straight into my booth. I keep the lights on 24/7 and it looks beautiful at nite. I've tripled my sales this month so far and my husband even said he had to eat his words. He was so against me moving into the window booth up to the last minute, but after I got finished decorating and getting everything in its place, he was amazed. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom, I'm so happy I moved.

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  4. Connie, thank you so much for sharing your success story with us!

    You have hit on a few VERY important points about selling in a window space:

    Keeping the lights on 24/7 is so VERY necessary. With exterior glare on the windows, light is needed to make products & displays POP - ESPECIALLY in the daytime! Most people under-light their windows. Sure, they may save ten bucks a month on their power bill - but it's costing them hundreds of dollars in SALES!

    And at night, after the store is closed, windows act as a constant 'ad' for your store to potential customers walking or driving by. Smart retailers USE that space and visibility to their advantage - way to go!

    Another tip to making this square footage work hard for you: Post your store HOURS and your WEB SITE (or blog or facebook Page) on your windows & door! Customers can plan to return when you are open ONLY if they know when that IS!

    I also like that you mentioned your schedule. Since you work in the store one day a week, you can not only keep an eye on customer response & traffic patterns (good info to have!) but you can also make sure your space is well-stocked, clean, and visually appealing. (We all know how FAST displays get mussed!) Excellent way to keep on top of your business. Too many dealers 'set it and forget it' - and it shows. :(

    And of course, being a woman, I just think it's fabulous that you got to prove your hubby wrong! LOL

    Much continued success to you!

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  5. Hi Debi, I've enjoyed following your blog and thought I'd get your take on my problem. We have two booths in a local, successful antique mall. The booths are across the aisle from each other and to the left of the entrance - 2nd space from the register. One is 8x10 and I've tried to make it a boutique look booth, with items that appeal to women. Linens, baby clothes, jewelry etc. The other is 11x4 and I've used it as a traditional antique/vintage booth, and things that appeal to men.

    Two booths are a lot of work to maintain - especially since they have different merchandise and I'm thinking of giving one up. I like the deep, pretty one but am only allowed one lamp and it feels dark to me. The other that is wide and narrow is very light but I'm worried I won't have space to display much. I have an old sideboard I use to display all sorts of items and I'd like to keep it. I'm really frustrated as I have as many pros as cons on each booth. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks so much!

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my take on retail visual design:

"The thing is, retail design is driven by psychology. It is by manipulating space, visuals, lighting, sound, smell, and mood that we influence customers to enter, stay, browse, buy, and return. It is an endless exercise in change, endurance, growth, education, and imagination that enables retailers to stay on top of their game and at the forefront of their customer's minds. Yes, what you sell IS important - but even the very best merchandise won't sell at full price if it's presented in torn boxes on dirty shelves in a store that is too crowded to turn around in. Visual impact is a huge part of business, and utilizing the principles that have been proven to work can help you build a better business." ~ DWK