Farm Chicks, a Dollhouse, and Branding

In another chapter of my life story, I was a vendor at vintage shows.
The largest and most well-known show that I participated in was the Farm Chicks
a show with hundreds of vendors held every June in Spokane, Washington...
and a fanatical customer base of thousands of people who'd come across country to shop the show!

I was a Farm Chicks show vendor from 2007 to 2011
and I filmed my six-episode video series there in 2007. 
But I've never been to the show as a SHOPPER... until this year!
It was amazing... it's always amazing! 
There are many reasons why it's called 'The Happiest Show on Earth'!
I loved seeing my friends who are still vendors/curators.
I found a few special things to bring home, and snapped a LOT of photos.

But before I share the beauty of it all,
I wanna' share the BIZNEZ of it all.


Because founder and proprietor Serena Thompson is a branding WHIZ
and I know you can learn a lot from her... 

Every year, Serena selects a theme for the show. This year, it was 'Home Sweet Home'.
The centerpiece of her theme was the imagery of a dollhouse... 
and you can read what it was that inspired her here on the Farm Chicks blog
Serena also selects a color palette - and it's repeated in all of the elements she uses.

For example - the logo and all marketing collateral:
From the postcards to the vendor & guest badges to the show map
and even a photo frame for guests to use on social media, it ALL coordinates.

At every show, the main entrance features a HUGE display that reflects the theme...
I'm gonna' be honest here and say that I expected some big boxes,
assembled and decorated to bring that dollhouse artwork to life.
But nooooooooo, Serena surprised me with her eyepopping creation of BAKERY BOXES!
Read this post on her Farm Chicks blog to find out what inspired her
On the bottom right, you can see the Farm Chicks booth in the entry atrium.
The backdrop of that booth echoes the 'cross stitch sampler' lettering,
and the tables are draped in pastel quilts as they await final merchandise placement.
All of this reflects the qualities of a 'Home Sweet Home' and a dollhouse.

Vendors like the girls at Marigold Vintage and Unexpected Necessities
get into the spirit of the theme, too,
 by incorporating it into their wardrobes, booth displays and products:

The logo merchandise is thoughtfully coordinated with the color scheme, 
and displayed on the quilt-topped tables in groupings prettied up with simple props:
a few pieces of pastel-painted furniture, bright pastel tissue paper, and more
bring the small-scale coffee mug, flat fabric tees and canvas tote bags to life.
The attention to detail here brings the logo to life in living color,
and tells exactly the story that Serena wanted to.
She does this EVERY show! (see more Farm Chicks Show photos here).

There's a huge staff of Farm Chicks and Farm Hunks that help out at the show, too...
hauling purchases out to customer's cars and straightening displays... all.day.long.
(and how hunky do those guys have to be to be okay with wearing PINK tees, huh?!)
I've always been impressed with the way Serena brands her show...
I even filmed one segment of my video series in the Farm Chicks booth in 2007,
and discussed branding with her and Teri Edwards, her biz partner at the time:

Like Serena says in the video, she views the show as one big product
that needs packaging to sell it... branding is IMPORTANT!
Whatever you do, Tell Your Own Story* - 
and tell it with everything visual that you use!
*I've been using this tagline since 2002. And I really mean it!

In my next post, 
I'll share photos of some of the details of successfully merchandised booths that I saw at the show,
and you can see how truly PRO vendors / curators do it!
Until then... 

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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