Q & A : Cash Wraps

Laura Novak is one of my wonderful blog readers, and a simply incredible photographer, designer, and business woman. Visit her site and you'll be impressed, I have no doubt. Laura sent me her question/challenge via email:

HI Debi,
I have been following your blog for a while now – thank you so much for all your great ideas!
If you are looking for more FAQs for your blog, I have a question about custom cash wraps.  I am opening my second retail store in a few months and am ready to splurge on a custom cash wrap/reception area.  The way the space is shaped, it would be a nice greeting for our customers when they walk in the door. Do you have any do's and don'ts for custom cash wraps?  I need to give my contractor some photos of ones I like along with the dimensions and I’m not sure where to start.

Laura, thank you so much for your email. I’d love to help you with this...
I’ve visited your web site and blog, and must say that I am impressed. You clearly know how to present not only your clients but your own business in a visual medium. So, I’d say that tying your retail store cash wrap into your brand is an easy task for you to undertake. I read the following on one of your blog posts, and I have emphasized those portions that led me in the direction I thought of for you:

"[Designer] Vicente [Wolfe] and I talked about ways to create an artful display of those who live in the home as part of a comprehensive design concept. While many family photo displays are sometimes thought of after a room is designed, Vicente encouraged designers to include high-impact custom family photography as room feature during the designing process. Currently what sometimes happens is that family photos are put in a small frame on a mantle or desk simply because they weren't part of the original design concept. It was exciting to hear Vicente's perspective that great opportunities exist for photographers and designers to work together on creating a room that is meaningful and personal to a client by incorporating family images."

My philosophy of design is that every client has their own unique story to tell, and they can do that through every visual medium they use in their environment. Your philosophy of using the art as a touchpoint from the beginning of the design process is a similar approach. [Readers: click HERE to view Laura's LOOKBOOK of ideas for decorating with photography]

The two came together in this idea: Utilize your philosophy of ‘art in the design’, and build your store design and cash wrap using your photographs as a major element. Incorporate photographic imagery into the surfaces by having them embedded in the materials [such as clear acrylic countertop, or etched out of the wood grain on the side panels of the casework].

Bring in the element of your images through carving, etching, embedding
them, or any other method. This concept for customized ‘Imagedesigned Furniture’ [can I copyright that?!] could be utilized in many other applications in your store, as well: cabinet endcaps, lit wall displays, and mirror and window panels that are etched with your imagery. Or, perhaps, the amazing ability to have a television or computer screen embedded in glass to project your images.

Image provided by M. Lavine {thank you, JJ!}

What I see is furniture that functions as more than just a desk, counter, or service area. It’s a facilitator of the art you produce. You are already creating ottomans and wallpaper out of your images – why not furniture? Why not use every facet of the store you are building to support your brand by customizing it? It will reinforce and illustrate the ideas you have for integrating art in room design – a clear picture [pun intended!] for your clients to see.

I hope the information and ideas I have included here get your creative wheels turning, Laura! And I am serious – I’d love the opportunity to work with you to design something amazing. That is, unless you’ve already hired Vicente to do it! ;0)

Thank you for your question, Laura, and for taking time to  read my blog. I appreciate you! Best of luck and congratulations on your second store!

***I sent Laura an email with more specific info about cash wrap configurations for her needs, as well... it just made for a very long post! I'll share the basics of cash wraps here on another day.***

Top Image from Laura Novak's blog, as seen in Philly Magazine 
Lower Image provided by M. Lavine

For more helpful information regarding retail cash wraps, 
visit this terrific post by online business resource Fit Small Business.


  1. Interesting post. Not exactly sure how to understand a cash wrap. Do you have any more posts on the subject?

    1. yes, Tamara, i do! check out this post: http://decodivadebi.blogspot.com/2010/01/q-cash-wraps-101.html

  2. Laura sent me an email that said
    "I have had a crazy day but wanted to write and say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your help! This is awesome... More soon!" I'm happy to help, Laura!

  3. Hi! I know this post is late but I just started reading your blog and it has been very helpful. I am opening a boutique in June and I am having the worst time finding a contemporary,modern cash wrap. The ones that I have seen are just the standard modular brown wraps and it just doesn't fit the image. I live in Dallas, which has a large interior design district but do not know where to start to find a cash wrap that fits my store and vision. Do you have any tips or places I can check to find a cash wrap for my boutique?

    1. Crystal, it's never too late to leave a comment on a post! ;0)
      Look over on my right sidebar... you'll see a category called 'Retail Fixtures'. Check there for manufacturers of furniture pieces that can be used as cash wraps.

      Another idea is to utilize something that wasn't intended to be a fixture... going the modern, contemporary route, can you use a large glass-top table with several metal or laminate file cabinets underneath? Or maybe an all-metal bar-height table, with a laminate or painted wood bookshelf or cabinet underneath? IKEA is a great resource for these kinds of items.

      If you want to go the green route, check your local Craigslist online classifieds for used furnishings or office supplies that you can combine to create an original design that will meet your needs!

  4. Unfortunately ADA regulations govern most design factors for cash wraps. For instance, there needs to be at least 3'-0" length of clear counter @ 3'-0" max height for a wheelchair side approach. Check-writing surface at a certain height is also mandated. The counter in the photo above doesn't look legal under these req's. Shopowners in NYC are getting fined now for violations of ADA laws, and being forced to redesign their cash wraps. An interior designer should be hired to design custom cash wraps in order to make sure all ADA and safety req's are satisfied.

    1. Michelle, thank you for the information. Working with a company that specializes in cash wrap furniture fabrication would be a perfect solution, as they would certainly be up to date on all ADA regulations, as well.