Looking up.

I’ve always been a fan of getting every inch of selling space I can from my store. The more space I have, the more I can sell. Please don’t mistake this theory for “I’m going to jam pack my store with loads of stuff”.

There is a huge difference. Please let me explain myself.

You see, it’s important to understand that display area isn’t just what fits on a table or shelf. It’s everywhere, even the ceiling. Most people believe the space above our heads is not selling space. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is where the magic happens! When a customers feels surrounded by visual beauty, they go to a state of mind where everything looks like something they can’t live without.

My job as independent retailer is to visually excite my customers. This is what makes us so different than the big box stores.  Even Target knows this. Have you seen their recent commercials about bringing boutiques in their stores? They want that experience that we can deliver in our small stores. Here’s a link that explains what they are trying to do.

I guess my point is that  you can easily line up these Lavender bath and body products on a shelf. Yes, your customer who loves Mangiacotti shea butter lotions, hand soaps and candles will seek them out in your store and eventually find them.  But if you tried integrating them into a display that uses theme, color and yes, lots of height,  it’s easy for all the products on this display to get noticed immediately. This display reaches to 15′ in height and it’s done by simply stacking objects on top of each other. Cross-merchandising will always increase sales if it done in a way that makes visual sense, so why not give it a try?

The good news here is that from an economy standpoint, things are finally starting to look up, won’t you consider doing the same?



Halloween candy. It’s a retail trick and treat.

Ah, chocolate. What gal can’t resist the velvety texture of a peanut butter cup enveloping her mouth. Besides, peanuts are a great source of protein and chocolate contains milk, a great source of calcium. Oh, how we can rationalize anything if something looks good enough..to eat that is.

Bringing in a few festive treats and creating a “grown-up” Halloween treat area is a great way to boost sales. Some of the items I like to bring in our reasonably priced $2- $3 items that are not overpackaged. (Nancy’s Candies) Remember, fancy packaging costs money, and this case, you want guilt free purchasing for both your customer’s wallet and their waistline. How many calories can one piece of candy be anyway?

Arranging them in glass jars (Anchor Hocking: $6.99) makes them look more appealing and special. I always throw out the plastic and cardboard displayers and put them on a round table so the customers can also see the Halloween decor that it’s merchandised with. Remember they are being entranced by chocolate, so everything looks good! I also love to hang bats from the ceiling above the table at varying lengths using fishing line. It draws your eye up and yes they will just have to get one of those bats to hang at their house. Keep a basket full of bats nearby for easy access.

So let your customers children have their Snickers and M&M’s from Halloween. Especially those uneventful Dum-dum pops that seem like an awful lot of work to unwrap without much reward. After all, when’s that last time you a great piece of candy and it didn’t put a smile on your face. Just don’t eat all the profits in your store. This of course comes from my daily struggles to keep my hands off those luscious treats.


No green thumb required.

As summer draws near, we are always looking for something bright and cheery to offer our customers. There’s nothing better to bring a store to life than silk flowers. They come in so many shapes and sizes that there are endless possibilities.

My customers just couldn’t get enough of these lovely hydrangeas, peonies and tulips. They are guaranteed to last a long time with terrific antique bottles with “fake” water. It’s amazing how real they look. The perfect size to add to a windowsill, they are as easy on the eyes as they are on the wallet. Priced at from $9-$15, the ladies won’t think twice about grabbing one of these little beauties. You can purchase these at Allstate and Raz.

Displaying them with women’s accessories like scarves and jewelry makes everything look much more appealing.  I use a three-tier wire display to create height. It also allows to me to mass the bottles together in a small space and get the maximum amount of visual impact from them. Putting them in front of a window allows light to pass through the bottles to make the display just shine.

Cheerful beach bags by Sun n’ Sand are perfect to take up the negative space under your tables. The rule of thumb has always been that anything below waist level won’t sell as well. Not true with these bags! Why you ask? It’s because they are very large and colorful. Their graphic patterns just can’t help but get noticed. To really draw my customers eyes downward, you guessed it, I put bunches of flowers that match the bags in them. It’s not only a fun way of displaying the flowers, but it helps draw attention to a space in your store that typically is known as “dead space”.

So consider bringing some flowers in to brighten your store up. Just be sure to leave the watering can for the outdoors.


Have a little baby.

Although most of us have gift shops, baby items are usually a small or forgotten category. I’ve always thought that Spring is a great time to dabble in baby products. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t devote a huge part of my store to this category, but with the pastel colors it merchandises great with all the pinks, yellows and the light blues in the store.

I don’t tend to like things that are cutesy, but I love the items that feel handmade and special when it comes to this category. The trick here is to find items that have sense of whimsy and use not so common baby patterns. I love these bibs from Two’s Company. They are fresh looking and kind of funky. They are also reasonally priced so customers will usually by two. I don’t carry stuffed animals in my store because they just seem to commonplace to me. I would rather bring in something really special with a bit of personality. The dolls and rattles are from a wonderful company called Bla Bla.  I even give them extra points for their name. There are mermaids, frogs and a flower girl to name a few. They have some wonderful finger puppets as well in similar characters so they are a perfect add on item for just $5.

Another customer favorite are the bath mitts for baby. I try to choose ones that coordinate with my other baby items because they merchandise better, therefore sell better together.

Mix in a few children’s items like bracelets and frilly girlie aprons and there you have it, just enough baby to satisfy the even the most discriminating of the ladies.

So no matter what your age, it okay to have a little baby,  just as long as it’s not the one that cries in your store!



Give them stars in their eyes.

Although it seems like the April showers have forgotten it is actually May, summer is right around the corner. It’s the perfect time to get your customers excited about summer and the promise of all those glorious beach days.

I know I am.

I’m so ready for summer that I have already taken inventory of all my flip flops. By the way, how many of you either lose the flip or the flop but never both!  I eagerly anticipate my toes moving freely without the constraints of socks or closed toed shoes, and make sure the toes are ready to be seen naked in public.

Help your customers get ready by making room in your store for some beach inspired items. Whether it’s a fun starfish necklace designed by Elly Preston or some starfish that look so real that you can almost imagine finding them in the sand. These starfish from Two’s Company are actually made of plastic so they won’t  break if someone has an accident and drops it on the floor. It’s so easy to accent lanterns with them to carry the theme throughout your display. The other trick  is to fill the lanterns with white beans or rice and put a candle in them. It protects the bottom of the lantern from wax sticking to it. Your customer’s will LOVE YOU for this tip. It looks really neat too.

You don’t need to have a beach house to transform your home to oceanfront property when you can bring the fragrance Ocean into your land locked dwelling. Whether it’s a natural soy candle, room spray or hand soap, you can almost hear waves crash around you as you delight in it’s fresh clean fragrance.

As you can see, I used just white, pale blue and tan to tie everything together visually. Omit all other color and your display will take on a light and airy feeling. You can add some scarves in the same color palette and see how everything comes together easily.

Can’t you almost feel the sand between your toes?