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Shop Keepers Life: Window Merchandising and How to Create Eye Catching Displays

Shop Keepers Life, an insight into the day to day running of an indie shop.

I thought I'd start this series with a my favourite part of running a shop: Window Merchandising.

Planning and creating our shop windows is one of my favourite things to do, it gives me the opportunity to get creative and playful with stock. I love to inject as much fun as I can into our displays, for example our spring kitchenware window featured starched retro Y front pants on a washing line, it made so many people smile as they passed by and brought people into the shop who would have otherwise walked past. since setting up my Summer windows a few days ago, I've already had people say 'oh I just had to come in, your windows are fab'.

A good shop window has the power to draw footfall into your shop, increase sales as well as brighten peoples days.

Eye catching windows are so incredibly important in retail, they're your chance as a shop keeper to showcase your wares, covey the personality of your shop and catch as many eyes as possible. 

How to plan the perfect windows:

Pick a theme and run with it. Create a story around your newest collection. 

For example, our summer window in the interiors department is a foliage filled jungle theme. It showcases our bestselling felt animal heads and incorporates back to school, as well as tropical themed interiors, a real mix but by grouping in a common theme this helps to create a story and add flow to your display.

Mind maps are fab. This is the best way to start. Look at your stock, find a common theme and let this grow. 

The products that inspired this theme were our animal heads and buildable bugs. From there I collected items from the shop that fitted this feel and managed my buying around this theme too.

I knew that I wanted the SS22 interiors window to have a back to school element so I searched for suitable bags that fitted my jungle theme and incorporated my existing stock into this. Our leopard cushions, rattan hooks, animal rugs and green glassware were all existing stock that we blended in.

Start sketching. Once I know what products I am working with I create a really rough sketch. I do find that I use this as a memory aid more than a set in stone plan. Windows always evolve as you get started so long as you get the bare bones down, (furniture, larger items) the rest can be organic.

Get creative with materials. I used paper party streamers to create a tropical jungle backdrop, I sourced faux monstera leaves from a supplier to fill out the foliage and picked up some AstroTurf and trellis from our local garden centre. The trellis was a great find as it adds texture to the wall and is super practical adding extra hanging space for stock. In the past I've used wool and tulle to create clouds, an umbrella as the sun, cotton skrim for drapes as well as autumnal leaves and pumpkins from a local farm for an autumnal theme. 

Using unique, pre-loved and repurposed items in your window can be a really cheap and effective way to merchandise.

  Summer 22 Tropical Jungle Theme

 

Don't be afraid to go wild. The bolder the better as it will catch more eyes, don't be afraid to be playful and inventive. Use items in unique ways. For our first Christmas window I sourced an inexpensive vintage sideboard and created a chicken wire slope flowing out of the cabinet doors and covered this in baubles, dried seasonal fruits, spices and foliage, the result was a really effective and unique display. I also did something similar with a vintage peacock chair, I gave it a facelift with loads of christmassy foliage, this made a really eyecatching piece in our window.

Our vintage peacock chair given a facelift with faux flowers

Sometimes simple is better. I don't always go wild with my windows, my main displays are spring, summer and winter. I tend to keep our post christmas sale and autumn windows more paired back as they're not on display for long. But just because they're paired back it doesn't mean they're dull. Using a few key pieces and seasonal decor can make a big impact, dried leave, hessian and pumpkins are simple but effective. For our post christmas sale window we asked local artist Catherine Connacher to come along and paint some foliage onto our windows with chalk, we ended up keeping her artwork on the windows with our Spring display as it was so lovely.

Autumn 21, hessian fabric was a great option for adding texture to the floor

My top tips for window dressing:

  1. Find a theme and go with it
  2. Don't be afraid to go wild
  3. Be inventive with materials
  4. Chicken wire is your best friend
  5. Be prepared to loose a few items, sun light bleaching is a real pain. Be cautious with high value furniture items in spring/summer months. 

Window planning can be great fun, a chance to express yourself. But it can also be daunting. That's why I now offer a freelance merchandising and window dressing service to fellow indie businesses, so if you need a wee hand creating eye catching windows get in touch! I love to help and together I'm sure we can create something super special. 

Here are a few of our past windows for some inspiration. 

A paired back boho themed autumn window. Subtle but still beautiful. That's cotton scrim, a really cost effective option for an aged drape.
A playful spring rainy day themed window. This ended up quite tricky to photograph with the chalk art and looked much better in the flesh! Here are my cushion fill clouds and umbrella sun.
Pants! Starched pants, doilies and the odd pink sock draped on a washing line. This theme was spring clean and we incorporated products from our zero waste refill shop to complete the look.

Summer 21. We sourced a vintage styled bath and filled it with spring designs, this was roughly based on a country garden, bike baskets hung on our sliding door backdrop, each filled with books, foliage and trays. The bath also had plastic baubles that were filled with products too, giving the illusion of bubbles in the bath.

Our Christmas window was themed around a boho pastel Christmas. Not too in your face and quite classy. Just wait for Xmas this year, it's going to be quite the opposite of this...theme is glam rock party!

Summer 22 - Colourful Garden Party. I used trellis and astroturf in this window along with faux wisteria that matched our lilac glassware, blankets and bordallo kitchenware range. This helped tie the theme together.

 

When we were closed for lockdown we created a streamer display dedicated to our amazing NHS and all of the key workers who kept us going.

We added some streamers for the Holly Co Shop Small Campaign. Colourful, simple and cheap to do. Perfect for highlighting the event in store.

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