Byline: A.R.

“Props for Pennies” was the theme for the Atlanta Market visual display seminar held at the January market. Speaker Lynne D. Schwabe, a 16-year vice president of Schwabe May Inc., a specialty store in Charleston, W.Va., coached and energized buyers, convincing them that good visual merchandising is a must in today’s competitive market.
Schwabe urged the idea of different: “Good merchandising is what you do after you do what everybody else has already done.” The key to getting people’s attention is to create great eye-catching displays, whether you use 100 golf balls to cover your flooring or used-car parts.
Schwabe also stressed that good visual merchandising serves a dual purpose. “Deciding what to buy is the customer’s biggest problem. Visual merchandising is the answer to that problem.”
The key concept was borrowing, for example, tablewear from a local restaurant or gardening tools from a nearby plant nursery. Borrowing is also cheap and it can open new visual doors.
America has changed from the “just looking” era, when shopping was a form of entertainment, to the era of selling experience. Customers want their merchandise to do something for them, while being quick and accessible.
“Whatever you do, do it big and surprise them,” said Schwabe. “Customers no longer acknowledge the legendary ‘big sale’ sign.”
Schwabe offered up ten quick ways to conjure up a winning window display:
Use blue acetate gel to simulate water in a window.
Rice, coffee beans, noodles, moss and wood chips are good ground covers.
Create your own props from foam core and spray paint.
Borrow toys from collectors.
Use a conveyer belt or turntable for movement.
Add color with glitter, sequins, rhinestones and buttons.
Divide space with blinds and shades.
Change the color of basic props with spray paint.
Cover the floor with plastic for quick clean up.
Get rid of indentations in ground covers such as sand with a hair dryer.