Here is another great article by retail design specialist Linda Cahan:
What is the prime form of display along many main streets? Often it’s a lonely garment hanging limply in a window – which often sums up the level of imagination of many small stores. To get more bang for your buck use props to draw attention to your window and interior displays. What kind of props and where to get them is the subject of this article.
First, you don’t want your props to overwhelm your merchandise – the point is to enhance, not hide the attributes of your selection. After picking out the merchandise you want to display, look at the selection and decide what it suggests to you. Clothing suggests different things by its fabric, end use, lifestyle, and attitude. Each of these things can influence prop selection.
One way to discover great props is at tag or garage sales…. old mantle pieces, empty frames, garden equipment that can be painted in bright or neutral colors- in fact anything can be painted to look sculptural. Imagine a pyramid of shoes, hot glued together and painted black or white… as a buildup for other shoes or accessories. Old books, typewriters, bicycles, any sports equipment, you name it… can make an interesting prop.
Antique signs or photographs look interesting with retro looks. These are called “found object props” and outside of tag sales, you may find all sorts of things in basements, attics, on the street, or in flea markets.
Your local hardware store is a goldmine of props. Think about all the potential uses for clothesline, buckets, ladders, nails and wood, utility lights, tiles, terra cotta pots, brooms, snow shovels, etc. A Connecticut furrier recently put in windows that complimented his ads. The signs said “A Blizzard of a Sale!” and each mannequin held a child’s red snow shovel at a different angle. The shovels had some fake snow (available in Christmas stores) hanging off them onto the floor.
Consider borrowing props from your neighbors. Antique stores are often very amenable to loaning interesting pieces when they are given a nicely written credit in your window. The credit need not be huge – a 3”x5” card on a little stand will do the trick as long as it isn’t hidden!
Many other stores will loan merchandise for window credits. Consider unusual sporting goods such as rafts, tents, archery, croquet, golf, racquetball or polo. A boating store may loan you a sunfish or rowboat if your window is really large. Hint… don’t just measure your window but also measure the path to the window for any oversized props.
An unusual prop idea for casual sports clothing is the use of bright red and yellow lawn mowers. Try a fencing company for colorful fences or a local florist for beautiful dried flower arrangements or wreaths. A credit can go a long way… they are getting extra window attention and appreciation from a whole new customer base.
Using your merchandise as a prop can also work only if your hangers, buildups, forms and mannequins are interesting. Avoid at all costs the dreaded “draped and dead in the window” look. If you have interesting shopping bags, they can be stuffed and used in rows for a repetitive look or arranged into a pyramid. Messages can come out of the bags to advertise a sale or specials.
The photos in this blog are of fabulous windows favorite visual display specialist ChadMichael Morrisette of West Hollywood.