Visual Journey: Boston’s Newbury Street

Boston’s Newbury Street is a nostalgic place for this former New Englander and visual merchandiser to roam and I never pass up a chance to visit. On a recent trip east to spend time with family, I took a day to research what these fashion-forward retailers are doing to attract attention and to find inspiration.

For those who haven’t had the good fortune to visit this area of Boston, the street is lined with brownstones with retailers on street level, below street level and walk ups so the ability to call to passer’s by with good merchandising mojo for many of them is critical to foot traffic.

Below is an assortment of windows and interiors that I found compelling with a few words on why. Elements like color, texture, and mannequin style mixed with a few surprises keep windows the way they are meant to be: Magical and seductive.


Outrageous and on brand: Dolce and Gabbana. Funky and unusual details make a statement and the shoes set in a bed of flowers can’t help but grab attention and create curiosity.


Marc Jacobs seduces pedestrians with a simple color scheme — mannequins wearing the same dress in different colors and just you know, kicking back.


Woolrich is a brand this outdoor retail merchandiser is quite familiar with, and the brand understands how to communicate to the upscale shopper on Newbury Street who expects an experience. Heritage is clear, but the clarity in the merchandising has an eye to style.


Woolrich bays curated displays reflect the merchandise assortment below. I was tempted to try on that blue jacket but had to remind myself this was just about the research!


Hardware stores that have fun with their merchandising are savvy retailers and have the power to pull consumers away from big box competitors with their specialty themes. The gold repeat was an attention getter thanks to the variance of textures and height.


This trip introduced me to Muji and I fell in love with their merchandising style. Here, the travel display spelled out what accessories to consider for a trip and what to expect to find on the wall. No boring signage necessary here!


This image and the one below demonstrate how movement of simple hanging product can call attention to product. Pens above a table set with pens and journals, sneakers floating next to casual wear. The Muji experience was one of exploration and intrigue.



Color repeat in the form of fruit? Why not? The background grabbed attention, added texture and helped the clothing on the mannequin stand out. Alice and Olivia


Mannequins with attitude will always draw attention, especially when one is dashingly dressed in red while the others sport more neutral tones. Chanel

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Slow down and make a plan

I’m already in the midst of a busy summer with a full client list and lots of exciting work projects, and know that the difference between a runaway train and being the driver of my own train is having a plan. Having a plan is especially valuable to anyone in charge of visual merchandising details in their store.

Having a plan provides you with the ability to remain a few steps ahead and perhaps even more importantly, communicate your goals and desired outcome with your team. This communication insures everyone has a chance to be on the same page.

Simple steps to putting together a merchandising schedule:

  • Use a calendar to plot when you anticipate changing your windows and front of store. Be sure to think of promotions, community events, major sales and write them down.
  • Identify what story you anticipate telling with each event and indulge in some blue sky thinking about props, potential partners in addition to in-store merchandising.
  • Roughly sketch out the layout keeping in mind the following:
    • Theme
    • Purpose
    • Lighting
    • Color
    • Seasonal elements
    • Depth of display
    • Height variations
  • Get your team involved! Maybe even involve your customers!

You might spend more time on the front end when you plan a few months or a month out, but the time you will save is priceless. And you deserve that.


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Talking about Visual Merchandising at Outdoor Retailer

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Outdoor Retailer Winter Market – Tour Stop #Two


United by Blue never fails to do something different in their booth and because of this, the the brand is a regular stop for the visual merchandising tours at Outdoor Retailer. While they don’t create a brand new booth with each show, they do change things up regularly. Ralph was added to announce their Bison line and you couldn’t miss him. Go big or go home! Always shake things up—don’t get lazy. Read Seth Godin’s “The Purple Cow” to understand why!

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Outdoor Retailer Stop #One: Mannequins and Color


Merchandising Matters recently returned from leading visual merchandising tours at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City. Not there? No worries! Over the next few weeks, tour stops will be spotlighted here one by one with a brief paragraph explaining what caused the pause. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or want to chat.

Greneker mannequin display is held together here by a simple color story, black, white and the pop of red. Color helps differentiate mannequin styles and merchandise, sets the tone (this one is high energy) and creates clarity. Be sure you have a color strategy in display and product placement to clarify your merchandise messaging if you want to add impact.

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Best Practices for the Outdoor Retailer Manual — On Sale Now!

Visual Merchandising Best Practices For The Outdoor Retailer

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New Program: 2017 Merchandising Matters Membership begins 1/25/17

Visual merchandising knowledge can directly impact your bottom line and improve sales across all categories. Confidence in product placement and understanding of best practices also leads to a more satisfied team because they know what to do. Just as important is how the development and execution of a solid visual merchandising strategy, saves time, leads to the creation of community and provides excellent customer service.

The Merchandising Matters Membership is a new platform for your retail environment to receive training in best practices so that your team stops spinning and to share ideas with colleagues. This innovative membership has been developed for retail store managers, store visual merchandisers, and sales team members as a tool to strengthen your visual merchandising skill set.

This membership requires a 12 month commitment, will be limited to 15 retailers and for just $150/month will offer the following:

  • “Visual Merchandising Manual for Outdoor Retailers”
  • Monthly training webinars that align with the following key topics in the manual:
    • Laying the Foundation: Who you are and why you do what you do
    • Consumer Psychology and your Target Audience
    • Developing a Visual Merchandising Strategy
    • The Big Picture: Store Layout, Mapping, Selling Mode and Event Planning
    • The Details: Merchandising Best Practices for Walls, Fixtures, Tables
    • Visual Merchandising Elements: Involving all the senses
    • Display: Windows, Front of Store, Front of Department
    • Cross Merchandising and Add-on Sales
    • Training Exercises for Team Involvement
  • Monthly membership meetings to seek solutions and share strategy and learn from one another
  • Private Facebook page for interaction among members in between meetings and to create visual merchandising community
  • Monthly 1:1 meetings so that members can receive individual feedback on their visual merchandising programs
  • Access to images and photographs sent to membership as examples of best practices so that members have visual examples

The investment for this membership is just $1800 for an entire year of training. Registered retailers can include up to 2 team members in group meetings. Webinars will be recorded and made available for viewing by your team on your own schedule. Monthly membership meetings will be held the final Wednesday of every month at 9 a.m. MT.  Membership runs from 1/25/17-12/27/17. Sign up here.

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Training Webinars: Power up your Holiday Visual Merchandising!

The retail holiday season can feel like a runaway train once it starts and for many stores, the visual merchandising strategy is relegated to “pile it high and watch it fly.” Time is tight and developing a strategy can feel overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sure where to start. These three webinars, developed specifically for outdoor retailers, will provide your team with immediately executable skills and solid direction on display areas, cross merchandising and gift groupings, and event planning so that you move more merchandise while providing a positive in-store experience for your customers. Webinar attendees will also receive 20% off a visual merchandising assessment to continue their learning. Investment: $49.99 for all three sessions. Space is limited, so hurry up and sign up here!

Master the following in three separate meetings:

1 – Windows, Front of Department & Front of Store: Wednesday October 26, 2016

Your window, Front of Department (FOD) and Front of Store (FOS) displays can be a powerful draw especially during the holidays. Windows, FOD and FOS act together, like a headline to a magazine article does, to invite the consumer into your store and departments by hinting at what they will find inside. There are some simple visual merchandising tricks to make the development of themes easier to execute and for changing them frequently. How to create a plan for your individual store will also be discussed. This session will be highly visual and will lead you through these tricks so you leave the webinar ready to attack your windows!

2 – Gift Groupings and Cross Merchandising: Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A wonderful way to make your environment the go-to-place for buying holiday gifts is to provide ideas for the perfect presents. Placing gift groupings with merchandise from multiple departments in your store’s hot spots (we’ll talk about this too) is a wonderful visual cue for your customers. Some well thought-out cross merchandising can serve to spur sales of items that alone might not be so sexy, but that when placed with other products becomes a highly desired gift. This interactive workshop will make sure you are ready to roll with these effective tips!

3 – Engaging with Events: Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Today’s retail environment does more than sell merchandise–savvy retailers know the value of creating experiences for their shoppers. Experiences tap into our limbic brain which is where emotion lives and we tend to remember experiences more than a list of facts. And events are experiences! This session will explore how to plan simple events for your particular audience as well as explore ideas for these events. Attendees will leave this webinar with one event planned and ready to be implemented.

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Visual Merchandising Tours: Outdoor Retailer Summer 2016

Outdoor Retailer is a feast for the eyes for anyone who wants a concentrated glimpse into what makes a brand jump off the page and come to life. This August I had the honor of leading the Visual Merchandising Tours on behalf of the show and the theme was: Storytelling. Engagement. Creating an Experience. Creating a following.

Each tour visited between 8-11 booths and ended with a Q&A session in the Retailer Lounge. After the final tour, a winner was chosen for a Visual Merchandising Assessment and the winner was Trailhead Paddle Shack! I’ll document our assessment journey in the coming months, so be sure to follow along.

The challenge at the show was making choices that presented a variety of styles and ideas so that participants would appreciate the value in being authentic and identify with the differing personality of brands. Not an easy task when at Outdoor Retailer, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

Where we stopped and why:


PopticalsThis brand is in love with lime green which is a great ‘pop’ color and one that gets attention and truth be told that was what first captured my eye. But then I was surprised by the enormous Razor on the aisle and a booth employee said, “I bet you want to take that for a ride,” to which I laughed. We began a conversation and I was provided an opportunity to learn more about the brand.

Takeaway: Consider a ‘lead in’ pop to surprise visitors and attract the attention of passer’s by. The Razor was there as a conversation starter, a tool to capture the attention along with the bright green. It worked. But beware: There is a downside, and that is that instead of attention being focused on your product, the attention might go to something you don’t sell. Surprises are wonderful attention getters, just be sure they make sense.



United by Blue: This stop was in celebration of the UBB brand evolution as well as their continued seamlessness in the visual merchandising and messaging of their story. United by Blue, committed to cleaning up our nation’s waterways continues to stay true to their story and their ‘why’ for being in business. The booth is the ‘outdoors indoors’ with signage that layers upon their clean-up story paired with products that support their mission. Mulch, grass, an abundance of plants and trees, all contribute to tell a story that communicates the love UBB has for the planet.

Takeaway: Know your mission and story and remain true to it, even as you grow. Include the outdoors in your indoor merchandising to help us ‘feel’ the story you are telling. Let our limbic brain get cozy with who you are so we can become fervent supporters.


Osprey: Packs can be unwieldy at best for a first time novice and usually they are arranged on a wall where it can be challenging to differentiate what pack will best meet the needs of the consumer. Things like suspension and ventilation are important attributes,  but when pack stories are told, the product becomes relatable to our individual experience.  Osprey’s shares their product attributes with simple language accompanied with one pack that can be easily explored. The creme de la creme is the reference to well-known local trails that makes the connection tangible and engaging.

Takeaway: Distill the messaging on your products and spotlight one or two or three to simplify the choices for your customers and provide them with a little information so that they can interact with your sales staff in a knowledgeable way. Add a local reference that defines how the product you chose might be used to simplify understanding and merchandise attributes.


Patagonia: A company that uses the words environmental and social responsibility and backs up their story with real life, tangible marketing and merchandising messaging. The Worn Wear mobile is Patagonia’s warranty policy on wheels. Combined with the messaging on the booth exterior wheels, their messaging is both bold and reflective of their brand story.

Takeaway: Don’t be half-assed or inauthentic. If your brand is built on a mission or foundation, be bold and let that story shine in everything from what message you provide on your walls to how you interact with consumers and demonstrate this mission in your actions. Empower your storytelling with story doing.


Gramicci: Digital technology is often used for providing product information, end use, technological education, etc., but in this case the screen invites us to join in a story of nostalgia. Grainy images reminiscent of a 16mm set to music while children plan with their father outside invokes emotion, a powerful tug at the limbic system of the consumer. The screen is surrounded by children’s product hung on a wall, the simple shorts many of us wore for our very first hike.

Takeaway:  Consider using technology to tell your story, or the story of your vision/mission and team without ‘selling.’ Let your shoppers engage on an emotional level with who you are and what matters to you.


Canada Goose: Canada Goose is known for luxury outerwear and their booth reflects this high end story. Product is shown in a curated style and allowed plenty of room to breathe in a minimalist style.

Takeaway: Give YOUR high-end merchandise room to breathe and make sure it isn’t stuffed on a fixture arm or shoved on to a shelve and covered in dust. Luxury or high end products require merchandising that reflects the price point.


NRS: This new booth takes some of the mystery out of paddling and especially dry bags for the novice water sports participant. Dry bags that are stuffed and placed on shelves so that customers can eye the difference in size versus being reliant on trying to visualize what size they need combined with letting color generate an invitation are great merchandising decisions for a category that can be unwieldy at retail. The only negative? NRS is 100% company owned and that cool company story is not shared.

Takeaway: Take merchandise out of the box or package and let your customers touch and feel it. And let your brand story be known!


Vibram: This booth exudes a fun vibe and playful invitation to come on in by using vibrant colors, a steep incline to test out the sticky soles and soles stuck to the walls which serve as art.

Takeaway: Provide a way to test your merchandise and have fun with product placement. Be unafraid to create a surprise (and a smile) especially if you are working with fun wares.


Sole: Games are a wonderful way to engage your shoppers in an experience with YOU. This cork wall allowed interaction with the cork story of Sole’s footwear in an engaging way. Marketing kudos also needs to go to Sole for all the messaging in the restrooms throughout Salt Palace about their brand. It would be impossible to leave OR without hearing about SOLE (unless you never used the restroom).

Takeaway: Have some fun with your customers–don’t be afraid to play a game. Events are the lifeblood of today’s retailers because events create experiences. Create an experience!


Yeti: If your story is “Built for the wild” then your merchandising should include a bit of the wild in it’s storytelling, yes? Yeti creates an exterior wall that looks like it could be the shed wall of a mountain cabin and even cooler, does a little cross-merchandising by showing merchandise they don’t sell to create a more authentic story and suggest uses for their coolers. A television screen mounted in the sawed off portion of an old truck bed adds to the wild detailing.

Takeaway: Tell a well-rounded story in your merchandising and consider partnering with other brands or retailers when you develop stories so you can help one another out and even better? Create community.


Timex: How do you layer your marketing and merchandising with simplicity? With the introduction of their Simplest GPS Watch Ever, Timex had some fun with their booth, choosing cardboard materials to tell the simplicity story. The cardboard is utilized in product packaging, wraps itself around brochures and was used to make tables, chairs, even the vase and flowers.

Takeaway: Let your story be told in the details you use! Do you have a sense of humor? Are you devoted to a particular hiking area? Find your bliss in the water? Want to get to know your customers? Identify and use details that support this story. Let your customers know who you are.

This is just a sample of the magic I shared with tour participants, stay tuned for more images in the next few months, and I hope you’ll join me at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2017 to get in on the fun (But be sure to sign up early, the tours were fully booked a few weeks before the show!)


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Words on developing creativity by feeding inspiration at Outdoor Retailer

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