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OVERVIEW If the “eyes are the window to the soul,” then perhaps it follows that the soul of your store should be visible to all eyes through your windows. The purpose of a display window is not to sell; that will happen inside the store. The window’s purpose is to stop, entice and create interest—a sufficiently difficult task. To stop people in their tracks, effective windows require thought and planning in every aspect of their development.
PLACEMENT, SIZE AND SHAPE Jewelry windows should naturally be positioned in the area receiving the greatest flow of prospective traffic. The more people that pass your window, the greater the chance a prospect will stop. Avoid windows in areas that are not conducive to stopping. People will tend to walk right past a jewelerâ€™s window that is situated too close to a major traffic area, such as right at the doors of a mall entrance. Make sure your prospect feels comfortable stopping, and check for other distractions. Windows at busy corners are effective unless the shopper is too busy dodging other people to see your display.
Dramatic architectural detail makes this mall window draw the passers-by attention. The elements inside the window display should be higher to match the impact.
Because jewelry items tend to be small, they are often lost in large windows. Some designers will suggest you avoid windows that are greater than 36 inches wide. Longer windows will succeed if you break up the display areas into differing sections of less than 36 inches. Window displays of a single section wider than 36 inches tend to prompt the customer to shop from the window rather than actually enter the store.
Be sure your window lighting is consistent and without shadows.
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Keep in mind that the purpose of the window is to create interest in your entire selection, not show so much that the customer thinks your window contains your entire selection. Make the viewing window between 18 and 30 inches tall. (The actual interior dimensions will be greater to accommodate the lights, etc.) If you place the floor of your windows at 40 to 42 inches from the floor, the total height of the viewing glass will be between 58 and 72 inches. This is the optimum height for effective windows. If you place the most important piece in the upper center of the window’s viewing area, it will be within a few inches of eye level for your average-height prospect walking by. Exercise care when creating the interior walls and floor of your windows. You’ll probably want to attach signage or trim items to the top, back and walls of the windows. Therefore, plan to line the top and sides of the window box with some wallboard or other semi-soft material that can be easily wrapped in display cloth. Sections of acoustical ceiling panels are another option. Avoid hard materials on the sidewalls that will not allow you to use staples or pins. The floorboards of your windows can be a more durable material such as Masonite™ wrapped in fabric. (See the step-by-step instructions for wrapping floorboards in Chapter 11.) Most likely, the inside height of your windows will be taller than the 10 inches or so of your average showcase. It follows, therefore, that you’ll want These simple display arrangements combine height, trays, indito use some display elements that are taller and vidual elements and colorful trim to make attractive presentations. (Photo courtesy of Presentation Box and Display) of a larger proportion than your regular in-case elements. This is especially true of risers and neckforms. Your risers will each need to be at least 3 to 5 inches tall to create interest in the window through varying elevations. You’ll typically use the risers to build a multilevel platform upon which individual elements holding the merchandise will sit. Pedestals are another excellent way to elevate your merchandise. They are readily available in varying heights up to 6 inches or more.
A clean attractive display works by allowing the merchandise to draw the eye.
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Be careful not to allow your signage to dominate the display
In-case necks will appear undersized in an average window. If you plan to display necklaces or pendants dominantly in your windows, you’ll need a selection of tall “stand-up” necks. With the importance of window displays, they are worth the small additional investment. In-case elements will work well for displaying rings, earrings, bracelets and other individual pieces. They are size-proportionate to the merchandise and readily available. (If the window receives any direct or indirect sunlight, remember to rotate these elements from window to showcase, because the material will tend to fade after repeated exposure.)
MERCHANDISE SELECTION AND WINDOW PURPOSE Your choice of the merchandise you display in your window is naturally dependent on the objective you’ve set for the display. You’ll want to plan your window merchandise selections ahead of time so you can order backstock merchandise for actual sale. Always avoid selling directly from the window. When the customer asks to see a piece of merchandise she saw in the window, have a duplicate in your showcase available that you can more easily show, describe and sell. Retrieving merchandise from the window is both time-consuming and distracting, and if the sale of that exact piece is not made, the piece must be returned to the window, rearranged and straightened. It’s also a good idea to avoid displaying too many pieces in your higher price points, otherwise the casual observer will perceive your store as possibly out of his price range.
These frosted neckforms provide an interesting backdrop for Gold merchandise. The bracelet ramp element on the right should be removed.
There are often security concerns with opening the back of a window while attempting to service your customer. Sometimes prudent loss-prevention procedures are not followed because of the desire to pay attention to the customer. While you are attempting to sell the piece, someone else is helping himself to the inventory. But having backstock in one of your showcases will eliminate this problem. A common objective of retail jewelry windows is to create the impression of a wide selection of merchandise of all types. If this is your goal, then collect an assortment of attractive pieces that shows the
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range of your inventory. Place these pieces in a balanced display inside the window with the key item near the top center of the viewing area. Make the key item the focal point of the display. Because windows are easily changed, experiment with different approaches to your merchandise selection to see what works for your location. And be willing to change as you gain sales result experience.
PLANNING THE WINDOW Effective window themes are the result of thoughtful planning. It’s always best to plan your window display efforts well in advance of their introduction. Themes must be decided early enough to prepare not only the window but merchandise inventory support for the sales that will result. Special display elements and signage must be ordered weeks in advance of need, so plan the window a few weeks or months in advance of installation.
Simple props can add to the windows “story”
A month or so before the window is to be installed, identify the purpose of the window display and develop an appropriate theme. It might correspond with a purchasing event or holiday, or simply tie into a planned advertisement. An example would be a window designed to show 12 pairs of gold earrings in different price points for Mother’s Day. The objective is to convey the impression that the store has gold earrings in every popular price range from $99 to $499. The theme might be “Mom deserves the best on her day.” Brainstorm the components, graphics and trim items that will be necessary to implement the window. Count and confirm the condition of your display components and replace any defective items. Keep signage to a few words to facilitate quick readership by passersby. Plan the window layout by arranging the components you’ve selected in a pleasing pattern that draws attention to the merchandise. When you are satisfied with the result, put together a sketched layout of the final placement of the pieces in the window. Order an appropriate sign to be used as a “night window.” This sign will be placed in the window after store hours to catch the eye of passersby. It should feature the same theme and type of merchandise that your daytime window offers.
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A week or so before your window goes up, gather the components and place them in a box or staging area ready for use. The day before, identify the exact pieces of merchandise to be featured and be certain they are clean and ready for display. Identify backup pieces in case an item is sold at the last minute. Confirm that all lighting in the window operates and that bulbs are functioning well and evenly. On the day of setup, arrive early to ensure time to install the window before store opening. Assemble the tools and supplies, such as a hot-glue gun, string, tape and similar items, and collect the box of elements you assembled previously. Remove the old window components and clean the window area and glass. Then set up the layout in accordance with the map you drew earlier, starting from the front of the display and working back toward you. Avoid placing jewelry too far from reach; rather, make it as easy as possible to retrieve merchandise to show a customer or stow away at night. Turn lights on to evaluate their impact. Once the window is roughly in place, view it from the outside of the store. Take appropriate Crystal pieces are a nice addition to a window. Colorful silk flowsecurity concerns when doing so to avoid al- ers might have increased the impression of elegance. lowing unauthorized access to the store. Check lights, layout, placement, cleanliness and eye flow. Does the window accomplish your objectives? Once you are satisfied, install the merchandise in the window. If you can’t reach an element, it’s likely that your store salespeople won’t be able to reach it, either. Modify your layout as needed to make it functional and add all final signs and trim. Enlist the help of an associate, step outside for a final look, and take your camera. Ask yourself hard questions such as: Does the window work as a unified presentation? Does the merchandise appear desirable? Does your eye follow the desired path throughout the window? Can you see all the merchandise? Are there shadows or dark areas? Does it look the way you thought it would? Can the window be set up and dismantled each day in a reasonable amount of time? If the window is not up to par, look for adjustments that improve the look. If the window is just okay, leave it up for a few days and see if your opinion changes over time. If the window is wonderful, take a moment and identify what you like most about the layout, make notes and keep them in mind when planning the next window. Once the window is ready, take photos for your records and redraw a final map for store employees to use when installing the display each morning. Identify merchandise placement. Use a simple numbering system to identify where each element, riser, trim piece and other component goes. Some people draw these maps to scale on graphed paper. Use your own judgment and sense of the expertise of your staff and complexity of the window to make a workable map. Keep a master copy in your files and place the working copy in the basket or vault tray that will hold the displays at night. Your night window should also be in that basket. Then start considering the theme of the window that will follow.
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Décor or Trim Attractive window design almost always requires some amount of display décor or trim. Trim in this context is defined as those items in a display that do not actually hold jewelry but add to the overall impact or “sense” of the visual presentation. Examples of trim include flowers, decorative vases, sculptures and other similar items. Use of these accents will almost always enhance a window. The key is to use décor of quality and avoid using too much trim or creating distractions. If you want to use toys to create a fun, playful window, use wooden toys and toys of value rather than cheap plastic toys, which can create the wrong impression. Always err on the side of quality. Online auction sources (such as eBay®) and local shops are treasure troves of décor items. Look for antique pieces of local interest to add a special impact to your window, such These columns add an interesting texture to this window. as dated postcards or memorabilia. Sometimes it is easiest to look at the items available and creatively apply them to a reason to do business with your store. Many shop owners are willing to loan out décor items for a month in return for a nominal fee or a small sign in your window thanking them and promoting their store. Always keep on the lookout as you visit other retailers. Look at their windows and draw inspiration from their ideas. Signage The average walk-by window shopper spends less than two seconds glancing at a window display. One hopes the merchandise in a jewelry window will attract the eye, but usually it is a sign that piques their curiosity. The importance of the sign is obvious: It must stop the customer and prompt further investigation. Always keep your window signage to a succinct statement of interest. A maximum of 12 to 15 words is best, although 10 words or less is ideal. Use a readable typeface and place the words in a logical, flowing pattern. There is no time for a reader to stop and contemplate what you are trying to say. Use color liberally to attract attention. Red is often overused, but it is a great attention-grabber. Again, it is good to learn from the successful examples of others. A sign with your store name is a vital part of any window layout. Many walk-by customers are standing too close to the storefront to easily see the overhead sign. So place a quality sign in each window with the store name so they know easily the location they are visiting. Always include a small sign inviting the customer into the store for further investigation. Remember the purpose of a window is to draw the customer inside so a sale can be made. A window is a success if it draws people into the store. The sign should ask for that order with phrases such as “Come
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inside to see our complete collection” or “Many more pieces on display inside.” You don’t want the passerby to think the window display contains your entire assortment. Remember these points when creating the perfect window display: 1. Keep the window in line with your store’s image. 2. Put the most important item in the top center of the display area. 3. D on’t show duplicates of any piece of merchandise in the window, but always have a second piece in the store to show upon request. 4. U se signage to communicate your store name and the primary selling point of the window display. (“Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift? We have lots of choices at great values!”) 5. Avoid overcrowding the display space. Less is more. 6. Use seasonal trim sparingly and never use foils or other highly reflective materials. 7. Use plenty of light and make sure it creates focal points where you want them. 8. Show prices (or broad price ranges) on those items that appear to be good values. 9. C hange your windows as often as your customers pass your storefront. No less often than once a month, no more often than each week.
Window Themes Themes based on holidays or other special days include: Valentine’s Day—Heart-shaped goods Mother’s Day—Rings, earrings Father’s Day—Men’s Graduation—Watches or giftware Christmas—Everything gift-worthy Themes based on the seasons include: Spring—Colored stones Summer—Gold Autumn—Pearls and men’s Winter—Diamonds and platinum Themes that support a local activity: Sports event—Promote sport watches or tennis bracelets. Theater—Use programs or other support literature to sell pearls or diamond jewelry. Themes based on nearby businesses: Restaurants—Arrange merchandise on a menu and table setting. Clothing—Use an assortment of scarves or ties as a backdrop. Travel agency—Promote the foreign source of rubies or diamonds. Toy store or pet shop—Liberal use of stuffed animals and photos Photo studios—Recent wedding or family photos Hardware stores—Tools as decorative props
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Baranger Displays Depict the Rich History of Jewelry Merchandising The art of jewelry display owes a great debt of gratitude to the Baranger Studio group of South Pasadena, California. In the early 1920s, this creative firm, under the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Baranger, created a series of window displays for retail jewelers that captivated the imagination of thousands of customers. During the early to mid 20th century, windows were a critical part of every jewelry retailerâ€™s marketing program. Before malls, the neighborhood jeweler needed something that would stop traffic and invite browsers to enter. Baranger displays accomplished that task very effectively. Initially designed as static window displays, each display had a unique theme that made it a small theatrical set. Early themes included the just-discovered King Tutâ€™s tomb and a Venetian moonlight panorama complete with hand-painted gondola. The panorama used small buoys that held diamond rings on a blue-green velvet canal. One of the most innovative aspects of this highly creative group was its marketing plan. The displays were never sold; they were leased to retailers on a contracted monthly basis. Each retail customer received a new window display every 30 days. Local townspeople came to anticipate a new window display at the store, and it was a constant source of traffic and conversation. Shipments and returned units went by
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Railway Express. If Baranger had more than one customer in a city, different displays were sent to avoid duplication. Upon its return, the display was cleaned up, restored and sent to another customer. The units were so costly to make, repeat use was critical to the firm’s success. By 1937, kinetic motion was added and the displays came alive with mechanical animation. Typically made of wood, plastic and aluminum castings, the displays were individually handmade in the California factory. Themes expanded to include popular subjects of the day, such as a “Jeep Honeymoon,” marching bands and even a group of miniature repairmen fixing a wristwatch. The detail was remarkable. Each “motion,” as the display was called, was a wonder of the imagination, with gears and pulleys that operated to exacting specifications. The firm continued to grow through the 50s. But in 1959, Mr. Baranger died. And by 1977, the firm closed—a victim of changing times and the rise of other advertising options, such as television. In late 1978, John Daniel happened upon the Casablanca Fan Company offices in Pasadena and noticed a few Baranger “motions” in the office. Conversation ensued, and he learned the owner of Casablanca, Mr. Burton A. Burton, owned the old Baranger factory property and its contents. Burton was a collector of mechanical music machines, slot machines and advertising gimmicks. A few weeks later, a tour was arranged and Daniel saw the factory just as it was the last day of production, with hundreds of motions in various stages of completion filling the space. He struck a deal to begin work restoring the contents and selling the duplicates to raise expenses. In 1986, Daniel purchased the entire business remains and has spent the interim years as caretaker of the legacy of this fascinating firm. He recently published a book on the history of the company complete with more than 300 photos of the actual displays. The book’s title is Baranger: Window Displays in Motion. A companion videotape shows the “motions” in action. Baranger displays now sell for $2,000 to $15,000 each, if you can find one. They sometimes appear on eBay, but the best source is Daniel himself, who continues to sell his duplicates. You can reach him at www.barangerstudios.com or at Daniel’s Den, 720 Mission Street, South Pasadena, California. Telephone 323-682-3557. Photos used here are by permission of John Daniel.
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