Home » Notes From Visual Merchandising & Store Design Sessions

Notes From Visual Merchandising & Store Design Sessions

I love attending conferences with excellent presentations and workshops.

At the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association Marketplace this week I got a chance to attend two sessions on merchandising and store design put on by Linda Cahan.

Although I have already published a Free eBook called Merchandising Made Easy, I wrote down a ton of notes from these sessions either as reminders or as advanced ideas from what I already know.

Here are some of the key takeaways…

Focal Displays
Your store merchandising should be built on a series of Focal Displays that are visually attractive and placed where they will be easily seen. For instance, at the end of every aisle there should be a Focal Display. When a person enters the store, they will typically look straight ahead first. You should have a Focal Display against the back wall directly in front of them.

People also scan a store in predictable patterns. First they look straight ahead. Then they scan from left to right. Therefore you should stand in their shoes and see how many Focal Display areas you have from the front of the store and what are they seeing.

Your Focal Displays tell the story of who you are, your product selection, your core values, etc. Make sure that you are using those spaces wisely. If you have nothing interesting where a Focal Display should be, you are telling your customers that your store has nothing interesting for them. Make your Focal Displays fun and the rest of the store will seem fun.

Light Makes a Difference
Stores with really bright lights and lots of product everywhere are considered more affordable than stores with a mix of lights or bright lights with little product. If you are going for the boutique look, mix up your lighting. If you are going for the affordable look, add some wattage.

The best light of all, however, is Natural Light. Windows, skylights, etc. Natural light makes a store feel cleaner, lighter and more relaxing. It also helps your staff feel better.

Even if your landlord won’t let you put in more natural light, you can make a difference just by painting your ceilings light blue with a cloud or two. It will expand the space and make it feel like there is more natural light.

LED lights are the new wave of the future, offering brightness at a fraction of the energy, and they last forever. Get away from the hot halogens, expensive incandescent, and even the fluorescent lights in favor of LED when you start switching out your light fixtures.

Round is a Shape
Get rid of your sharp corners. If your cashwrap sits in the middle of the store and has corners, soften them somehow. Put a plant or a round fixture at each corner. Use round tables instead of square tables for displays. Sharp corners are irritants, not only dangerous physically, but also psychologically. Rounded corners and rounded fixtures are much more comfortable and pleasing.

Thanks to Linda for these great ideas (and so much more). I know there are some things I need to change.

How about you?


PS Check out Linda’s book 100 Displays Under $100 (not an affiliated link, just a shout out to say thanks for two wonderful presentations)


  1. I'd like to know more about where to buy these LED light fixtures. All I can find are fixtures that costs hundreds of dollars. It would cost me tens of thousands to outfit an entire store at that price. And are they really long lasting? are they bright enough?

    I'm intrigued by LED, but need more info before I'm ready to jump in.

  2. I'm intrigued, too.

    I believe the "hundreds of dollars" fixtures are the ones she means. But since they use so little energy, just a fraction of flourescents, they pay for themselves quickly. They aren't as hot, either, which saves on air conditioning. And the bulbs apparently last for decades which becomes another saving.

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