|CREATIVE DISPLAYS CAN DRAW CUSTOMERS,
As ran in The Fruit Growers News and The Vegetable
Growers News January 2004
Sue Kirby interview by Greg
Brown, Associate Editor
Rather than lining the jams and jellies up in two straight rows, be creative, and look at
you display area with a whimsical perspective. Then, make a great display for your
individual products and be prepared to sell the whole display. That is that message of Sue
Kirby-Wisehart is a consultant who advises retail outlets on display design and speaks at
retail trade shows across the country. Recently, at The Denver Merchandise Mart, she told
display designers to remember that everything is for sale, so have a price in mind for the
Her first gift store had the distinction of starting out undercapitalized in a horrible
location in Los Angeles, she said. With little to work with for fixtures, she began
trolling nice neighborhoods on garbage day for reusable display features.
We had a horrible location in an industrial park in the 1980s, she said.
But we brought people in on their lunches and they were taken with our whimsical
displays and customer service. They told their friends.
Kirby-Wisehart said she remembers one holiday display featuring life size reindeer rescued
from the garbage heap, strewn with Christmas wreath around their necks that one customer
bought outright. The display was meant to move more wreaths.
This lady asked me how much are the deer? And, I said, the wreaths
are $25. The lady said good for you but thats not what I
Kirby-Wisehart said something clicked in her head and she threw out a price of $250 each
for the two trash-rescued reindeer that had been spray painted and decked out in wreaths.
Without batting an eye, the lady said, Ill take them. Can you deliver
From that point on, the store philosophy was everything is for sale.
Ag marketers should be open to the same idea, she said. Whether they are selling flowers
or fruit, marketers should consider how the customer is going to display their purchase in
their home. Consider the fact that the customer might just want some color on their table
and fruit is colorful. Today the flowers and plants are so popular. The customer
wants the natural products and are willing to pay for it.
Partner for display
If you dont have what you want to display in, look for someone who does, said
Kirby-Wisehart. Bring in a pie safe from a local antique store, or put the scarecrow in
grandmas rocking chair. Put $2,000 on the heirloom, but dont put not for
sale, said Kirby-Wisehart.
You can borrow stuff from nurseries, antique store and junk stores. Theyll be
happy for the cross promotion and soon youll be known for doing something that
nobody else can do, she said. There was a great magic that happened when we
started to look serious to people. We got the customer excited. Today I say, you better
warm their heart or tickle their funny bone with your displays.
Kirby-Wiseharts store brought in an outdoor ivy arch that created a center of
attention and hung products on the arch. We created a feeling. And everything looked
better around that arch. If you are not the creative type, empower your
employees to do it, she said. It became such a game that employees would come
in for fun and work off the clock to design the best display. She said she got to
the point that she would bring stuff into the store, not knowing what it was going to do
for a display. She even began to get excited about the twigs that blew down from the trees
overnight and the pine cones stolen from under the neighbors pine tree. Even try
setting up displays for Christmas card pictures or other seasonal displays. And keep
trying to look at things from a different perspective. Spray paint does wonders,
said Kirby-Wisehart. Just play with display and people will be amazed.
Sue's tips for display:
- Have a theme in mind. Holiday, animal or mineral a
theme helps get creative juices going.
- Use a birdbath inside. When you move things from their
normal surrounding they can be very interesting.
- Become a destination for your entertaining displays. People
want to be entertained, even when they are shopping.
- Look at things differently. Use broken chairs, and other
cast off items to create a display focus.