styling tips | for retail

Marian Parsonsbuying & selling antiques, Decorating, Running a Business, Tips and Tricks

I’ve written several posts about styling over the years, but I’ve grown a lot and learned a lot along the way and it’s probably time for an update.  (I have also received a few comments and e-mails about it lately.)

Styling is a broad topic, so I’ll break this up into a series.  In my work, I do three kinds of styling – for photography, for the home, and for retail.  They all have similarities, but I approach each of them differently.  Let’s start with styling for retail…

This is a “retail vignette” I put together using furniture and accessories that I brought to sell at Lucketts…


As I’m pulling and arranging things, I’m aiming towards a three main goals..

1 | Tell a story

Whether it’s a story of color, texture, a specific space, theme, season, geographic location, etc., I want to curate a group of items that relate to one another in some way.  For this vignette, I collected things that made sense in my mind and sort of ended up with a monochromatic eclectic solarium sort of feel.  Ha!  It’s random, but it’s okay if it is.  It’s about taking your customers to a place or evoking a feeling.  It’s creative, so it doesn’t have to make sense to everyone!



2 | Show customers how they can use pieces in their home

It’s sort of like having a mannequin to showcase clothing.  If stuff is just on a shelf, out of any kind of context, it’s harder for shoppers to imagine how they might use it.  Just because you can see potential doesn’t mean that everyone else can!  If they can actually see it in a context, they are more likely to imagine it in their on home.  Ikea is brilliant at this with their interactive showroom that you walk through and experience before getting to the marketplace.  So, have some items on a shelf or in a stack nearby, but also show them in a display.



3 | Set up a display that’s interesting, but not too intricate

If it’s a window display, go for it.  Make it as intricate as you want.  If it’s a display that customers will actually be shopping, a display that’s too overdone might actually deter shoppers.  They don’t want to mess up the display or they are nervous about removing an item because it might topple the stuff around it.  So, leave space for access and to let customers know, through non-verbal cues, that it’s okay to remove what catches their eye.



A few other things I would suggest…

  • Make sure the tags are easily visible.  It’s just a pet peeve of mine when retailers are trying to sell things and they hide the tags!
  • Add lots of levels.  Did you notice all different levels on top of the table and under it?  That makes the eye travel around the display, encouraging customers to linger, so they don’t miss anything.
  • Change displays frequently.  Moving things around can draw notice to them.  I constantly move things around at antique markets when I have the time, so someone who walked by earlier in the day and come back to visit, might see something they didn’t notice before.  If your displays are dynamic, regular shoppers will come back again and again.




I know a lot of my readers are in this creative business as well.  Anything else to add?

For those who aren’t in the biz, I think there are some take-aways that apply to the home as well, when it comes to combining like things and creating levels in a vignette.  The next post in this series will be entirely for you, though – tips on styling your home….

styling tips | for retail

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