Window Displays


Window Displays -

As a business-bringing medium the important value of a well-dressed show window is now so generally accepted that further supporting argument is quite unnecessary, therefore a discussion of this subject can be confined entirely to those principles and methods generally recognized as most essential for successful grocery store displays.

Of first consideration is the window itself. Its construction should be such as to supply it with plenty of light during the day, and for evening use there should be installed a sufficient number of properly placed lights to provide a brilliant window, but not a glaring one. Merchants the country over, whether in small towns or in the largest cities, are rapidly learning the value of light for evening displays. It has many times been demonstrated that through more brilliant lighting the stores on a street of moderate popularity can attract to themselves a large volume of the trade held by the merchants on the town's principal shopping thoroughfare. Whether a store keeps open late or not, evening window displays are in most cases highly valuable, as they afford many busy people an opportunity of viewing things which may appeal to them as immediate necessities or for future purchase, but which they would never have seen had it not been for the evening display.

There are three big advantages in having the rear, top and sides of a window completely enclosed. Such construction keeps displayed goods from injury through dust; offers an opportunity for arranging attractive backgrounds; and enables the enclosure to be so ventilated that during the winter no frost can form to obscure the display. Such ventilation keeps the temperature on both sides of the window practically the same and thus prevents all condensation of moisture. It is also desirable to have the floor of a window raised about four inches, as such elevation gives added prominence to displays.

It should be borne in mind that in a window, as on the stage, the most conspicuous position is directly in the center; therefore, in arranging goods the most important mass or object should have this prominent location. The extreme sides are best adapted for the two masses next in weight to the centerpiece, and then all minor objects may be grouped between these three bodies. Displays should be kept well away from the window glass, as often an effect, otherwise splendid, is spoiled by thrusting it too close to the observer.

Most enclosed windows are provided with a permanent wooden background usually panelled and either finished in a natural wood effect or painted. In the matter of color it is advisable to avoid pure black or white; the former gives to most goods a dingy appearance and the latter affords too little contrast for such merchandise as is generally displayed. Most natural wood effects are good, as are also greys and greens. When backgrounds for special displays are required, an almost unlimited variety of colors and arrangements may be effected by the use of cheese cloth. This is also the best and cheapest of all materials for covering stands, pillars and other window fixtures. Even the most costly fabric cannot take the place of this inexpensive cloth; most goods would appear cheap if displayed on such obviously expensive materials as velvet or satin, but cheese cloth, while presenting a general attractiveness, is unobtrusive when closely approached and does not dispute for attention with the goods it helps display.

A variety of window fixtures, such as graduated shelves or stands, pillars, pedestals, arches, etc., can be either easily made or cheaply bought. If made they should, for greater strength, be put together with screws rather than nails. Should they be purchased it is well to consider whether or not you intend using them covered or uncovered. If your window is finished in oak or mahogany it is advisable to get the more costly hardwood fixtures to harmonize with your window finish; you may then use them covered or not, as the occasion requires. Many pleasing effects can be obtained by the use of screens and arches of cloth-covered or gilded lattice work. The stencil is also a useful and rapid method of securing attractive decorative results. Small artificial palms can often be of service as graceful wings to the window stage, in fact, they are very useful adjuncts to a supply of window fixtures.

Simplicity is the best principle to follow in window dressing. The general inclination is to crowd a window until it offers nothing but confusion to the the passer-by. It should always be remembered that the first mission of a window is "to sell goods," and a crowded window has about the same chance of making sales as would a clerk who offered a customer a dozen different objects in every sentence. The circular arrangement of goods is usually more graceful and effective than cornered grouping and to this end only curved fixtures should be secured. There are, of course, many striking displays to be had from square and triangular forms, but in the circular method there is greater safety from possible discord.

A "mixed" window containing goods of various grades and sorts not in harmony should generally be avoided. Goods for displays can be divided into two classes: New and seasonable goods, which find a ready sale because of their novelty or timeliness, and slow-selling goods, which must be moved by the expedient of bargain prices. The selling value of a window is almost invariably increased by a display of prices - merely prices, not necessarily "cut" prices. Prices have an educational effect directly bearing upon a larger sale of grocery luxuries. There are hundreds of commodities in the grocer's stock which many people never consider purchasing, simply because they are under an impression that these goods are much beyond their means.

The grocer's stock offers an immense variety of commodities from which to draw material for attractive displays. The idea of arranging in the window a group of various spices with a world map as a background and then running a slender ribbon from each pile of spice to the point on the map from which that spice came, is always sure to attract profitable attention. This scheme can also be used for other imported articles, and whenever photographs of scenes in foreign fields, markets and manufactories can be obtained they should always be considered as valuable window material, especially in these "map" displays.

All goods, particularly foreign products, which are put up in fancy or unusual cans, boxes, jars and bottles, possess much interest to the public. Small packing cases or casks having foreign labels, seals and other quaint marks can be used to advantage. A good idea for attracting attention to imported goods would be to arrange a number of pyramids, each composed of products from a certain country, and then to surmount each group with a small flag of the nation furnishing those commodities.

Rare and curious fruits are excellent attractions, and if a grocer does not make a specialty of fine fruits he can secure from the nearest importer of such goods quite a variety of uncommon tropical fruits. Such articles should not be considered as stock to be sold, as they well pay for themselves in the attention which they secure for the store. Displays of this nature should always occupy a prominent position, and care should be taken to set them off to the best possible advantage. The leaves of such fruits should be obtained when possible, and if the wrappings are unusual in appearance they should also be exhibited.

Displays composed entirely of one particular brand of packaged goods are always striking. A window filled with a certain soap, cereal or starch impresses observers with the abundance of that article and the extensive demand that must, in consequence, exist for it, and to convince people of a commodity's popularity is to accomplish the largest part of your sales work on it.

Many concerns send out made-up displays showing their goods as they appear in various stages of manufacture, and these can generally be used to advantage. Most manufacturers are generous in supplying their trade with such material for displays as may assist in the sale of the goods they make, and while a merchant should practice discrimination in choosing from this material for his window he should by no means neglect it.

window displays should be seasonable. There isn't much "pulling" quality in a mid-summer display of fur overcoats, and it should no more be expected that a window full of plum puddings will appeal to many people in July. For a summer display of packaged cereals, flaked corn or puffed grains of some sort should be chosen rather than rolled oats or other heavy breakfast foods.

"Mechanical" displays - those having action due to special mechanism - are very effective if their obvious purpose is to show the quality or method in manufacture of some particular article of stock. But it should never be lost sight of that a display must attract attention to the goods for sale and not merely to some interesting, but irrelevant, device. Electric fans can be used to advantage in giving action to flags or draperies and can usually be so placed as to be either entirely out of sight or quite inconspicuous.

"Illusion" windows and bizarre exhibitions of all kinds surely attract a crowd, but the crowd is there to see the show and not your goods. The value of most such displays is always questionable, and unless these exhibitions have some direct bearing upon what you have for sale nothing is lost by avoiding them. Electric illumination effects can usually be depended upon to get attention at night, and if well designed and arranged they form very excellent methods of halting the passer-by.

There are many opportunities during the year for special decoration. Christmas, New Year's, Washington's and Lincoln's birthday anniversaries, St. Valentine's Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Hallowe'en and Thanksgiving, are all generally recognized with appropriate displays. There are also numerous other occasions for attractive window work: association and lodge conventions, local celebrations, visiting celebrities, etc. Careful judgment should be exercised in all displays that have to do with elections, athletic victories, and, in fact, all matters upon which public sentiment is divided. A partisan display usually has more power to repel than to attract.

Most merchants dress their windows outside of business hours, but a deviation from this practice is frequently advantageous. Many decorators gain much attention for the store by dressing their windows in full view of a mid-day crowd. People never seem to tire of "getting behind the scenes" and "watching the wheels go 'round," and a window dresser can always be sure of a sizable audience. If a canvas screen is used to enclose the window during a "change," the splendid opportunity its expanse offers for some brief, effective advertising should not be neglected. "Pass This Way Tomorrow, but Don't Pass This Window." "Our Window Is Closed, but Our Door Is Open," "Come Back! You'll Be Glad You Did," "Don't Look! The Window Is Dressing" - these lines suggest the length and style of such notices.

In the grocery trade, more than in any other, cleanliness of window displays is of essential importance. As a business-repelling device nothing can quite equal an exhibition of food products surrounded by dingy decorations, covered with dirt and dust and having the general appearance of an extensive fly morgue. Furthermore, while it is usually a desirable thing to have a cat in your store as a discourager of mice, it is wise to obtain a shy and modest tabby; one without the vain habit of show-window lounging. Goods and decorations should never be permitted to remain on display after they have lost their appearance of freshness. Dust and dead insects can hardly be prevented, especially in an unenclosed window, but it is only the work of a few minutes to dust your displays once a day, keeping them clean and tidy. A display of opened goods in an unenclosed window can be protected from flies by placing an electric fan at one side and attaching to the front-protecting wires, long strips of colored paper or silk ribbons. The wind-current from the fan, by keeping these streamers in motion, will not only drive away flies, but will add an attractive life to your display. Never, under any consideration, place fly paper in your window.


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