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Danner Boots has three stores in the Portland, Oregon, area. This mural is in their Union Way store and shows Mount. Hood, the iconic image for the area.

Create a ‘Red Sink’

DIY displays for memorable showrooms

Every time I go into a spa store, my first thought is, “What sets this apart from all the other spa stores?” I’m always hoping for a visual reminder of where I am, beyond a bunch of spas on the selling floor and chemicals on the wall.

A few years ago, I was in Bedrosians, an elegant tile showroom in southern Oregon. I had been hired to give a seminar to tile/stone/marble retailers and was on a fact- and photo-finding mission. After I walked around the store, the store’s manager, Shawnette Blank, gave me a tour of their restrooms — and I immediately understood why she was so proud. They were truly fabulous, a combination of great tile work and creativity. Shawnette told me these rooms were her store’s “red sinks” and went on to explain that every store, in every category, needs a red sink — a visual “wow” a customer will remember long after leaving the store.

Finding Your Red Sink

Finding an idea that’s great, cheap and easy is tough, and the right red sink for your store will most likely take money and effort. But having a memorable image can drive a customer back to your store.

I am hoping the past 16 months have been good for you. If so, you may think you don’t need to do anything because you’re making money. As you know from other aspects in your life, all things change, grow or die. COVID-related great business is not exempt from that rule. Consider adding a “red sink” to your showroom now, while money is flowing and you have extra space to work with.

A memorable visual can be free-standing, on a high wall or hanging from a high ceiling. It always makes sense to shine some light on it so your time, money and effort don’t go to waste. Adding a few LED spotlights may be out of your budget after you create your red sink, but work them into the budget from the start and it won’t hurt so much once the compliments start pouring in.

Red Sink Inspiration

The floral ‘LOVE’ display below was seen at a plant store in Philadelphia. Each letter is about 5 feet high and made from metal fencing. The ceilings here are exceptionally high, so the letters are at least 10 feet from the floor. Notice the front of the letters are filled with silk flowers for summer and the back with Christmas ornaments for the holiday season. Imagine creating huge letters and filling them with rubber ducks, beach balls or fake fruit. You can “fake out” the interior of the letters with crumbled paper in order to buy fewer decorations. Just make sure the paper can’t be seen. Some words for spa retailers to use: Play, soak, heal, enjoy or relax.

Anthropologie, a national clothing store, has influenced the visual merchandising field with its consistently excellent DIY props and décor, like this floor-to-ceiling tree (far right image). The branches seem to be cut from homasote board but could also be lightweight gatorboard. As the trunk doesn’t taper, it may be a carpet tube covered with paper mâché. Because the boughs are flat and parallel to the floor, this could work in stores with ceilings above 9 1/2 feet.

Bigfoot (next page) lives in a hiking store in Portland, Oregon. I have no idea where they found this, but it makes the entire store more intriguing. When the store is closed, this guy has a spotlight shining on him all night so people see him after hours. Notice the small-in-comparison potted plant to the left rear of Bigfoot. The live plant adds a sense of realness to the wood sculpture.

 Instead of one big focal display, if you have someone creative on staff, consider reworking all your endcaps. Parkrose Hardware in Portland, Oregon, had a creative and artistic staffer. They asked him to have fun with the end caps, and provided him with chalkboards and chalk paint markers (top right). I enjoyed walking around the store, looking at the art and how each chalkboard highlighted the products below.

Danner Boots has three stores in the Portland, Oregon, area. The mural (middle image) is in their Union Way store and shows Mount Hood, the iconic image for the area. What is iconic for your area? Locate your prime focal wall from the front door and consider having a local artist paint it for you. Perhaps they’ll take a spa unit in exchange or even better, do it for the publicity. Just make sure you see samples of their work beforehand. This is not a “but it’s Sam’s nephew and he really needs the work” type of project! You can always stock merchandise below the prime area of the mural. Notify the artist ahead of time where the merchandise will go so they can make that a less interesting part of the art.

We’d like to feature your “Red Sink” in our February/ March 2022 issue. Send pictures — and the story on how it came together, including who was involved — to editorial@kendrickcontent.com by December 31, 2021.