Year-Round Appeal

Give your exterior a refresh to entice customers to stop

I have visited many spa stores in the Pacific Northwest thanks to writing for SpaRetailer, speaking at the pool and spa shows and consulting for the industry. When I drive past a spa store, I decide whether it seems worth taking a second, longer look at a later date to check it out on the inside. There are several I have never gone back to; when they are unappealing from the outside, I figure they are equally uninspired on the inside. Of course, assuming is never a good idea — but I am prejudiced about messy, unclean exteriors.

A spa is rarely an impulse item. The prime challenge is to get people to notice your store as they drive by — then remember it for a future purchase.

Tidy Up

While people are staying home or just driving around to get out of the house, refresh your exterior. Here are some things that convey a negative first impression:

  • Your sign is faded, dented, dirty and/or lights are broken or out
  • Your building is dusty, dirty and/or the paint is peeling
  • The parking lot is dirty or cluttered
  • The store windows are black, blank or overly cluttered with displays
  • There are no bushes or anything attractive to soften your exterior
  • Your front door is filled with signs. There are only four things that need to be on your front door: store name, street number, hours and a “We Welcome All” sign.
  • There is no handicap access ramp visible or sign indicating another entry for a wheelchair
  • There is no OPEN sign

Create Curb Appeal

A perfect combination of a changeable sign, good graphics and lovely plantings at Gibraltar Pools & Spas in Topsfield, Massachusetts.


Have a clean, fresh sign that indicates what products you sell. If your sign just says Spas, people may not know you mean hot tubs. The font needs to be easy to read from a distance. Good color and a strong light/dark contrast will help make it visible, especially later this year as it gets darker earlier in the evening.

Gibraltar Pools & Spas in Topsfield, Massachusetts, does a great job with outdoor plantings, a changing sign and huge pink vinyl flamingos happily floating in an above-ground pool in the parking lot. The owner, Peter de Bernardo, says most people mention the flamingos when they come into the store.

An outdoor, changeable letter sign attracts attention if you offer a new message every two weeks. If you wait longer than two weeks, people stop noticing. Remember: Clever and timely messages work! Appeal to the stress of the coronavirus and remind people that hot water can help.

Paint and Colors

If your exterior paint is a nice color and in good shape, a power wash may work for a refresh.

Yellows, oranges, reds, electric blues and lime green all attract attention, while softer blues, greens, browns, tan and gray recede. Fuchsia is a big no for most spa stores unless it’s in your logo and is working for you.

If you’re having a sale or a special event, consider a big colorful sign, balloons, those weird dancing tube guys, a huge inflatable — or if you have room, a spa unit set up outside with balloons on the corners.


These pink flamingos are well-known in the area. They make people smile, and that’s the best thing right now — and pretty much all the time!

If your windows are dark or look black from the street, add graphics that show what you sell. If your windows are separated by mullions (a vertical bar between the panes of glass in a window), perhaps showcase one category per window, such as hot tubs, swim spas, chemicals, accessories or grills.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, but a printed photo may fade quickly in your windows depending on the direction your front faces. Stylized vinyl graphics can tell the same story but look fresh longer.

Consider perforated graphics that look solid from the front but are see-through from inside the store. They’re a little more money, but being able to see outside is worth a lot! If you have many windows, leave space between images. Now is the time to revamp your exterior to remind people your store is ready to do business. During these uncertain times, current and future customers will derive a feeling of hope and optimism from seeing you refresh your store, and they’ll remember you when it’s time to shop again.

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