Retailworks » Rambles

Masthead header
Retailworks bio picture
  • Welcome to the Retailworks Blog!

    Our close-knit team has over 250 years of experience in art, design, branding, visual merchandising & display, architecture, general contracting and cabinetry work. We're here to impart information that will make you think, laugh, and wonder. If you are looking to strengthen your "customer's experience", and increase traffic, sales and profit, then follow us. You'll never look at your environment the same way again. Read, learn, and enjoy!

Visual Merchandising: What’s Trending in 2017

With the changing retail market and advances in technology and art come fresh trends in visual merchandising. A new year is the perfect time to update your store’s look and keep your brand in the front of customers’ minds by incorporating up-to-date trends. Retailworks is predicting we’ll be seeing a lot of the following in displays this year:



Tech is increasingly being woven into the retail experience. Consumers constantly interact with their digital devices, so retailers can engage with them by bringing the digital space into their stores. Think touchscreens, kiosks, and responsive displays!

LED Tunable Lighting

Tunable light technology uses both warm and cool LEDs, allowing retailers to easily customize the lighting in their space throughout the day. Lighting has a significant impact on shoppers’ mood, so retailers who adjust lighting to match their desired ambiance will have a significant advantage.

Check our our earlier post on tunable lighting here.

Source: Topstalker


Sustainability is becoming increasingly important, especially for the millennial market, whose spending power is on the rise. Showing makes a bigger impact than telling, so get creative by repurposing common, everyday materials into beautiful displays.

Balloons and cupcake wrappers were repurposed to create this display at Anthropologie. (Source:

Balloons and cupcake wrappers were repurposed to create the display shown.


The millennial market is also leading a trend of focusing on shopping local and supporting small businesses. People are placing importance on returning back to their communities and their roots. Engage with consumers by incorporating tribal patterns into displays and encouraging customers to shop local.


Brass and Gold

All that glitters will be brass and gold this year. These metallic colors catch the eye and also reflect light, making any space more dynamic.

Custom winter window display created by Retailworks, Inc. for Kesslers Diamonds

The above window display was custom created by Retailworks Inc. for Kesslers Diamonds.


For help incorporating 2017’s visual merchandising trends into your store, visit us at Follow us on social media for more tips!


Sources: GearFuse, TopStalker,

The Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions every Independent Retailer should be Making – Part Two

Last week, we discussed five New Year’s resolutions that would help an independent retailer thrive in 2017 (click here if you missed it). If you’ve got those goals down, here are a few more to tackle for added success:

De-clutter, fix and update.

Grab your team and spring clean…now. Clean your desk, your inventory room and your store from top to bottom. Walk around outside and clean up the garbage. Sell any furniture or equipment you no longer need. Repair the broken fan in the bathroom. Replace faded signage. Paint that dingy, faded wall. Start the new year with a clean, fresh feeling.

Freshen up your social media.

Make sure you’re keeping up with your online presence. Update your profile and cover photos if it has been a while. Write down how many followers you have on each platform, and how many you’d like to gain by the end of the year. Be sure you’re responding to customers’ comments and reviews, whether positive or negative, on your social media pages.

Plan a vacation or time off.

It’s easy to resent your retail operation when you’re staring at its inside walls 60 hours per week. Figure out a way to take time off in 2017 and get away for a while. To make this happen, you’ll need to make sure staff is properly trained and available. Or be prepared to close your store for a week (if your lease allows it).

Reflect and Redo.

Hone your retail operations. Are your prices sustainable? Do you have the right people in place? Is your marketing plan effective? Is your bookkeeping set up correctly? A new year is the best time to reflect and redo.

Take care of your wellness.

Put your health first. Go get your physical. Visit your dentist. Check in with your mental health provider. Running a retail store is stressful. Be sure that you’re at your best so your store can be, too.


Don’t worry if you need a little help achieving your small business goals this year. We’re here to help – visit us at to learn more.

Image sources:,,

The Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions every Independent Retailer should be Making – Part One

Happy New Year! The craziness of the holiday season is coming to an end, and it’s time to start thinking about what you want for your small business in 2017. Do you want to grow 10%? Sell the business? Open a new location? Start a retirement account? Making the following New Year’s resolutions will help you become closer to achieving your objectives.

Write down your goals.

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Armed with a journal and pen, camp out in the back corner of a coffee shop and start reflecting. What went right in 2016? Be honest. What went wrong? Be even more honest. Write down what you’d like to improve and create a game plan with a realistic timeline. Take it one step further and tell your goals to your loved ones – those who share their goals externally have a 90% greater success rate.

Reassess all your third-party contracts and vendors.

While January can be slow for business, it’s also slow for third-party partners such as insurance agents, bankers, payroll specialists and more. They have new higher quotas to hit, so keeping your business will be important to them. Now is the time to gather all your contracts and review them. Can you lower your insurance? Can you renegotiate your credit card processing fees? Can you lower your credit card rates? Ask. Don’t be shy. If they can’t help, start looking at new partners or at the very least, collect new bids. When your contracts are up, you’ll know where to go next.

Set Up your emergency plan.

What if something were to happen to you tomorrow? Do you have enough life insurance so your family could pay off your lease, settle your debts and pay your employees? Would they have access to your bank accounts, landlord contact information, attorney files or tax records? If you were hit by an ice cream truck tomorrow, would someone know what to do on your behalf? Develop an exit plan so your loved ones won’t have an additional burden. Find a point person…perhaps someone who doesn’t like ice cream…and make sure they know what to do.

Start a SEP or savings account.

Start planning for a rainy day or your retirement. You’ll either experience the pain of doing it…or the pain of not doing it. So, you might as well pay yourself first. Talk to your local financial expert and discover what tax deductions you’ll earn. By the way, when you sell your business someday, prospective buyers will be thrilled to see you were able to provide for your future. A true selling point!

Get more involved with your community.

Join your Chamber of Commerce. Sponsor a charity. Attend a business expo. Volunteer with the local schools. Hire a college intern. Increasing your presence in your community will open doors, improve your visibility and create what marketing experts call the “halo effect.” People will be more likely to shop at or refer your business because of the warm fuzzy feeling your brand gives them.

Visit us at for help making your small business goals a reality. Click here to view the second half of this blog.


Image sources:,,

Why Customers Buy: The Psychology of Impulse Purchases

Understanding the psychology behind why people make impulse purchases can help retailers successfully arrange and promote these products in their stores. This is the perfect time of year for storeowners to improve their impulse-buy displays, because customers are searching for stocking stuffers and other gifts for family and friends. Read on for insight into what psychological factors prompt shoppers to make impulse purchases:

  1. Foot-in-the-door

The foot-in-the-door technique is the idea that once a customer has made a large purchase, they are much more likely to agree to a second, smaller purchase. For example, if a shopper is already waiting in line to purchase a $40 sweater, adding a matching $3 lip gloss seems like nothing in comparison.

sephora impulse buys

  1. Point-of-Sale

When we place impulse buys near the register, we are presenting these products to a person at the point-of-sale. Customers waiting in line have already committed to purchasing from your business, and are literally getting out their wallets to spend. If the shopper is in the mood to buy, it is much more likely they’ll add an impulse purchase.


  1. Thought-Inspiring Displays

Impulse products displayed in an uncluttered, color-coordinated and inspiring manner are sure to catch the eye. When customers are waiting in line at the register, they need to look at something. This waiting period offers an advantage for stores that have aesthetic displays, ensuring that shoppers’ eyes are drawn to the products instead of their phones. And if the displays are thought-provoking, get the customers to smile, or make them think of someone, they are more likely to buy the item on display.

wall display

  1. Irresistible Deals

Impulse buys near the register often boast promotional, BOGO deals. People are always looking for a good value, so are more likely to make a purchase if they think they’re getting a good deal. The theory of ‘loss aversion’ suggests that people prefer avoiding losses more than acquiring gains. If clear signage alerts consumers to great, limited-time deals, shoppers won’t want to experience the loss of passing them up.


  1. Feel-good Buying

Sometimes, people make impulse purchases simply because buying new things makes them feel good. When shoppers see something new that they like, they experience a rush of dopamine, which brings them feelings of pleasure and satisfaction that motivate them to buy the product. Making a purchase activates the brain’s pleasure center, so when it comes down to adding a small impulse buy to their cart, consumers sometimes just think, “Why not?”

shopping bags

If you need help creating the perfect display to make your impulse buys fly off the shelf, visit us at

Information sources:

The Wall Street Journal. “This is your Brain at the Mall: Why Shopping Makes you Feel so Good.”

Vend. “How to Encourage Impulse Buys in your Store: A Deeper Look at Unplanned Purchases.”


Image sources:,,,,

How to Make your Main Street the Best Spot for Holiday Shopping

During the holidays, there’s nothing like strolling down a charmingly decorated street, peeking in windows strung with glittery garland, and purchasing gifts for the ones you love. Give shoppers this experience by making the most of your main street this holiday season with these five tips. Your community, businesses and customers will thank you.

1. Promote and Direct

Be sure to post your holiday events and attractions on your website and all your forms of social media. Encourage your merchants to share the information on their sites and forums as well. Install clear directional signage for visitors coming downtown. Steer them towards special event parking and/or holiday attractions.

Downtown Rochester, Michigan

Downtown Rochester, Michigan

2. Festivity First

The more festive your main street, the more time consumers will spend basking in the celebratory atmosphere, getting to know your businesses, and holiday shopping. Stringing holiday lights outside, trimming building rooflines, filling planters with evergreens, sparkly twigs, or berries and tying the pots with big red bows will create a welcoming mood throughout the community.

Encourage the merchants to design creative window displays that include QR codes for mobile devices or other interactive elements that will keep shoppers engaged as they stroll up and down the street.

Provide a treasure map that shoppers can take to participating businesses for stamping. Those who fill their map with stamps, get something free. The freebies can be picked up at a library, theatre, chamber of commerce or other location you want shoppers to visit before they leave town. Maps could be downloaded ahead of the event.

clear path

3. Share Success

Businesses can collaborate on holiday décor themes or promotional items.

Merchants can team up to cross-promote their products and services by putting other business’s coupons in their shopping bags. If shop owners are knowledgeable about all of the merchants in the area, they can help point shoppers looking for something specific in the right direction.

Downtown Leavenworth, Washington

Downtown Leavenworth, Washington

4. Entertaining with Events

Host a holiday event to draw customers to your main street and create a valuable interaction with them. For instance, have an “open house” night, where businesses offer special hours or sales and serve snacks and hot drinks. Create an event around a tree lighting ceremony. Have a parade that features Santa’s working elves. Hold a charitable collection drive for food, toys, blankets, etc. Recruit carolers, local artists or musicians to add an extra element of entertainment – they’ll bring even more business by spreading word-of-mouth.

mackinac lights

Downtown Mackinac Island, Michigan

5. Start a Tradition

The holiday season is known for its traditions. Start a tradition of your own by featuring something for the holidays that is unique for your main street. For example, have local kids design a mailbox for letters to Santa, then have local cabinetmakers build it, super-sized(!), and place it in the center of town. Encourage shop owners to have their own traditions. For instance, Elsa’s on the Park in Milwaukee, WI has a gigantic Christmas tree made out of a different material each year. This year, it’s feathers! Whether it is an event, such as an ice sculpture competition, or a decoration made of creative materials, your holiday tradition will make your main street stand out.

letters for santa

For more inspiration, check out OnlyInYourState’s article on “11 Main Streets in Wisconsin that are Pure Magic During Christmastime.” Visit us at for help with anything from seasonal decorations to an entire main street revitalization.


Image sources:,,,

T w i t t e r