mer ·chan ·dis ·ing    mur-chuh n-dahy-zing noun – element of marketing concerned especially with the sale of goods and services to customers; often involves product display

An insurance company with an elaborate display of vintage housewares. A hair stylist’s storefront with an eclectic collection of fashion accessories artfully arranged. A massive wooden curlicue adorning the façade of a design collective. All this on a rainy day in Corning, New York’s Gaffer District.


As I went from one store front to the next, I was simultaneously drawn in and blown away. Each establishment ~ whether retail or service ~ presented a visual treasure chest. Retail stores were often more product-focused, and rightly so. Service providers seemed to lean toward local history in their displays.

This feast for the eyes extended beyond window displays to the facades and signage. Whimsical blade signs and other elements ~ like the curlicue ~ drew my eyes up and around and back down again.

And then I saw it. The Gaffer District’s Visual Merchandising Program. Genius!


“The visual merchandising program provides businesses with a free window-dressing program that incorporates merchandise, signage and professional props to provide an attractive welcome to visitors and customers.”   source

This is an on-going effort, with windows being re-dressed 6 or 7 times a year.

On the next rainy day in your town, it might be time to take a walk and see what draws your eye. Anything? Anyone? Bueller?

Who in your town could help? The community theatre? The high school stage crew? Local artists or crafters? This is the perfect opportunity for partnerships ~ financial and non-financial. As much as funds are always needed, so are hands-on helpers. Take advantage of this opportunity to tap into the talent and passion that already exists in your community.

Overall, consider what message is your merchandising sending and whether or not it is the message you want to relay.