Creative Display Contest winner: Crow’s Nest Beach Market
Ideas and tips for eye-pleasing product displays are high on the want list for just about every brick-and-mortar retailer.
We at Gift Shop and Museums & More magazines felt a great way to inspire creativity would be to showcase some great displays from our wide variety of readers, but in a fun and competitive way.
The result was our first Creative Display Contest.
Late last year, we asked readers to submit photos of their favorite in-store display, along with a little information on what inspired it. We narrowed the list to 10 finalists, which were highlighted in our Winter issues. From there, readers voted for their favorite via an online survey, which concluded Feb. 12.
Thank you to all of the contest entrants and congratulations to the finalists. We hope everyone will enter again next year!
The Winner: Crow’s Nest Beach Market
The Crow’s Nest Beach Market in Santa Cruz, California opened nearly five years ago next door to the restaurant of the same name. The Crow’s Nest is located on Santa Cruz Harbor, which affords market plenty of foot traffic from locals as well as tourists.
Cory Aripotch, who has been with the Beach Market since its inception, had a big hand in designing its layout and, of course, continues to pick its products. Aripotch said the winning display was inspired by her current obsession with all things moon and feels the diversity of products — two dozen vendors are represented — is what makes it unique.
The daughter of a New York gift shop owner, Aripotch grew up around retail before majoring in biology in college and then moving to the west coast. Once in California, she found a tough job market for her field of study and ultimately returned to her roots in retail as a buyer for a Santa Cruz book and stationery store.
“I completely fell in love with retail all over again and realized this was truly my path!” said Aripotch, who told us all about the Beach Market and her philosophy on making a great display.
Gift Shop: Could you describe your clientele?
Aripotch: Our customer base changes throughout the year. Summertime brings a lot more tourists and I definitely bulk up on beach supplies and “Santa Cruz” items that time of year. We do have lots of regular customers too since we are located in the Santa Cruz Harbor, a favorite spot for locals to take a stroll. We are very lucky that we are pretty steady busy all year long and are able to rotate our inventory as often as we do. Our customers love coming in because the store always looks different and we are constantly getting new product in.
What products make up the sales floor?
Because of our location we carry just about everything. We get a lot of people that come off the beach to grab lunch or snacks that will also pick up sunscreen, towels and beach toys. We also stock some Santa Cruz souvenirs, like mugs, magnets, coasters and Christmas ornaments, but I find most of the tourists that visit our shop are more interested in unique mementos like locally made products. We carry T-shirts and sweatshirts that are designed by employees in our restaurant and are hand printed locally; such a unique reminder of a fantastic vacation. The rest of the shop is chock full of all kinds of little gifts. We have a large children’s section with lots of nautical-inspired merchandise. We sell tons of children’s books and lots of marine animal plush.
Can you take us through your process for creating a new display?
When I get space for a new display, I first decide what the theme will be. Sometimes I’m inspired by a specific product and I want to build a story around it. Sometimes it’s a color that I’m really feeling and then, of course, there are seasonal displays. I will spend hours browsing catalogs looking for all of the perfect pieces I need. I really love the idea of using as many different vendors as I can in each display. It feels like there can be something for everyone if you have items from many different places. The actual building of the display is to me the most fun. Sometimes it can take me quite some time to get it exactly how I want but it is always so rewarding to see your vision realized.
What’s the best display advice you could pass on to fellow retailers?
I have been given so much great advice — mostly from my mom! I think the most important thing is buying from a range of companies. It makes your displays so much more interesting and unique when you fill it with lots of different items that you really love. Building height in a display is also so important. Most of our display pieces are just flat tables so I use crates, smaller tables, boxes, acrylic stands — really anything I can to bump product up and make the display more three dimensional and full.
One thing I learned late in the game is to mix plants into your displays. I usually buy fake floral but you can certainly use real also. It just makes your displays really pop and I was kind of shocked with how well they sold too! Lastly, I think it’s really important to checkerboard the products in your display. Try not to group similar patterned or color items together. If you spread them out and mix other product in between them it makes the display so much more visually pleasing.