Embrace the ‘slow retail’ movement.
The homegrown and handmade movement has spurred growth in farm-inspired products in nearly every gift category. Fueled by consumer interest wishing to return to their roots to the rise of farmers markets and wanting to know who’s responsible for growing the food we eat, farmhouse chic is in.
“The ‘slow food movement’ was designed to combat the onslaught of the fast-food chains that focus on profits rather than the quality of food,” said Stephen Humphry, manager of the Farm Shop at Los Poblanos in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Here at the Farm Shop, we wish to define a ‘slow retail’ movement that’s focused on preserving the quality of goods and services and the customers overall experience, over profit.”
Humphry’s Farm Shop started as a small room in an existing inn on Los Poblanos, a historic property set among 25 acres of lavender fields, cottonwood trees and lush formal gardens. Its backdrop lends itself to farmhouse chic since the Farm Shop is literally set on a farm.
The owner approached Humphry to turn an old dairy building into a retail environment. Each of the items in the shop, whether created on-site or purchased from local artisans, represents the southwest and New Mexico but also share a story. Their own line of healing lavender spa products is a big draw since the lavender is not only grown on their land, the products are also created on-site.
Even if your shop doesn’t back up to a working farm, it’s not hard to incorporate the farmhouse chic look in any store environment.
Camille Malkiewicz, director of marketing for Canvas Corp, and her team noticed how popular the farmhouse chic movement look is that her company created a whole collection dedicated to the lifestyle, appropriately called Farmhouse Kitchen.
“While we live in a very high tech society, we’re also drawn to things that are handmade and have a high emotion or passion appeal,” Malkiewicz noted. That doesn’t mean farmhouse chic has to look country. On the contrary, she said.
“We didn’t want to cross the line to country farmhouse but we did want the collection to evoke feelings of homemade,” she added. The farmhouse line is more industrial chic than country, giving particular attention to design elements from font to the colorways and overall design.
“We want the products to have that rustic feel like unfinished wood or burlap canvas, but we don’t want it to look perfect.”
Farmhouse Kitchen’s best-seller is a canvas fabric panel that can be used as giftwrap or wall décor, Malkiewicz said. Among other favorites include recipe cards and 4-by-6-inch file folders than fit into a crate.
“Even if you’re not crafty, our line lets you enjoy this look by making it easy to print a recipe and add it to a recipe card,” she added. For those who do want to get crafty, it’s easy enough to incorporate their products into bigger projects.
The Farm Shop is best-known for being the home of Los Poblanos healing lavender spa products, which it wholesales to other retailers as well as offer in their shop and online, according to Humphry. He says his customers tend to purchase items that are exclusive to the Farm Shop, made at Los Poblanos, or remind them of their experience on their 25-acre family-owned organic farm. In addition to offering their own line of lavender spa products, they’re slowly working their way to become the top destination in New Mexico for unique and local entertainment food.
“Our goal is to support as many local organic farmers as we can while showing off our kitchen skills at the same time,” he added. “We have quality books and tools for chefs and gardeners, unique items from local artists, custom spice blends from our kitchen and a whole lot more.”
Merchandising Farmhouse Chic
“Merchandising and packaging certainly play a big role in our sales, but it’s not what keeps our customers coming back for more,” Humphry admitted. “The substance of our products and the knowledge of our staff helps create a bond of trust with our guests that is unusual, but desirable in the world of the ‘quick-sale.’”
Humphry added that while displays, packaging and discounts help generate quick sales, they don’t create lasting relationships with customers. Instead, he focuses on making a connection with the customer and sharing the story of their farm, the land, how the items are made and why.
For Malkiewicz, the design of the collection is very much part of the selling feature. She and her design team refer to websites like Pinterest for inspiration and to the design world for product and merchandising ideas.
In cases where customers are stumped when it comes to merchandising, Malkiewicz and her team provide help. For example, while customers love the 12-by-12-inch giftwrap in the collection, she learned that many retailers didn’t have the proper displays in which to merchandise them. For retailers who need merchandising inspiration, she directs them to their “Creative Retailing” section of their website (http://canvascorpbrands.com), which provides ideas. The email newsletter also provides merchandising ideas.
Another benefit Canvas Corp Brands offers all its retail customers is building planograms. Consumers who support the food-to-table movement or crave feelings of returning to their rural roots will appreciate retailers who offer a curated selection of farmhouse chic merchandise either to use or display within their home.