By Whitney Stohr, SDA Executive Director
While many of our city’s small businesses have established storefronts downtown, some small business owners are blazing their own trails with a business plan that deviates from the traditional brick and mortar model.
Tiffany Hein is creative by nature, and a “maker” by choice. She is an expert in design. She collects, tinkers and creates. The focus of her product line is clothing, jewelry and home décor. Outgoing and ever cheerful, Tiffany is a ball of energy, who greets everyone with a warm hug and a bright, welcoming smile. Her energy draws people to her, and her handmade items bring them back.
Whimsical Details is best described as a “pop-up boutique.” While Tiffany’s product line can be found in shops such as Claim Clothing in downtown Ellensburg, and at her Etsy Shop online, the Whimsical Details business model has developed around the boutique’s mobility.
This non-traditional approach to business allows Tiffany the flexibility to show her items and reach customers across a wider area by popping-up in diverse locales, including farmers’ markets, craft fairs and larger, community events.
However, the Whimsical Details pop-up boutique is not your typical event vendor with items laid-out flatly on a fold-up table. Whimsical Details is pure class. Items are not only beautifully created, but beautifully displayed as well. Every element of the boutique is eye-catching and meticulously thought-out. Yet, even as a pop-up business, Tiffany has the skillset to quickly create the chic environment characteristic of a boutique, and then, just as quickly, tear it all down, pack it up and repeat the process at her next booking.
Members of Selah Downtown Association’s Economic Vitality Committee recognized Tiffany’s eye for product displays and her expertise in visual marketing, uniquely informed by her experience as a pop-up retail business.
Understanding the value added to your business, and developing skills in visual marketing, product display and storefront appeal is beneficial for small business owners, regardless of industry or sector. So, we invited Tiffany to speak at “The Roundtable: Business Academy” session on June 6th. The topic of the session was “Showcasing Your Business: Merchandise Displays & Visual Appeal.”
Drawing on her own experience as a small business owner, Tiffany provided helpful tips for other business owners to improve their own shops.
“The first step is to entice people to come into your store,” she began. She explained that “business display” is not simply about the environment inside a business, or how items are arranged, but extends to the outside of the store as well.
As a business owner, the goal is to bring customers back again and again. “Make them linger and make them want to hang out with you,” she advised.
Her second piece of advice: “If you have a window, use it to your advantage.”
She encouraged business owners to create attractive window displays, but not to worry if they don’t consider themselves the “creative” type.
“It doesn’t have to be overly elaborate,” she explained. “Please, go for it. Engage with your customer!”
She also advised business owners to switch things up every once in a while. “Rotate your window displays, so you don’t bore your customers!”
Her third piece of advice focused on ways to engage the customer once they walk in the business: “Trigger their senses. Hit them with sights, sounds, and smells.”
She suggested that businesses play background music and burn candles.
But most importantly, she offered tips to create attractive and eye-catching product displays: “When it comes to display, one of the key pieces is attracting the eye,” she explained. “Visual interest is the most important aspect of retail.”
To do this, she said, “your goal is to create height.” Adding elements to a display in order to create height generates more visual appeal than if products are all displayed at the same level. Plus, by building up, she explained, businesses can maximize the number of products included in any one display.
For her own business, Tiffany incorporates eye-catching colors and textures as well in order to enhance her display’s visual appeal. Her personal preference are items that are shiny, textured, fabric and wood. She suggested that business owners mix-and-match their items and that greenery could be used to “soften” the aesthetics of a display.
Lastly, she advised business owners to display their products at the customer’s eye-level. She explained: “If it is too low, they won’t see it, and if it is too high, they won’t reach for it.” Therefore, it is important that business owners consider “visual height” when organizing their floor space.
She used the remaining time of the meeting to discuss a fourth topic — that of “room flow.”
As with window and floor displays, she explained, it is important to regularly change-up the arrangement of the room and alter the room flow to engage customers’ interest. “Rearrange your furniture, rearrange your displays,” she said. Then, “even your regular customers will see things differently.”
During a Q&A period following her presentation, Tiffany explained that visual merchandising is equally important for online sales.
Of online shoppers, she said: “You need to make them feel like they are no longer sitting in their jammies at home. You need to make them feel like they just walked in your store.”
Speaking specifically to the topic of visual merchandising for online sales compared to in-store sales, she explained: “Your goal is still the same. Create an ambiance that makes the customer want to come back.”
Association. Whitney is originally from Yakima and holds degrees
from the University of Montana (B.A. Political Science), the
University of Florida (M.S. Ecological Restoration), Gonzaga
University School of Law (J.D.), and The George Washington
University School of Law (LL.M. International & Comparative Law).
In her free time, Whitney enjoys road trips, hiking, home
improvement projects and playing with her dogs.
Note from the Editor: This article is part of an ongoing series of posts authored by
SDA staff, volunteers and student interns that seek to highlight local businesses and
encourage residents to shop local in downtown Selah.