IF YOU’VE GOT ‘em, flaunt ‘em, when it comes to storefront windows. “You can read a book by its cover,” says Lyn Falk, CEO and president of Retailworks in Milwaukee. “Window displays tell a lot about the store’s brand and personality; there are so many ways to message what the store is about.”
A layered approach is important, especially with jewelry. Visual merchandisers strive to capture attention from afar with large objects, and then engage passersby again with more detail when they’re up close. So, much depends on whether the store traffic is vehicular or pedestrian (or both).
Falk recommends changing the overall window design five times a year — for the four seasons and again for the Christmas holidays — but refreshing them more often by changing the product displayed.
Where security is a concern, jewelry stores can use large photos of their product for display in windows. Movement in displays can be exceptionally eye-catching, but when motion detectors are sensitive to any movement up front, it’s important to find ways to tie down or glue down displays and then to simulate movement by layering display items. Reflective vinyl and paper elements can add much needed sparkle. Finally, don’t neglect lighting your window displays. Opt for clear, bright lights without yellow tones with good strong lumen output.
As for inspiration, Pinterest and Instagram are good virtual sources. Suzanne Rafenstein, director of the display department for RetailWorks, also suggests window shopping when visiting other cities and paying attention to visual cues, whether in store windows or museum displays. “It’s helpful to get out of your area, comfort zone and box, and explore somewhere different,” she says.
At Ellie Thompson & Co., Chicago, an annual holiday window decorating contest is judged by local residents. “Our marketing philosophy is best described as hyper-local, so our window displays relate to the activities of the neighborhood,” Thompson says. Her windows are regularly painted by a local artist, who also creates original works for other retailers on the block, for a cohesive theme, such as an annual Winterfest. The Chamber of Commerce and the neighborhood association play a big role in coordinating and subsidizing creative efforts that contribute to the festive feel of the neighborhood, she says.
Steve Quick Jewelers in Chicago is known for going all out with window displays, says Melissa Quick. With a small storefront on a high-traffic city street, “the more we can do to grab attention, the better.” One memorable example? Star Wars windows with each case dedicated to a specific movie set, curated by Steve and Melissa’s nephew with his own action figures. “We actually had people coming in off the street to tell us how amazing this display was,” Melissa says. Their windows have also played host to rubber chickens, to creepy porcelain doll heads for Halloween, a tribute to David Bowie, in conjunction with a museum exhibit, and the Chicago Marathon, the year Melissa ran in it. “Right now, we have a whole professional wresting theme,” Quick says. “Our windows are really epic!”
Alice Sundbom of Atelier d’Emotion in Soho, New York City, used her windows as a selling point during pandemic shutdowns and brought merchandise out to shoppers on the street. Window displays remain essential to her business, telling a compelling story and providing a snapshot of the eclectic works of art passersby can expect to see when they venture inside.
Heralding the Holidays
Retailworks Inc. used larger than life holiday ornaments to create the theme at Diedrich Jewelers of Ripon, WI. Minimalist decor delivered maximum impact by bringing joy to shoppers, the community and nearby businesses, proving that a simple yet strategic design can brighten the holidays. The inflatable, rubber-like ornaments are the size and shape of yoga balls and can be deflated, stored and used again. The jewelry display platforms were changed throughout the holiday 2021 season.
Past and Present
For holiday 2021 windows at Patina Gallery in Santa Fe, NM, owner Ivan Barnett and team blended nostalgic antique trains with road sign furniture by artist Boris Bally and an image of a famous Ferrari race car, with contemporary jewelry sprinkled in, for an eclectic and intriguing vignette.
Inspired by the beauty of rice paper, the display artists at Retailworks Inc. designed and fabricated red and white Christmas trees made of rice paper and wood for Kesslers Diamonds’ downtown Milwaukee, WI, location. Within each tree are diamond-cut shapes that reflect the nature of the store’s business and branding color, red. Surrounding the winter scene are suspended 3D printed diamonds, and as the sun filters through the windows, the delicate sheerness of the rice paper with its crackling composition provides the illusion of a sheet of ice. Another component of this layered window design is the oversized versions of Kesssler Diamonds’ iconic red gift boxes.
Daniela Balzano of Water Street Jewelers in Connecticut likes to create windows with bright pops of color to celebrate each season in her pedestrian-friendly locations. “Putting a little extra time into window presentation has made a big difference for us,” she says. “We have used old ladders as shelving units, dressed mannequins, displayed live plants, hung paper cranes, there’s always something fun happening in our front windows.” One staff member curates an area called “Minetta’s Pick of the Day”; customers often come in to purchase those showcased pieces. Pictured is the January 2022 window at her Madison, CT, store. The windows are updated each month.
Like a Lazy Susan
When Ragnar Bertlesen of Ragnar Jewelers in Vancouver, BC, remodeled her showroom, she redesigned showcases so that they rotate. It’s simple to access items displayed in the window by rotating the cases, making selling in the showroom simpler.
At Barry Peterson Jewelers in Ketchum, ID, the strategy is to dedicate each window to a trending look, alternating between gender specific/gender neutral and youth/mature style options. Each window also has a specific object supporting the window’s theme, such as an hourglass in the classics-themed window, or succulents and butterflies for their spring styles. Curator Rebecca Larson saves dried flower arrangements for use in the window displays.
This is Us
Karen Hollis of K Hollis Jewelers in Batavia, IL, commissioned an artist to paint her windows. “I really want to set a vibe right when you walk in that this is a fun relaxed atmosphere, that this is us. It’s nice to know talented people who can paint what ideas you have. As jewelers, we get to do that every day but to be on the receiving end and watch it turn into a masterpiece touched my heart.”
Clean and Classic
“We always dress our windows up seasonally and this is our November window,” says Marc Majors of Sam L. Majors in Midland, TX. “We keep it clean and classic. Nothing cheesy and nothing gimmicky.