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Cinde W. Ingram

Show and tell how to sell outdoors

May 1, 2007

Maybe it's just the change of seasons as we move toward the promise of warmer days ahead.

Advertisements for performance fabrics entice consumers to move outdoors and make a statement.

You may notice more ads from outdoor furniture, lighting, pool, spa, grill and even drapery manufacturers as you're reading consumer magazines like Architectural Digest this month. Some of the ads include enough elements to help consumers visualize what they can aspire to for their outdoor living rooms, which are the new home decorating frontier. Those ads can be the seeds of inspirations. For example, in years past, my mother used to rip photos and ads out of magazines and keep them in an idea file, which she referred to when my parents built their dream home. One result was that she and my grandfather, a contractor, created the best closet I ever had.

Last month at the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo, the Outdoor Living booth again provided merchandising ideas retailers can use to increase sales by adding layers of accessories to create an experience for their customers to want at their homes. Retailers stopped at the booth to plan their shopping strategies and garner ideas inside the Outdoor Living area, brought to the show for a third year by Casual Living and HPBA, and sponsored by O.W. Lee, Dimplex, Duracord Textiles, Shuford Mills Outdura, Cal Spas and Open Air Designs.

The designer for the space for the third year was Mark Abrams, a product and showroom designer and former retailer who also is a part of our annual Merchandising Awards. The best-in-show winner of the contest will have Mark in their store for a day to give advice on ways to enhance the shopping experience.

Don't forget to take photos of your store(s) now that you have it ready for the 2007 season and send those images to Associate Editor Courtney Mueller. A panel of judges will study your photos at the beginning of next month to pick winners of our annual Merchandising Awards competition. For more details on entering, see page 47. Send us your best shots and make a statement.

Some of you were at the HPB Expo in Reno and others were at the High Point Market late last month. Hopefully by now, you've found the grills, grill accessories, furniture and outdoor accessories you were seeking for your store — and some good merchandising ideas to put the right dream in your customers' heads. It's all about surprising and delighting shoppers with new treasures and keeping them coming back searching for more.