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Cinde W. Ingram

Winning displays -- Colorful, playful and fun

June 3, 2011

When I called Ashleigh Kosin to let her know our judges had selected Bell Tower Outdoor Living Company as our Merchandising Awards' Best First-Time Entry, she said her store has been "crazy busy" since the weather turned.
I later talked with a sales rep who calls on the Southwest Michigan store that Kosin and her husband Jack opened in 2008. "They've got a lot going on in that store," he said. That much was apparent through the more than 15 high-quality photographs the Kosins submitted to enter our contest. In addition to outdoor furniture and accessories, Bell Tower offers a large selection of Life is Good apparel, swing sets, play sets, trampolines and water sports equipment. Each product is intended for outdoor use and offered in easy-to-clean materials.
Cheerful and sunny were words that repeated as our panel of judges reviewed photos made inside and outside the Richland, Mich., store. In several vignettes, it was easy to understand how the store uses themes and signage to immediately explain the groupings being promoted. Repeated items in some displays create dramatic visual impressions. Vertical and horizontal elements combine in tight groupings to allow plenty of products to be shown.
Although retailers remain cautious, our How's Business retail survey shows half are seeing an increase in casual furnishings sales. They also have responded to economic pressures by adding lower price points to their mix and keeping inventory levels lean.
You'll see more about the retail survey and winners of this year's Merchandising Awards contest inside this issue and on our website. Hope the weather in your area has turned in a way that keeps your business busy, too.