SIA's Latest

Merchandising Lessons Learned: Do You Have a Tangerine Dream?


Tips By Merchandising Guru Ali Levy,
There is no denying it… it’s clear that color – lively, traffic light colors are back in a big way. Whether it’s in the form of sunglass frames, waterproof zippers, or pants in a shocking, vibrant hue; bright, happy colors are all around us.

Buying into a seasonal color trend may seem risky. When offered a color over a neutral, you may be surprised to find that consumers may opt for the former. It is true that color sells color and it can pay off in a number of ways by attracting new customers, cashing in on impulse buys and elevating your status as a well merchandised shop where you can find the most current trends in outdoor apparel and equipment. Orange is one color that has been getting more and more attention.

From big statement pieces to shocks of orange as supporting players, orange has become a fierce darling of many outdoor and snow sports manufacturers. Not only does orange serve as a great pop of color to many neutrals, but it seems to be making friends with hot pink, purple and royal blue as well. And as a visual merchandiser, orange is one example of a color worth trying because it’s a shade that can be used as a continuous theme throughout your product presentation.

Jen Zollars, owner of STYLE inc. explains it this way, “Orange from an emotional color view point is the color linked to happiness. So, putting a few dollars into this color especially after the hard winter is not a bad idea. As is instantly says I am ready for some sunshine.” Additionally, Jen offers, “The color orange is also a color that is an approaching color, meaning it draws your eye to it before other colors. This can be a great tool to use for spots in your store that don’t see as much traffic. A dark spot that doesn’t get enough light, bringing the customer back to an area that might be farther than they want to go or usually go, a four way with new items on it that is behind other fixtures.”

And keep in mind second and third deliveries. Heed Jen’s advice, “…orange is a great flow color. Flow colors are colors that can connect deliveries to one another. Orange is great color to bring up the energy of blues, and can just as easily be feminine with purples. It is a color that really goes well with neutrals like olives, browns, and taupes.”

So here are some tips for committing to a bright color story:

  • Of all the vibrant color options out there, commit to at least two. Most bright’s work surprisingly well with neutral tones. And ideally you would like to offer your customer three color options for outerwear.
  • Keep these chosen colors in mind when reviewing accessories from the same vendor. Companies have designers to merchandise color stories from outerwear to base layer to hats and gloves. Take advantage of this work already done for you and accessorize your heart out!
  • Look to other vendors to compliment assortments. Goggles, helmets, skis, socks are excellent items to display with your seasonal brights.
  • What better way to get creative with in store displays and window ideas. Look to other retailers for ideas and inspiration, such as CB2, Urban Outfitters, art supply stores and even Whole Foods!

Websites to Checkout:

  • Check out Jen Zollars’ website: While she doesn’t work directly with retailers just yet, her website is inspirational and her background in outdoor apparel makes her a qualified expert on the subject.
  • Display and Design Ideas is a terrific snapshot of what is new and happening in the world of retail design.
  • Crate and Barrel’s inexpensive urban off-shoot has great display ideas that you can buy and use in your store, like the potted grass in the picture featured below.
  • Paco Underhill’s website for all things current in retail. From case studies, to good reads, to Q&A with one of the greats, spend some time perusing this site.

SIA is working with visual merchandising consultant Ali Levy, to provide retailers with some fresh merchandising ideas for increasing sales and interest with consumers. Levy’s impressive resume includes managing retail, buying and merchandising efforts for some of the industry’s biggest names including The North Face, SmartWool, Cloudveil and Marmot. For more information her company, contact Ali at