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Tips By Merchandising Guru Ali Levy,

As the temperature outside is rising, thoughts turn to weekend beach escapes and sprucing up our gardens, not to mention sprucing up ourselves after being enveloped in wool and down for the past several months.  And the time has come to slip into something a bit more lightweight and shake off the long winter.  These are the dog days of summer. 
In April’s SIA Newsletter we talked about Thinking Globally and Merchandising Locally.  Now, if you failed shop class like me, listen up, because this month it’s all about displays you can create with items from your local dollar store.  Dollar stores offer a treasure trove of inexpensive ideas that can be easily installed without breaking a sweat or the bank.  To help you get inspired I’ve pulled together some merchandising themes that can work whether you sell outdoor gear and apparel or patio furniture and grills in the summer months.   And I found a great craft site while doing some research for this article – where you can find fake grass, rocks – you name it!

Beach Blanket Bingo!
Even if you are landlocked like I am here in Teton Valley, summer is synonymous with water – whether it’s an alpine lake or the Jersey Shore.  A colorful and attention grabbing beach display can entice customers to buy another pair of flip flops, shorts or a great summer dress. 

This is a clever way to use beach balls by hanging them from the ceiling.  You just need some fishing line or thin grade wire and thumb tacks to attach. 

And available at your local dollar store…..for one dollar!

This display courtesy of Lululemon, asks, “Are you ready for bikini season?”  What you’ll need is construction paper, crayons or colored pencils, clothespins and some twine, all available from your local dollar store. 

Why not pick up some colorful additions such as pails and shovels, Frisbees or water guns.  If you have the space – a kiddie pool would be great to fill with things like flip flops and sunscreen along with some of these pails.    

How Green is Your Garden?
I like garden themed displays because you can get as creative as you want.  Dollar stores stock not only fake plants (although real ones are great too!) and flowers, but gardening gloves, tools, planters and even garden gnomes!

o.k., the person that created this installation definitely got an “A” in shop.    ABC Home in NYC featured a series of garden inspired windows.  This one focuses on building at- home gardens.

The floor is covered with dirt – a bold move if you dare.

Kitschy items like these are a great way to add some humor to your display.  These are fun to use in window displays and carry the gardening theme throughout your store.  If you have tables in your shoe department, create a story with frogs, water specific sandals or rubber shoes/ boots.

All of these items are generally sold at Dollar stores.

Color My World!
We are all driven by color.  It’s one of the best merchandising tools to have in your back pocket.   Try using different mediums such as colored pencils, containers, paper, fake flowers, and even sports drinks to highlight vibrant colors in packs, shoes and clothing. 

This was a display I did for the Cloudveil Flagship store in Jackson Hole.  Total cost?  Four bucks. 

This is another example of how to use inexpensive dollar store items.  I bought a few packs of colored pencils and put them in plastic cups that matched one of the jackets.  You could use glass Mason jars, vases or galvanized buckets as well. 

This window was created by using LOTS of pieces of fabric rolled and secured to a backdrop and mimics the colors in the dress featured.  This is more involved and you could look for materials at a craft or sewing shop, but great inspiration nonetheless. 

Here is another idea I love.  Buy colored tape and create shapes inside your window display area.  The shapes can reference what you have on display.  You can spell something out if you like.  You are only limited by your imagination!

So as the dog days of summer hit, be sure to check out your local dollar store to change it up the season!

View past merchandising articles our Merchandising Mondays quicktips at