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SIA Merchandising: Window Display Tips from Start-to-Finish


By: Ali Levy
August 6, 2014

Download the Flipping the Switch: Window Display Addendum from SIA 

Any good display window is a workhorse when it comes to visual merchandising. Window displays can tell several product stories at once, create local buzz, showcase the brands you stock, convey the philosophy of your store, not to mention attract customers simply by engaging them as they pass by.

This month’s Window Display Addendum focuses on window displays and provides guidelines, practical advice and ideas for merchandising windows worthy of Fifth Avenue in NYC and those of a more modest make. There are always ways to augment less-than-optimal window space, as there are ways to crank up the volume for windows with great visibility.


Photo courtesy of Skirack, Burlington, VT

When it comes to enviable display windows Skirack in Burlington, VT is one to add to the list.

Situated on Main Street in bustling downtown Burlington, Skirack, which opened its doors in 1969, is located within walking distance to the University of Vermont’s centrally located campus, as well as pedestrian friendly Church Street – a mix of lively outdoor cafes and Burlington’s retail epicenter.

Karen George, one of the owners, shared some of what goes on behind the scenes to make Skirack’s windows come to life every week as well as some helpful hints for staying organized and on schedule when it comes to window installations.

One of the first things you notice about Skirack’s windows is that they try to showcase as many different activities as possible. There will always be a window dedicated to bikes, a window dedicated to sportswear/lifestyle options, and a seasonal display of swim, paddling, skiing or snowboarding.

A contract window dresser that has worked with Skirack for the past 10 years works with George to map out window features 3-to-4 months in advance, including graphic needs.

The next step is to fill out a sign request form. Skirack has invested in a large-format vinyl lettering printer and software so it is able to create specific graphics whenever they are needed. It also allows them to stay on top of updating pricing for in-store promotions.Skirack2

This is their sign-making machine (above). With a little research you can locate one on Amazon for around $500.

Next step is selecting the merchandise and vendor POP to go along with it. Keeping signs, banners and display items organized like this keeps everything in good shape and makes items easy to locate.




The next step is the installation. Skirack’s visual merchandiser works weekly on a rotating schedule with the three main window sections. This way, each window section is changed approximately every three weeks.

The finished result:


Tour de France window

swim window

Swim window


Sportswear and Triathlon window


Custom vinyl lettering gives you the freedom to show your range of products.

Karen Georges’ top three tips for successful windows:

  1. Make your window schedule 3-4 months in advance. This time frame is manageable and keeps you on track.
  2. Make staff accountable for window displays. Windows need to be maintained when the merchandiser isn’t there, especially if something in the display is sold out.
  3. Clean windows = great visibility. Skirack has its windows cleaned weekly. This is especially important on a busy thoroughfare.

COVERRead on in the Window Display Addendum for more on what makes a good or bad display, as well as tips and tools to get people talking about your enviable window displays!