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Earth Day 2015 & SIA Snow Show DIY Session Recap

April 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Earth Day is April 22 this year.  In honor of this important landmark, I once again turn to the almighty dumpster as a receptacle, not for junk, but rather a treasure trove of castaway items just waiting to find new homes. I presented a DIY Displays on a Budget session at this year’s SIA Snow Show and have pulled together some of my favorite nuggets of creative and inspirational ideas for you this month. Also, take a look back at the great 2015 SIA Snow Show merchandising inspiration with the Merchandising Guide Addendum: Snow Show Highlights.


There’s gold in them dumpsters!

 Dumpster Diving

I hate to sound like a broken record here – but dang if I don’t find some of the best things to use in displays in the trash.  Wood pallets are a common material used by many a retailer because they can be transformed into useful stages to display a multitude of products.  They look great as is in their natural state or you can spray paint and/or decorate them for more pop.


Add industrial piping and you have a set of nesting tables.


Cut them. They make great shoe shelves.


By attaching pallets to walls – you can make use of space where you can’t typically install slatwall or other wall hanging systems.  This process also opens up new display areas in spots that occupy dead retail space.  Never waste empty wall space again.


You can stack pallets low to the ground to create height to display items.

 Mother Nature’s Display Outlet – How may we help you?

Wood is a favorite display material because its easy to source and can be transformed in numerous ways – for very little cost.


Painting wood pieces makes this stump a piece of art.


After a few layers of lacquer and metallic paint, this tree stump looks downright elegant.


Make a small table…


Or collect smaller pieces of wood to display hats and other accessories.  Grab some pine cones while you are out foraging for displays in the forest.


If you are uber crafty, making a table out of a large tree trunk adds a touch of nature to your store. The result is an expensive looking piece of original furniture.



Industrial sized wooden spools like this one are a fantastic find.


By using dowels to separate skis or snowboards, this spool shows off hardgoods quite well.


This is a resourceful way to use giant spools used by phone companies. If you are lucky, you can spot them on the sides of the roads. I’m not supporting outright thievery – but you can ask if they are up for grabs at any telecom type business.

 Apple Crates

You can find crates of all sizes online from craft supply sites, or scour local businesses for any extras they may be looking to get rid of, like natural grocers.  Hit up yard sales too.


Booth prep at this year’s SIA Snow Show making good use of pallets and crates.


Stack crates to display any number of items, like these ski hats I saw at the show this year.


Use apple crates to elevate – like these mannequins at the Atomic booth this year.


Don’t forget you can paint apple crates to brighten them up.

Raid your own attic – or someone else’s.

Do you have some used furniture stowed away in an attic or storage unit?  Dressers, tables and chairs all make great display pieces in a store.  Hit some yard sales on the weekends and see what deals you can score.


An old chest of drawers is perfect for displaying small items, or things like ski socks and base layer – items you would normally store in a dresser.


A pool table is perfectly at home in any men’s clothing section.


Roadside antique and thrift stores are chock full of vintage furniture finds.

Books:  Not just for reading.

Books are a terrific item to merchandise with.  You can buy loads and loads of books for next to nothing at places like The Salvation Army and Goodwill stores.  Books provide color, height and visual interest.


In this eyeglass store, sections of colored books demarcate frames in similar color families.


This store made a Christmas tree out of books.


This store made a circle of paperbacks by drilling each book and threading them together with heavy grade fishing line for a back to school display.  It’s clever and eye catching.

Make each display an Earth Day display.

I’ve never had the luxury of having a large display budget in any given position during my merchandising career.  I have always worked on a shoestring.  So I scour Dollar stores, thrift shops – and yes – on occasions – dumpsters.  Trying to create something out of nothing is a challenge I welcome with open arms.  Because at the end of the day I know I have made something truly unique.  I’m not always successful, mind you. Some of my creations looked more like a 3 year old’s art project (not that there is anything wrong with that!) But overall it always brings me great satisfaction to know I wasn’t wasteful with money or materials.  Plus sharing DIY display ideas with other stores and colleagues means we share a sense of a greener community.

Wishing you a Happy Earth Day!  What will you do to make your day a bit greener?

COVERAnd don’t forget to check out this month’s Merchandising Addendum, which is all about the 2015 SIA Snow Show – recapping some of the show floor’s most innovative displays of all shapes, sizes and budgets!

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