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Merchandising: Home on the Range

June 6, 2016 | 0 Comments

I just moved back west after spending almost four years living in Vermont.   In thirteen years I have moved five times.  This most recent move to Montana makes six.  And with each move, either for personal or professional reasons, I drink in the local culture.  I go see the places everyone should see.  I love to explore and learn and see new things.

And what better way to get to know a place than to visit local shops and get a feel for the community.  And here in Bozeman, where I currently reside, there has been a boom going on for several years.  Boom in terms of growth – or as some refer to it – urban sprawl. Not all sprawl is bad.  Sure, with growth comes increased traffic, housing costs and need for natural resources.  But with growth/sprawl, hope springs eternal.  Neglected, seemingly out of the way spaces have become hotbeds of retail activity in and around the city of Bozeman.  The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in both the retail landscape.  There is an interesting mix of architecture as well, as new homes go up and old homes are torn down.  There is a lot of interesting stuff going on here.

Bozeman is at once a college town and home to big name outdoor brands like Simms, Oboz, Duckworth and Mystery Ranch; Outsideonline.com dubbed Montana the Silicon Valley for Outdoor Gear in September 2015.  But it’s also a tourist destination, with Yellowstone a little under two hours away. It’s a fly fisherman’s paradise.  It’s home to famous writers, athletes and movie stars.  Not to mention two amazing ski areas, Big Sky and Bridger Bowl.  Whew.

There are several shopping areas around Bozeman.  You have everything from your garden-variety big box retailers to locally owned specialty outdoor stores, restaurants and boutiques.  So allow me to share some of my favorite finds from the historic downtown Main Street.  You can find everything from hardware stores to genuine vintage western wear to Montana State University Bobcat logo wear to upscale women’s clothing to the Community food Co Op.

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Duckworth is a Montana wool clothing company.  The wool is locally sourced and manufactured.  This window display tells a wonderful local story, complete with skeins of wool, images and a nice logo decal.  Definitely take advantage of brands based in your hometown.  They should be more than happy to showcase their products with custom point of sale props made just for your shop.

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Above is a picture of a window display for a restaurant/bar.  I like that this display very clearly let’s people walking by know that they have food, a patio and beer.  Also they support MSU sports teams and I found this to be very creative and inviting for a restaurant.

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This store, called Hey Day is a browser’s dream.  They sell everything from candles and cards to colorful insulated lunch boxes to gardens in a bag.  Literally there is something for everyone.  I like the store’s linear floorplan.  Products are neatly organized and grouped by theme. I like the shelving fixtures on casters.  They hold a lot of product, are a simple design and modular.  The wood floor is beautiful too.

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This shop cleverly transformed a fixed pillar in the window into a tree by simply wrapping brown kraft paper around it, adding branches and some green at the base to simulate grass.  This is a wonderful way to make use of a structural beam or post.

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This was a paint display in an Ace Hardware store on historic Main Street.  I love this idea.  How much fun would this be to use for displaying brightly colored ski outerwear or hard goods.  I’m not super crafty, but I think I could try my hand at this.

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I have spotted several of these outdoor graphics supporting the public library in Bozeman.  With some online research you could probably find a company that manufactures graphics meant for exterior spaces.  This is a creative way to use empty space and brighten up any dead space.

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Finally, I couldn’t help but just love this idea I saw outside of a ski shop at Bridger Bowl.  I couldn’t get close enough to see just how this was done, but hats off. I wish I thought of this!

Please have fun discovering new neighborhoods, new towns and cities.  We are all in the same game together and I really value seeing what other independent retailers are doing with their windows, especially in a place as eclectic as Bozeman.  I can’t wait to discover more!  Feel free to share some of your favorite hometown photos with me and SIA!

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