Christmas retail wonderland in Paris

All these pictures, taken in the run-up to Christmas in Paris, show just how flamboyant retailers need to be in order to get noticed.

Now we can pinch their ideas to bring some life into our garden centres for kick-starting the new season.

Imagination

How's this for subtlety and irony? They've used a skeleton to sell skincare products. It certainly stopped me in my tracks. I love it. It's sheer genius, and what better time than New Year to think outside the box?

Steps

If we can write "mind the step" on our steps, why shouldn't we use them to prepare our customers for what's in store and get them in the mood? Customers look at the steps to make sure they don't trip. Let's use our steps to sell.

 

Bell jar

This shoe shop used a horticultural bell jar to highlight the latest designs. It's so simple and it works a treat. We can use this idea to highlight anything from a new range of pots to a new plant variety.

 

Dancing bears

These dancing bears were promoting Mamma Mia: their arms and legs were moving in different directions and they were dressed in scuba gear! I can't tell you how many people just stopped and stared. Animation attracts.

Drink stations

At key times like Easter and bank holidays our cafes are packed out and we want customers to eat rather than just have a cup of tea. Why not introduce drink stations in outside areas of garden centres?

Flowers

 

This store is selling children's spring clothing. The whole back section is covered with flowers and look how well-lit it is - almost like a theatre set. Flowers are our forte, but how many garden centres can you walk through without seeing a single one?

Bags on the pavement

Would you want to walk into this store? In January and February, gardens do not look their best, but garden centres have to. I know most plants are dormant, so let's use pansies, violas - anything that evokes spring.

Tables

 

Glass-topped tables are crying out to be used not just to advertise products but to project a particular message. What about hints for March and April, or a profile of the plant manager? Subtle selling breeds success.

 

Novelty display

This window display is spectacular and it is nothing more than a pile of suitcases. We have got plenty of large windows, so why not select a product - pots, maybe, of different sizes and colours - and stack 'em high.

 

 

 

 

Suspended parcels

Once the Christmas decorations come down, a garden centre can feel bare. Most of us have got tall greenhouses with ceiling space to spare and if we choose our suspended products with care, there's no reason not to do it.


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