Antiques: A Story To Tell

We have a guest post today from Debi Ward Kennedy. She has years and years of experience as a retail display and marketing guru that has translated into a vintiques business she owns with her husband.
We all love a good story, don’t we?

Hearing a funny one can brighten our spirits, while listening to a tale of heroism bolsters our strength.

Have you ever considered that the way you present your business, your products, your services, is YOUR story to tell? That the way you present your products can speak volumes to your customers AT FIRST GLANCE?

It’s true.

You can begin to ‘Tell Your Story’ from the moment that potential customers first view your business.

My goal as a retail consultant has been to help every business discover what their unique story IS, and then relay it to customers in an effective and original way. Over 35 years, I’ve been able to assist thousands of retailers achieve success in the way they present their businesses and products. I’ve done this through the displays and stores I have designed for them, the articles I have written for magazines, blogs and websites, and by presenting seminars at national gift shows. Those retailers have run the gamut from corporate wineries and independent home d├ęcor boutiques to artisans and antique dealers who sell at shows and in malls and galleries.

The same basic guidelines work for all of them, because the Story is all in the ‘Telling’… each business uses elements that help them stand out from the competition. (Much like the way a good story or joke is told with voice inflection, pauses, facial expressions, and a good summary or punch line!)

One of those elements is how you display your goods.

Visual merchandising/display is the process of thoughtfully presenting your products. Whether you do that in an online venue like eBay or Etsy or your own web store, in a retail store of your own, in a rented space within an antique mall or cooperative, or as a vendor at shows, it is important to maximize this part of your business in a busy and often overwhelmingly ‘similar’ marketplace. At shows and malls, your ‘competition’ is literally inches away from you…. making your booth and your products stand out from the crowd is paramount to getting noticed! You certainly don’t want to look just like the guy next door. (Do you?)

Increasing your ‘visual impact’ – which is the way that your customers SEE your business and products – starts helping you to sell without speaking a word. It’s the equivalent to the great opening line of a story or joke, and catches people’s attention: A customer coming down the aisle at a show sees a fabulous color, or item, or setting in the booth in front of them, and they are intrigued to come closer and discover more.

As the customer comes closer, a bit more detail in the displays is revealed, drawing them INTO your booth to investigate further. The customer is now in proximity to you, the salesperson - or, in the case of mall space, to your signage and price tags. Either one serves the purpose of providing information and detail about the products…telling more of the story.

The customer is now actively participating in the selling process by looking closely, touching, perhaps picking up (trying ON, maybe?) your products. Here is where you give them the full story: You inform and entertain by offering more information on the items, sharing alternative uses and added value, why this is an opportunity not to be missed.

You make the visual impact so strong, so intriguing to them, that they cannot resist the pull to take a part of it home with them. Even if they purchase only a small something, they can own a bit of the magic that you have created and introduced them to. With them, they take your information so that they can be sure to visit you again and repeat the experience. This is how you use the story you tell to sell products – but also to create an experience, build a brand and develop a fan base.

As a part of my seminar ‘Tell Your Own Story’, I offer an outline of the basics in displaying products and designing retail space. In 2009, I created a new version specifically for antique dealers. It contains dozens of basic and advanced tips on maximizing your visual impact, and will help you plan and develop the Story that you will tell through your booth’s appearance. I’d love to share it with you, to assist you in discovering and telling YOUR story!

You can access the document here ( and also find it on the sidebar links on my Retail Design Website ( ). Please feel free to use it to develop your own visual plan, and share the link to it as you wish. The material contained within that document is my original work, and is not to be used in any book, article, blog post, class, seminar, or other method of sharing with others for profit or press. Contact me via email for permissions at

My website ALSO features six videos about retail display & merchandising – I produced the series in 2008 for the Gift & Home Channel, and filmed at The Farm Chicks Antique Show in Spokane, Washington. You’ll find a plethora of inspiring ideas, tips, and examples of successful booth design and display in those videos.

My Retail Design Blog, accessible from my website, offers resources on every aspect of display and retail visual merchandising – literally hundreds of links, articles, tips, photos, books, videos, and more.

While I am providing those resources online, with a limited availability of private consulting and speaking/writing engagements, I am focused on utilizing my experience and abilities in our own Vintage Industry business: Retreat . I invite you to come and introduce yourselves if you are at a show that we are selling at! Our 2011 schedule is on our website.

Content of attachment and this post is original content property of Debi Ward Kennedy Copyright 2008, 2010. |

1 comment:

vogue living said...

This is really a very helpful place for the persons who are looking for buying or selling the antique things, as here is a variety of every kind of antiques such as jewelries, Crockery, Furniture and many more. Thanks for share this informative post.