Volume 47, Issue 2 - February 2012


Retail Review
Expert Showroom Designers Critique This Reader’s Shop

Our Judges

Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. He currently serves as an industry consultant and USGlass columnist.

Jerry Birnbach
is a partner with RDD Associates, a multi-disciplined retail design firm in Somers, N.Y., with expertise in store design, display design, showroom design and trade show concepts. Birnbach has 35 years of retail design experience. For more information, visit www.rddassociatesinc.com.

Jeff Grant
is the owner of TRIO Display, a specialty retail design and consulting firm in San Diego. Over 28 years, Grant has worked on projects with the Reagan Library, Orange County Choppers, Phoenix Art Museum, Hollywood Bowl, Disney, Universal Studios, the U.S. Olympic Committee and numerous professional teams. For more information visit www.triodesigngroup.com.

Most people are used to looking through glass, not at it. That’s just one reason an effective glass retail showroom can be a tricky proposition. In order to continue to improve his retail space, one USGlass reader and glass shop owner responded to request to submit photographs of his showroom for expert critique.

The Shop Owner noted with his submission, “Years ago we remodeled our storefront. Large windows were split up to update the appearance along with awnings, giving our store a much-needed facelift. The ramp going in from the front door has railing with glass with our company logo offset by smaller rain-glass pieces (replacing the wrought iron from 1972). Straight ahead at the top of the ramp is our window display and off to the right is our shower door area, which we intend to expand this winter.”
Our judges had plenty of input for this shop owner’s design that may well apply to your next showroom makeover.



Jerry Birnbach: Creating permanent vignette walls limits the retailer. Retail and product is about “new,” so the best items need to be updated when manufacturers introduce a new line. There is much more variety available when the actual product is presented to the customer. White display on floor is meaningless and appears to be an afterthought. More attention was spent on the floor than on providing a compelling visual presentation.

Paul Bieber: Nice display of windows with a literature rack. It shows different styles, colors and types of windows. There should be a sign on the windows shouting “energy efficient with low-E glass!” Do any of the windows tilt-in for easy cleaning? A sign here would pique customer interest.

Jeff Grant: Windows on display need to have signage describing their value proposition. Let the customer understand the product benefits without having to chase down a salesperson.

Jerry Birnbach: Shower doors require a vast amount of specifications and details. One sample is not going to sell the item correctly. Along with a vignette there needs to be frame metal finishes, extrusion availability, special condition solutions, glass types and much more. The whole story needs to be pulled together to address any concern the consumer might have. This is a shot in the dark and most customers need to see their exact condition with solutions. This presentation does not offer that opportunity to the customer.

Jeff Grant: The best sales tools are often imagery or graphics that provide a preview of the product in place with features described. Those types of images should be consistent throughout the showroom. Store windows should be used to encourage walk by traffic to come in to see the show and destination customers to explore products that may not have been on their radar. Plants should not interrupt the visuals or the traffic pattern.

Paul Bieber: A very pretty shower door display, but there is nothing here that says we sell shower doors in many styles and colors. The two small displays on the floor should be on tables for ease of viewing. There is empty wall space that should have a framed mirror, or a Starphire™ mirror and regular mirror comparison. The beveled mirror above the small table should have one side with a ½-inch bevel, one side with a 1-inch bevel, one side with a flat polish and one side with a seamed edge.

Paul Bieber: I like this picture. It shows a neat, clean and well thought out customer entrance. I like that different types of glass are shown on the sides of the walkway. There should be a sign there indicating “These are just a few of the many types of glass we carry.” There is a “V” sandblasted in the glass. Again, promote the fact that we do custom sandblasting for commercial and residential glass. A customer looking into the showroom, from the street, may see the plants. I suggest a nice all-glass table displaying different colors of metals available for storefronts, different styles of metal and stressing energy savings metals for new and renovated storefronts.

Jeff Grant: Store entries should be expansive and open. Large storefront windows are a gift, so make sure they are used to promote the stores merchandise and branding.

Jerry Birnbach: First impressions are vital. Although this is a clean entrance, it is lacking excitement and information. Branding is key and the space lacks logos and signage as to the offering within the store. The perimeter glass allows for many more sample of glass types, frames and products to be reaching outside the store for potential customers passing by. Every plant is a lost opportunity to be selling product that is relevant to the customer needs. I believe in show-and-tell stories of items, features, benefits, advantages, price consideration and guarantee messages. Most important should be the actual stores points of difference telling the customer why to shop with and trust this retailer.

Jerry Birnbach
: There is a lack of substance in this product offering. The presentation can be visually taken in quickly, and cast off as of no interest. The key to selling glass is to be able to move customers around the store and have them want to spend more time, due to interest, seeing options. The more time you can keep the shoppers’ interest the better chance you have to sell them into your product and service. You have a limited attention span and this empty visual experience will not hold their attention for long.

Paul Bieber: Not much to say here. It shows a lot of empty space that could be used for additional products, such as a nice all-glass table or a display of different shower door hardware colors and styles.

Jeff Grant: Wall space is valuable and should be filled with products or graphics. Store displays need to be compelling, so make sure every available wall area is reviewed for merchandising opportunities.

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