Well it isn’t such a huge secret if you know me, but I’m obsessed with shopping at Goodwill.  Often I’m asked where I find so many great vintage props.  I stop into Goodwill about once a week and I find treasures just about every time I go.

My last trip I lucked out by finding all these paper umbrellas for only $7.99 each (they were $10.99 and I asked for a group discount).

buying umbrellas

I’m sure you pass a Salvation Army or Goodwill all the time and haven’t thought of shopping for props for your store, but you should try it!

Here are some tips:

1)      Go down ALL the aisles.  I found the umbrellas with the tools.

2)      Check the furniture section for old trunks or furniture that just needs a coat of paint or stain.

3)      I always find old hardbound books and cool frames that are great for merchandising.

4)      Check out the kids area for vintage games.

5)      Ask for a discount-anytime you shop vintage.

hanging umbrellas

The Lizard Lounge hung these umbrellas in their entry to create a very beautiful summer display.


The great thing about these props is that you can sell them for more than you purchased when the cost is so low. Customers often want to purchase these items for their own home and this allows us to keep interesting new props rotating throughout the store.

final view

Happy Prop Shopping!

Put Your Windows to Work

Feel like your windows are plain and boring? Have large windows that are hard to fill or windows that don’t get any attention? Maybe you should consider looking into window graphics. They aren’t just for your store name and hours anymore.  The windows you’re about to see show creative ways to reach out to your customer and make them pay attention to you.

‘Made You Look’ Window

Although these next two windows express complete opposite statements, you can’t resist looking inside. Curiosity really does kill the cat.

don't look image

look window

Express Yourself

Very simply describe everything you can offer your customers.  Cool fonts help as well.

description of store window

description of store window 2

Stop and Smile Window

Using a well-selected quote like this one shoots straight to the heart and emotionally connects the dots between cooking and shopping in this store.

stop and smile window 2

How clever to take a window and make it so much more.  Although we don’t know what the name of the place is or what they are doing, we all would probably stop, point and look inside.

stop and smile window

‘Hey You … Yeah You’ Window

This graphic tells you exactly who should shop here without any mannequins or product.  Think of it as another silent sales person.

customer focused window

Social Media Window

Shamelessly create a selfie opportunity like Hugo Boss did with this marketing campaign. What a clever and fun idea to have customers use your window to take pictures (and post your store on social media for free).

social media window

If you’re out and about and see a window graphic that makes you interested in going into the store then take a picture and send it to us!

Happy Window Shopping everyone!

It’s Elementary

As I was shopping the other day, I saw Free People’s logo and remembered making something like this in elementary school.  The crafts we did as children are not only easy (I mean, they are for kids), but they are also great resources for your displays all year long.  All it takes is a simple idea with the right materials to make a beautiful display.

free people sign

yarn circles

Embroidery hoops are a great tool for hanging in your window or above a table.  They come in many sizes, and these pictures show just a few ideas of what you can put inside them.  Endless possibilities!

embroidery hoops

whole foods

Whole Foods Display

It doesn’t get much easier than making paper fans.  Using the right paper for your display is the key.  I love this J.Crew window that looks like they used magazine pages while highlighing a seasonal color pop!

jcrew fans

J.Crew Display

paper fans

Remember making ice pop stick cabins?  Maybe you just remember eating the ice pops?  This store made a great display stringing up several painted ice pop sticks.

popcicle cabin


Using the right materials, such as vintage book paper, makes a string of paper airplanes so fun and interesting.  I love how the store below made a travel theme with these simple airplanes.

paper airplanes

paper airplane travel

If you have some kids craft ideas that can turn into a window display please share them with us @


Anthropologie Windows: Inspiration and Education

Anthro butterflies 500px

Anyone in visual merchandising is aware of the lengths to which Anthropologie continues to go to create eye-catching and unique window displays. They are truly works of art that take time and planning to execute. Here is a great video showing the start-to-finish creation of Anthropologie’s Earth Day message window display.

Anthropologie: Metamorphosis – The Making of Our Earth Day Windows from Anthropologie on Vimeo.

Light it up!

Our Horny Toad store in Freeport, Maine underwent a makeover in which the team updated fixtures, painted walls, and focused on an often-neglected feature in retail stores – the lighting. Store merchandiser Liz Winter explains how you can come up with creative solutions to add interesting light fixtures that are both affordable and fun.


When you consider the overall look and feel of a store, lighting doesn’t simply refer to the placement of lights but also the color of the bulbs, the way in which they are presented and materials used in showcasing the bulb. It’s imperative to consider:

• What atmosphere do I want to create for those who enter into the space?
• Do I want warm lights or cool?
• Should the lighting be a focal point or blend in?
• Will lighting be hung from overhead or be at table height?
• What items, racks and bays will be highlighted?

In the Freeport store, we have a combination of track lighting and large overhead halogen lights. Aiming for a rustic, industrial feel, we selected vintage oil funnels, sap buckets and a circular cheese grater to become unique light fixtures.

We found most of our materials at local antique shops, and they ranged in price from $6 to $12 apiece. Even if the goods you want are hard to get where you live, you can use online resources to track them down. We purchased the electrical wire we needed from Sundial Wire (, a great website for lighting materials. I chose the cloth-covered braid wire in black, but you can pick from a variety of styles and colors to find the right fit for your store. The wire ranges in price but is roughly $1.75 per square foot.

These funnel fixtures took minutes to assemble and cost roughly $8 each.

From the store entrance, massive halogen lamps (about 4 feet across, mounted from the ceiling) throw a lot of light into the front section of the store but don’t provide a strong visual aesthetic. Additionally, 8-foot fluorescent tube lights behind the wood banners run the perimeter of the store. This provides focused light into each bay without showcasing a florescent bulb.

Cheese grater light fixture cost: $12

The track lighting in our store is a combination of floods and spots. This year we added new tracks in the landing and converted almost all the heads to LED. When picking LED lights, make sure you focus on the color of the bulb. This will provide you with the warm or cool lighting you desire.


The front of our store has an extremely high ceiling, so we added indoor/outdoor string lights to bring the focal point back to eye level. I wanted to give our customers the feeling of being at a garden party or on a friend’s porch. I purchased three strands of vintage metro lights from Table in a Bag, a company I found through an online search. Each strand was roughly $50 and came with bulbs. We have since replaced our bulbs with LED, so our lights are now more energy- and cost-efficient while still providing a warm glow.

Small canning jar lights in the windows add both light and store personality. They have low-wattage incandescent candelabra bulbs in them now but will soon be converted to LED candelabra bulbs. We liked the look and feel of the jar lights so much we decided to add a small cluster of mini mason jars to an empty focal space.

Small canning jar cluster is used to emphasize light and adds interest to a pillar in the store


The store lounge offers shoppers a place to relax and soak in the Horny Toad vibe. Thanks to another antique shop find, I recently assembled and added this wire basket light to the center of the room. It took little effort to make; the most difficult part was choosing the right bulb to be showcased.


Old sap buckets get a new life as overhead lights in front of the fitting rooms. These add a warmer feeling to that section of the store with an added bonus of providing a flattering light for fitting-room mirrors. All for a total of $45!

If you have any great lighting DIY ideas please send them our way to

Store Inspiration: Rock/Creek Outfitters

I recently took a trip to see Rock/Creek Outfitters new shop at what is known as The Block in Chattanooga Tennessee. What is The Block? An amazing reuse of an old theater turned urban climbing gym with a massive climbing wall on the outside of the building. Definitely a perfect location for an outdoor store to be neighbors with.

the block

While visiting with Rock/Creek I saw not only some great merchandising happening, but inspiring craftsmanship and resourcefulness. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from their store.



Josh Legg head of merchandising for Rock/Creek built some cool display units that are also mobile and work great as a window display background.



Reclaimed wood made up their gorgeous new register.


My favorite idea from this trip (that is so simple and brilliant) was the reuse of hangers, which Josh took a sander too and distressed to make uniform. If you have some old hangers or miss-matched sets, by distressing them and removing old logos they can be used throughout the store and look great.


Here are some more simple hanger make-overs!

color hanges

When wrapping plastic hangers in scraps of fabric use a tiny bit of hot glue to make sure the fabric doesn’t move around or get loose.

wrapped hangers

Having a fabric cover over your hangers is so great for items that slip off easily.

fabric hangers

If you have any merchandising DIY ideas please send them to