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

Nevermind the Weather

The first day of Spring is March 20th but after looking at the national weather report today, all I could see was snow and rain.  Since you ordered Spring/Summer product six months ago without knowing what the weather would be like now, it’s officially time to put some hard work into your displays to attract attention.  By creating vibrant warm displays, your customers will at least get a burst of Spring inspiration that they won’t get by looking out their windows!  Here are some colorful ideas to get you going.

P.S. You may need some paint.

If you ordered a selection of colorful product  this season, pairing it with matching objects of the same color creates a very noticeable display.


These two paint can displays are great attention-getting-conversation-starter-stop-you-in-your-tracks displays.  Which is the goal!


The way the store below re-used their boxes as a center accessory display is awesome!  The next image of the painted triangles would be a great staff project, and placing them against the window hanging above and behind mannequins would look stunning.


Sometimes party decorations are the easiest simplest window display.


The window below is excellent… I’m sure it took a LOT of work and planning.  Sometimes the last thing we have time to do is execute a rotating display, and doing so seems daunting.  My advice is to schedule yourself some inspiration time.  Spend a few hours to go do something that will inspire ideas specifically with the purpose of taking them back to your store.  Using Pinterest, going to some new shops you haven’t had time to check out, going to your local art museum or a craft store are all great ways to get ideas.  Then talk about it with someone to help you execute those ideas and put them on the calendar.  Planning far in advance will keep you from running dry, which as we look at the weather report, won’t be anytime soon. :)

-via Kelsie Morrow, Merchandising Manager at Horny Toad Clothing

If you have a great Spring display idea you’d like to share, drop her a line at

Great Merchandising at Outdoor Retailer

Via Kelsie Morrow, Merchandising Manager at Horny Toad Clothing

If you missed the Outdoor Retail Show this year (or didn’t take any pictures of clever ideas while you were busy buying), here are some highlights from our booth and others.

At Horny Toad this Winter we pushed the envelope with a bigger booth, dedicating a large portion to the resemblance of a sales floor. Our focal wall (below) displays our men’s pant selection, dressed up with outfits to match.  This is a great way to show outfits when you don’t have mannequins.  We used string and nails to hold the items to the wall.



We placed mannequins and props on our tables like you would find in a store display.

Our focus for women’s was all our cozy new sweaters.  I used props that made you feel like you were in a cabin in the woods.


Timberland Booth
These guys did a great exterior display of mannequins and I loved the wood beams stacked for different levels.  This would look great in a window display!


Hawke & Co. Booth
This is a brand I had never heard of before, but boy did their booth make me stop and take notice. They had a wall of props, photos old and new, marketing and merchandised clothing. I loved the way they were able to use old and new pieces together that didn’t compete and created a strong brand story.



Fjallraven Booth
Fjallraven hasn’t changed their booth much in the past few shows, but I still love looking at their pack wall and all the colors.  I also thought that surrounding a TV with mannequins and props is much more compelling to look at than a TV screen on its own.


Sunski Booth
Very clever booth in my opinion. These guys created their walls and seating using a single size of cardboard box repeated and stacked. Shipping this was probably a breeze, and what a great window display this would make.


Stanley Booth
Last clever idea I saw was this lamp at the Stanley booth. I would love to make a whole bunch of vintage thermos lamps after seeing this guy. Bright idea!

If you saw some great merchandising at the Outdoor Retail Show this year, send your pics to us! We would love to share them. Email us at

Time to Look Ahead

It’s time to look ahead this new year.  More specifically, it’s time to look to your headers…

If you have headers above your bays in your store, then you know how easy it is to neglect them.  Often it’s the last thing you have time to merchandise and thus ends up looking dusty and faded.  The point of having a header is to direct traffic from far away.  It’s a visual cue and very important to finishing the look of your retail merchandising.

While doing my 2013 Christmas shopping, I saw some really good header displays.  Also, our store in Freeport Maine recently remodeled their headers, inspiring me with some great and easy ideas.

Repetition or grouping similar items actually helps them stand out:

These t-shirts from H&M are fairly boring on their own, but displayed like this I want to buy one.

These headers are so easy to change and update. Adding a cuff to the arm and a knot to the shirt adds style to a simple buttondown.

And here’s a more playful approach:  J.Crew recently had bull’s eyes made from cardboard for the women’s side and these spray painted blue images on the men’s.  Use ideas from craft books for your headers and you’ll add a bit of art to your store.


Change the background:  If you have boring white walls above your headers, adding some reclaimed wood, paint, wallpaper or large pictures helps the items placed up there to stand out.  The reclaimed wood used by our Horny Toad store in Freeport, Maine really helps colors pop.


If you see some great header displays or create some of your own, please send them in!

- via Kelsie Morrow, Merchandising Manager at Horny Toad Clothing

A Christmas Window Story

The holidays bring out the best in window displays, and the creativity that goes into them always inspires me. Here’s a collection of some of the best holiday windows I have seen this season.


I drive past this window in Portland, Oregon, and I always appreciate it for its simplicity and cheer.



Not everyone can do this, but this store took the window outside.  Great idea!



I just really like this cardboard pinecone!  A whole bunch of them would be cool.




This is probably my favorite window of the year.  It definitely made me stop — and not only does it look cool, it will last through New Year’s!



Black and white is a great attention grabber, especially this Portlandia looking Santa!



This is a pet store near my house that I never noticed until now.  Definitely went in and bought some presents for my cat!




Last but not least, the amazing Anthropologie windows. They never fail to inspire with something truly exquisite.

Happy Holidays!  Hope you have a great season, and don’t forget to send us photos of your favorite holiday window displays.

-via Kelsie Morrow, Merchandising Manager at Horny Toad Clothing