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

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