The window display at Terra Verde is covered with black cloth, yet beckons passers-by to look inside — “if they dare.”
The display — which features Terra Verde’s fall line in a “gruesome” Halloween genre — is just one of many along Tejon Street that allow window shoppers to catch a glimpse of the wares inside.
“The windows are extremely important,” said Laszlo Palos, manager at the upscale retailer. “I want to create something that makes people stop in their tracks, stop their hectic lives for a minute. It’s a great opportunity to catch people and it’s what the store is all about.”
Window displays can also serve another purpose, said C.J. Card owner Jean Groat. Often, they let people know that the store offers more than just greeting cards.
“We do displays to let people know we can design and print invitations,” she said. “And people always come in and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you did that.’ People looking for cards, they know what we do. Sometimes the window displays are a way to let people know what our other products are.”
Both Palos and Groat say merchandise drives the window display, and both use whimsical displays to attract customers.
“We want to show off the merchandise and reflect the atmosphere inside the store. We take the displays very seriously, but we have fun with it,” Palos said. “We do change it out frequently. We come up with an idea, and pick out merchandise to go with it; or if we have something new, we’ll design the display around that.”
C.J. Card and Terra Verde are celebrating Halloween with displays that feature fun themes.
“We frequently have people say they saw the window and come in to see what we have,” Groat said. “It’s a way to put the store in people’s head, so they remember us from our displays.”
The stores rely on staff suggestions, but Groat allows her staff to create the entire display. For the major department stores, however, professional “visual merchandisers” are responsible for changing out store displays frequently, said Diane Loschen, marketing manager for the Citadel Mall.
While Loschen arranges displays in empty store fronts, she also keeps an eye out to make sure stores keep their displays “fresh.”
“From my perspective, I start to get concerned if retailers haven’t changed out every few weeks,” she said. “It’s not a problem for the department stores; they change their displays every week, or every two weeks. We try to keep everything new, fresh and exciting so customers can keep it in their mind — and so they want to come in and take a look at what the store offers.”
Loschen creates displays throughout the mall that feature merchandise from specific stores. Frequently, the displays cause customers to vary their foot traffic and visit a store they wouldn’t normally patronize.
“We display it inside the mall, away from the store’s location,” she said. “People have their own traffic patterns; they park in the same place and go in the mall the same way. We’ve had feedback that they’ve visited a store because they saw additional displays inside the mall. If it’s visual and compelling, then people will enter the store.”
Keeping it “visual and compelling” can be difficult, Palos said. Terra Verde never repeats a display, and after 14 years in business, it can be tough to come up with a new idea.
“We collaborate,” he said. “Because we always have to come up with something new and fresh. Once, we had pajamas with 1920 gas stations on them, so I created a foam model of the gas station and had the mannequins standing by it. Sometimes, we come up with an idea. Once, we used an antique bicycle in the spring, and put baskets of flowers on the seat. We chose outfits that matched the flowers.”
At C.J. Card, the windows also have been memorable. Groat cites two that received the most comments.
“We had a back-to-school theme this year, with lockers,” she said. “Customers really liked that one. Then we did a Desperate Housewives kind of theme with mops, brushes, brooms, work gloves — that kind of thing.”