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The Big Picture
| Jennifer Polanz
>> Published Date: 6/2/2014
To call Global Shop a general retail trade show is a bit of a misnomer—there’s nothing general about this show. It’s huge and over the top, which fits its location at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Focused heavily on visual merchandising, it’s also a great resource for retail suppliers that cater to every retail need, from display racks to name badges, carts, mannequins and much more. The great thing about this year’s show is it highlighted vendors who were independent-friendly, which is helpful in a sea of suppliers that many times cater to box store chains like Walmart and Best Buy.
Here’s just a sampling of the companies I found while wandering the aisle of the three halls the trade show inhabited. The show also has an educational segment, which includes an independent track. If you’re interested for next year, mark your calendar for March 24-26 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and find out more at www.globalshop.org.
Shelf-talkers, Pop-up Signs and More
One of my first finds was a great company called VKF Renzel USA, which supplies all kinds of signage display materials. The U.S. headquarters is in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, but its European counterpart supplies signage materials to many big garden centers there, so they understand the unique needs of garden retail. For instance, it has vinyl, nonglare shelf-level sign holders that can be snapped onto the gondola shelving and includes a thumb notch for easy sign exchange. It also has these great snap frames (pictured) that can be changed out quickly. They, too, are nonglare PVC and scratch resistant. There are lots of different sizes. www.vkf-renzel.us
Appealing to the Senses
This is something I’d like to explore more, but for now, I’ll just touch on the two aroma companies I found at Global Shop. Aromatech’s services are subscription-based. You buy the equipment, which is a small unit that can be wall mounted, portable or connected to your HVAC system. Then you pay a flat monthly fee to have the fragrance shipped to your store. The amount and the fragrance are customizable. It can be digitally set for your store hours and you can control the intensity digitally. They recommend, however, you stick to one scent to provide a relaxed and comfortable environment. www.aromatechsystems.com
Another company, called Ambius, also has desktop units and ones that connect to the HVAC system in its Premium Scenting line. It has design consultants who will work with you to identify scents that reflect your brand and image. An interesting side note: Ambius also offers services like interiorscaping, landscaping, holiday decorating and green walls. www.ambius.com/scenting
Moving Gondolas Easily
To me, this is one of those “why didn’t I think of something like that” kind of creations. Fourmi has a super nifty gondola moving system that allows one to two people to move an entire gondola pretty darn easily. In fact, operations manager Marc Prelat spent his days at the booth moving gondolas back and forth. It sells a kit that includes a lifting bar to lift up the gondola and sets of 12 or 18 of the discs with three roller balls to put under the gondolas. Pictured are the discs and the kit with the set. If you’re interested in seeing how it works, there’s a video on the company’s website: www.fourmi-distribution.com.
More Indestructable Plastics
There were lots of inexpensive plastic display options at the show, including MasonWays Indestructible Plastics. This company offers a wide variety of tables and display cases made of, well, you know. A couple of benefits here, though: they are rotationally molded, not injection-molded, so they have no seams on which to crack. They’re easy to clean, come with a 10-year warranty and are certified by the National Sanitary Foundation (NSF), which means the products have to meet certain specifications so they don’t harbor germs or bacteria. According to Vice President Shelly Ettinger, they are impervious to mildew and are made with recycled plastics. www.masonways.com
Slatwalls are tough because they can be really handy, but sometimes don’t look very attractive. There were a couple of slat wall companies at the show that offered really attractive alternatives. OnCenter featured a PVC Slatwall system that will not chip, show visible scratches or fade over time. The company offers 11 stock colors, as well as custom color matching. They are 100% recyclable and made in the USA. www.oncenterretail.com
Happy to Stand in Line
Tensator is a company that understands lines. Its goal is to help retailers get customers through more efficiently and more profitably. To do that, it has a variety of offerings that marketing manager Ingrid Principe led me through at the show. For example, queuing solutions can be as sophisticated as the inline greeter, which is a virtual queuing software that allows customers to put their name in and watch on a digital screen to see where they are in line. Or it can be as easy as a ticket dispenser (similar to the deli counter at the grocery store). The company also has a turnkey queuing setup that makes the cash wrap more efficient and provides opportunities for add-on impulse sales.
And finally, it had what was probably the most advanced technology at the show: a virtual assistant (a hologram). “We take it from start to finish,” Ingrid explains, adding that they have a video studio to record either someone from your company or an actor delivering up to 11 different messages. A plastic cutout is made of the person, and the image is projected onto the cutout for a virtual message. How has it been used? A sporting goods store dedicated to kids used NBA star Carmelo Anthony to film messages about the brands in the store, including his own.
TAG— You’re It
I hadn’t really thought about nametags much until I ran into Imprint Plus at the show. Sure, they’re necessary, but when I spoke to founder Ellen Flanders at the booth, she made me realize just how much of a time suck nametags could be. You know, when your staff loses them or you need a whole bunch because you just hired a ton of seasonal staff? She’s got a great reusable system where the names are printed on nonadhesive, peel-off insert sheets that can be used in any inkjet or laser printer. Then that label gets inserted into a reusable magnetic badge. So you can have a ton of badge cases around, print off a bunch of sheets with names on them and if someone loses theirs it’s a 30-second process to get them a new one. Total time saver. www.imprintplus.com.
Products to Stand Out
There were so many companies with products designed to help your walls and floors stand apart that I couldn’t get to them all. But in this section I’ll touch on a couple. Visual Magnetics was a graphics system that essentially allowed the user to change and morph a display instantly with magnetic printed materials. To see a demonstration, visit: www.visualmagnetics.com/Products/Transform-Print.
Bolon is a Swedish company with the North American partner VIIIR, and it offers a cool, interlocking textile flooring option made of woven vinyl. The collection comes with a 10- to 15-year guarantee (depending on the style chosen) and is designed for high-traffic areas. It’s easy to clean with a vacuum, mop or steam cleaner. www.bolon.com/us
Watering With No Mess
So I’m walking the aisles and I see flowerpots. Not unusual at this show, since about half of the vendors used flowers or images of flowers to sell their products. However, upon closer inspection, I realize this is a self-watering bench displayed by Benchmaster, which is a division of Structural Plastics Corporation. A familiar face! And among its displays was a self-watering bench with Waterbed technology. It featured a capillary mat that had polyester batting in the middle to keep the water in the mat until needed. When set on the mat, the plant’s pot could still uptake water, but the rest of the mat stayed dry. The bench, which also includes a hanging basket bar—like all Structural Plastics products—was made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. www.structuralplastics.com
Of course, fixturing is a huge aspect of Global Shop and I’ve pulled out two specific companies that have really unique offerings for the garden center market. D.B. Imports Ltd., from Los Angeles, featured beautiful wood creations that would look great in any garden center gift shop. Owner Paul Phillips doesn’t require minimums and they’re independent-friendly and work with lots of boutique stores. The company also has showrooms at several markets across the country. www.dbimports.com
Blue Ocean Traders made its first appearance at Global Shop this year, but it often does the gift circuit in Atlanta, Las Vegas, New York and North Carolina. This import company brings in all manner of unique items from across the globe to its Louisville warehouse. About 60% is manufactured and 40% is vintage, and inventory is constantly changing. The 100,000 sq. ft. warehouse is open by appointment, as well. www.blueoceantraders.com
Pump Up the Jams
Okay, our final company of our coverage, possibly because it’s the coolest. AME—American Music Environments—features a musical system that allows a retailer to have as little or as much control over the music in the store as he or she would like. The system can be customized and runs off your desktop computer to select musical libraries. The retailer can do a deep dive into the library to select individual songs or groups of songs, or they can work with the company to design music that matches the customer profile of the store. There can be up to four different “segments” of music within one location to pipe different music to different areas of the store. And retailers can upload promotional announcements to the system to include store activities and sales. The company is based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. www.amemusic.com
One thing that’s noticeably absent from my report is the vast opportunity for digital display. There were approximately 1 billion companies there promoting digital merchandising displays (okay, obviously an exaggeration, but it’s clearly the future). Everything from kids toy displays to cardboard pop-up deodorant displays included digital aspects. However, when I talked to a few key vendors about it, they really had no answer for a high-moisture/high-light environment like a retail garden center, with the exception of some kind of casing. Which doesn’t sound like it would be too effective. I know there are retailers now who are using digital displays within the greenhouse environment and I’d like to hear more from them about how they are making it work. But based on the ubiquity of digital displays, I’d say this isn’t something we can avoid as an industry. It will be the norm (if it isn’t already). GP
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