For retro-chic merchandising, head to a yard sale

Store fixtures serve multiple purposes. They hold merchandise, but they can also individualize a retail space. To set your store apart visually from the cookie-cutter chains, follow the lead of owners who upcycle when creating product displays. They use unexpected items to showcase everything from pet food and treats to dog collars and leashes.

Amy Barker, owner of Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile in Spokane, WA, regularly shops garage sales and antique fairs to find pieces for her store.

“I’m always on the lookout for an interesting item. At times, I’m truly amazed at what we come up with for its use,” she says. “It’s all a genuine part of our mercantile feel. Our store is full of warmth, and we hope it feels cozy enough for customers to want to linger longer and shop, while their dog gets to really sniff around.”

Let’s take a look at product displays from Prairie Dog and other stores that excel at this approach to merchandising.


Red wagon from Dogology

 

Dogology
CANTON, CT

“Who doesn’t love an old red wagon?” owner Marissa Garson asks. “Its red metal body really catches the eye, and we knew we had to use it at the store.”

She found the wagon — which holds products inside or plants outside, depending on the season — at an estate sale when decorating the retail space. 

“Most of the furniture you see in Dogology has been upcycled. Having a good balance of furniture paired with traditional metal and slat-wall fixtures was important to us,” Garson says.


Displays from Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile

Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile 
SPOKANE, WA

This old wooden wheelbarrow works for single-brand displays, such as large bags of pet food, and for themed presentations — a recent “happy dog” collection included multiple dog toys, treats and a large comfy bed. 

A 1930s-era stove also sits on the store floor at Prairie Dog. Found in the basement of an employee’s family farmhouse, Barker places products on top and opens drawers to utilize that space. 

“It’s crazy heavy,” she says, recommending furniture sliders to make moving larger pieces like these easier.


Onblonde Pet Spa 
PALM BEACH, FL

This versatile rack came from a nearby salvage yard. Since finding it, Onblonde Pet Spa owner Michael Martin has used it to display toys, collars and dog-themed hand towels. He doesn’t know the rack’s original purpose, just that it fits into his salon’s upscale décor and approach to customer service.

“We are not your standard dog service providers, therefore we do not want standard display pieces,” he says. “We saw this piece and thought it would be a great use of floor space, and it was beautiful in its imperfections.”

 

Winston Dog
NASHVILLE, TN

An item need not be old to upcycle into a charming display, as this tiered tray filled with doggie bow ties proves. Winston Dog owner Renee Bell purchased it from Painted Fox, an online seller of antique and vintage reproduction furniture and decor.

“I have always liked one-of-a-kind pieces and wanted the store to have that same vibe,” she says.

 

Fido & Stitch
GRAND RAPIDS, MI

During renovations to the mixed-use property that would soon house her store, Fido & Stitch owner Alli McDonough spotted 100-year-old floorboards being thrown out. She saved the wood, combined it with steel threaded pipes and created a number of sturdy and stylish shelving units.

“It’s perfectly antiqued, with nail holes and everything, and is still in perfect shape,” she says. “We were in the right place at the right time.”

 

This article originally appeared in the May-June 2017 edition of PETS+.