One of the most exciting aspects of owning your own small business is the design phase. Throughout this period you will make countless decisions, one of the most important being your color choices for your retail store. Color has a subliminal effect on people and can compel them to spend large chunks of time in your store or make higher-priced purchases. Color even has the power to drive your customers out the door, never knowing know why they felt uncomfortable there. A little knowledge and thoughtful planning of your color choices for walls and for spot color can help you generate big dividends.


Using light or medium blue as your basic color scheme instills a sense of calm in people. It is reminiscent of the ocean and sky, elements that engender a sense of peace. If your small retail business focuses on the sale of noisy pets, such as birds, you can offset a jarring customer experience by painting your walls blue. Try painting with a dark-medium shade at the bottom of your walls and gradually get lighter, ending in white at the very top. This use of blue reinforces the perception of a calming sky.


Shades of light green or a bit deeper green can stimulate a sense of freshness, peace and health. Use shades of green to positive effect in florist shops or health food stores. Darker greens can bring to mind affluence; you can give your customers a sense of being in the presence of quality when using this color. Jewelry stores and businesses offering high-end quality items can benefit from the use of a combination of lighter and dark greens.

Reds, Yellows and Oranges

Red is a powerful, passionate color, and, when used too much, can cause people to feel anxious and aggressive. Use red sparingly, perhaps as a spot color to attract attention to an item. Yellow is a happy color, inspiring uplifting thoughts and cheer. Yellow is often used in stores catering to children. The use of orange -- a mixture of red and yellow -- can be exhilarating, inspiring fun and playfulness. In its lighter shades it can connote opulence, appealing to people looking for a high-end shopping experience. Certain shades of orange are often associated with stimulating the appetite, as evidenced by color schemes in some restaurants.

Purples and Pinks

Purple often appeals to creative people. It has some of the qualities of both red and blue, and when used as spot color, such as in a display case with watches or similar expensive pieces, it can be perceived as aristocratic. Use purple as a backdrop for items of mystery, such as those found in a magic shop or one dealing with the spiritual. Shades of pink can convey energy and fun. Pinks work well for stores that appeal to women or carry romantic items. Young girls are not immune to the sweet romantic delight of the color pink.

Browns, Blacks, Grays and White

Brown is a color denoting uncomplicated stability. Too much brown can be overpowering and evoke negative feelings. Brown can be a practical choice when used for high-traffic flooring, for example. Black is a dramatic color choice that appeals to younger customers seeking trendy items. It can be used in specific areas of a retail store for a bold look. Gray, a combination of black and white, is considered to be a neutral color, and in a lighter shade it can beautifully enhance other colors. White implies simplicity and purity. Because white is the absence of all color, it serves as a clean background for more colorful signage or interesting displays. Similar to a light shade of gray, a white wall acts as a palette upon which you can use other colors to great effect.