Ideas for Retail Shelving

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Shelving is an important part of how you display items in your retail store. While national discount stores can get away with shelves made from bare metal and particle board, smaller retailers need to enhance their sales through product displays. Shelving maximizes your space and can enhance the decor of your shop. It also plays an important part in how customers view your products.


For gift items, dishware and other small or delicate inventory, glass shelves enhance your retail displays by offering a bright, clean look -- provided you can keep up with fingerprints and smudges. Use stand-alone glass cases throughout the sales floor and glass shelves attached to the walls at varying heights to create a crystal-like environment for customers to walk through. Color attracts attention and makes items seem more appealing, notes business consultant Ron Bond in an article at, so set less colorful items on bright pieces of velvet or other colorful, shiny fabrics.

Portable Shelving

While certain retail environments may rely on familiarity to help customers find the items they want, gift shops and other retail stores with frequently changing inventory can benefit from portable or movable shelving. Invest in several open bookcases of the same style and use these to display your wares. You can also set them up to form walls and guide the flow of traffic throughout your store.

Modular Shelving

Modular shelves share vertical supports but feature shelf heights that are adjustable. Frequently made of unfinished wood or coated metal, they lend an industrial look to your shop that is great for tools, outdoor gear, sporting goods and other rugged items. Use varying shelf heights to add interest to the displays. Some modular shelving is only sturdy when attached to the wall, while other types can be freestanding. Make sure you select a type that is right for your intended placement.

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are small and attached to walls, but you can use them throughout the store by building 1/2- to 3/4-height walls that allow floating shelves on both sides of the display. Use glass, metal or wood shelves depending on the desired look.

Nontraditional Displays

The winner of the Association for Retail Environment's "Fixture of the Year" award in 2010 used a walk-in freezer as a display room. Consider whether any item with shelves, such as freezers, refrigerators, modular closet systems or kitchen cabinets might suit the items you are selling. Build the theme of your entire shop's displays around these items or use them to highlight specific items for current sales.



About the Author

Anne Hirsh has been writing and editing for over 10 years. She has hands-on experience in cooking, visual arts and theater as well as writing experience covering wellness and animal-related topics. She also has extensive research experience in marketing, small business, Web development and SEO. Hirsh has a bachelor's degree in technical theater and English and post-baccalaureate training in writing and computer software.

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