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Finding your store’s je ne sais quoi

Forget eat like the French—Melrose’s Brad Gullion shows you how to retail like the French! 

Retailers gain inspiration from fashion forward Paris store  windows

Retailers gain inspiration from fashion forward Paris store  windows


On a recent vacation in France, Brad Gullion, our vice president of sales and marketing, made some interesting discoveries about French shopping. In this blog, we’ll explore the implications of these revelations and how you can use them to give your store that je ne sais quoi to really stand apart.

Before we start—a quick shopping primer. Shopping in France is very different from shopping in the US. Stores in France are much smaller and consequently usually sell one type of item. You want a dress? You go to the dress store. Shoes? The shoe store. Bread? Well, you get where we are going. These small stores are crammed into narrow storefronts and face stiff competition—many other small stores. There are very few chains so retailers cannot depend on bringing customers in with a brand. Instead, they rely on inventive windows—so much so that window dressing has become an art and window-shopping practically the national pastime.

What window trends did we see that stopped us in our tracks? Windows set as scenes—both simple and complex. Windows displaying a collection of goods, often bringing many small items together into one larger grouping. Color in windows to create a pop or warmth and even colorful storefronts that catch the eye. And always, items used in unexpected ways.  Visit our French Window Pinterest Board for more!

Now that you’ve seen some windows you like, let’s talk about what goes on inside a French store. First, because the stores are so small a customer can’t just walk in and duck out without being noticed. Instead, the owner expects to have a conversation with each customer and that almost everyone entering the store will make a purchase.

However, due to the small size of stores, retailers in France have gotten creative with their use of space. Often the area just outside of a shop becomes an extension of the store and goods are displayed outside. In stores the entire wall is used for display in a way that intuitively makes sense and unique displays allow for categorization of small product. We also saw areas that would be used for storage in the US, transformed into unforgettable shopping experiences.

When he returned from his vacation in France, Brad’s first order of business was to share what he learned about French windows and shopping. But, we found out that he also learned a lot about planning a retaliating trip to France. Our next blog will share tips and tricks for planning a retailing experience of your own—so you can see those windows in real life—without breaking the bank.

Melrose International is an industry leader in wholesale home décor, giftware, and seasonal items. Providing outstanding products, service, design, and value since 1985!

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