Stylistically Speaking: Part 2
Meet our designers, Ken and Pam.
Yesterday on MELspeak, we introduced one member of our talented design team, Ken Fetgatter, AIFD, and shared some of Ken’s display tips for your store. Up today we have Pam Schieffer, who shares her background as a store owner and display designer, along with some tips of her own.
For 29 years, Pam was the owner and operator of Country Pastimes in Carthage, Ill. In 2012, when Pam decided to close her shop, she joined Melrose full-time, working with Ken Fetgatter and Melrose founder Michael Gingrich on showroom setup and display design.
Looking back on her experience, Pam comments, “When was the last time you stopped to realize how lucky you were to be doing the work you loved every day? Actually, can it be called work when it’s so much fun?
“Owning a business was always a dream of mine. I had no idea what would be involved or where it would lead me when I chose the career I did. In fact, the day my second child was born was also my very first day as owner of my own little shop! Needless to say, I missed a few days of work.
“Country Pastimes started small, selling craft supplies and offering classes on basket weaving, tin punch, painting and quilting. A gift line followed and complemented the silk flowers that I loved to arrange. We then started a wholesale line of Santas, bunnies and game boards, and we were lucky enough to show them at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. Like many store owners, as we grew we moved and we continually tried new things!
“Soon, a third child entered the picture and things got even crazier! Although very time consuming and challenging, these were the best years! Hurrying to work, running to the ball games, helping with homework, all the housework — then turn around and do it all again the next day. The years flew by, and as they did my little shop turned into a much bigger store! Of course, I still loved it, as it was just a way of life for us.
“My business was very family oriented. My dad was the woodworker and problem solver, my mom the antique expert, my daughters the shoppers and computer experts, and my husband and son the muscle, which was used quite often! I never could have made it without all of them.
“Market was my favorite part of the business. Seeing all the new product and deciding how to put it all together was a challenge I loved. Displays in my shop usually started with an unusual antique or some other unique item. People loved to see what was new at my store and stopped by for their ‘retail therapy’ often. Christmas was the best time of year. We decorated 25 themed trees and had everything to go with them. An open house with food, drinks and Santa kicked off the season.
“After 29 years, seven days a week, doing everything from displays to maintenance to bookkeeping, I decided the time was right for a new challenge. Now I have another ‘dream job’ with Melrose. Melrose was a big part of my store from the very beginning, and it’s been wonderful being part of the team here. I can’t imagine a better place to work — every day is a new challenge, and I absolutely love what I do!”
Below, Pam shares some insights from her background in running her store and setting up her displays to provide customers with the best possible retail experience.
Is there an area of décor in which you specialize?
Pam: Coming straight from running my own store and designing all of its displays, I help to set up all the Melrose showrooms. It’s definitely a challenge to set up, tear down and fit all the great new products every season in each showroom.
What is the most satisfying portion of your job?
Pam: I love being able to create a display that will catch people’s attention and make them stop to study it! If we achieve that with our Melrose displays, it shows our customers what they can do with the products to catch their own customers’ attention — hopefully helping them to make their stores more successful.
What should be the top goal when creating a display?
Pam: To drive sales! Keeping things fresh and new in the store encourages people to explore and to come back regularly. Customers at my shop always enjoyed coming in because I had new things for them to see on a regular basis.
What advice would you give to those attempting to make attractive displays?
Pam: Keep it simple and streamlined to start. In my store, I would often find a unique item like an antique or something else unusual that had some character to it and build a display around that. Too much clutter and people don’t know where to start. But with an interesting item at the heart of a display, you invite people in to discover all the great products you’re showing with that item.
What makes Melrose a special place to work or to do business with?
Pam: I absolutely love my job. Ken is great to work with, and Michael has such a wonderful eye for new products and what will help our customers succeed. Being involved in the design process from the very beginning means there is always something new going on for me, which has been great.