Winter 2007
Bling My Program!

Makeovers

While TV has been busy documenting makeovers of everything from homes to human beings, a Virginia shopping center has created its own total makeover—on all of its RMUs.

A premier shopping destination with one million square feet of retail space in the heart of Norfolk’s revitalized historic downtown, MacArthur Center recently created new visual bling for its already successful RMU (retail merchandising unit) program.

The makeover began when Kathy Loizos, east coast regional director of specialty retail for Taubman Centers Inc. (NYSE:TCO), which owns and manages MacArthur Center, dispatched a visual merchandising team, including industry pro Matt Grace and me, to the center. The goal was to complete the makeover in time for the winter holiday shopping season, while ensuring the RMU décor would lend an ongoing festive touch to the shopping center year-round.

Taubman specialty leasing agents joined the project, participating in a visual merchanding training session before working with the visual merchandising team to cover display pads and help remerchandise the units.

“Actively taking part in the project was the most helpful part of the training and was a real learning experience for us as SLAs,” observes MacArthur specialty leasing agent Jennifer Brown. “It showed us what to look for in improving a display—and that became particularly clear when we looked at the before and after photos. Even with something as simple as covering pads, we saw that just as color can change the feel of a room in your home, a simple color change in an RMU display can make a huge difference.”

The visual merchandising team developed plans for each RMU in the weeks before the program makeover, including thematic displays incorporating props, color and display elements designed to increase merchandising space. The result not only increased the appeal of the RMU tenants but also added visual excitement to the common area of the mall.

Here’s a look at several RMUs and the specific changes that took place in order to make these businesses even more attractive and appealing to shoppers (and center management).

Abbott Impressions

An owner-operator that paints at his RMU, this retailer had a great display to start with, using his name as a logo. But the way the logo was suspended made it difficult to read. The cases looked a little spare and needed something to soften the hard edges of the paintings. An upscale gallery theme was developed to better display and add perceived value to the artwork.

The artist’s logo was re-cut, spray-painted gold and mounted on a black bengaline pad. The same fabric was used to cover the case pads, and gold fabric was draped to create an elegant refined look. Gold finials that coordinate with the painting frames make bold accent pieces that add dimension to the display.


Nature’s Gift

This exclusive cosmetics line is made with Dead Sea salts. The retailer wanted to emphasize the product’s exclusivity by using pedestal risers. Although risers can add an air of exclusivity to a product, the display in the before photo looks sparse.

The after picture shows there is a way to effectively merchandise a product and emphasize its exclusivity without making the RMU look empty. The addition of props, color and risers helps to fill in the dead space seen in the before photo.

The blue in the product packaging is picked up and carried through the unit with coordinating pads, post covers and risers. The blue color, wicker accessories, palm tree props and treasure chests filled with course salt all work together to evoke a spa setting. The resulting display looks rich, exotic and enticing—an effective mix to attract shoppers to the product.


Nail Style

This unit for nail care kits is a popular demonstration concept. In the before photo, the glass cube fixture in the center merchandises product, but lacks visual punch. In the after photo, the display is more eye-catching and unified with the color purple.

The splashes of bold color also make the light colored bottles “pop.” The botanical ingredients in the product’s formula are conveyed by bunches of dried herbs that coordinate with the purple emphasis color. White wicker baskets and rolled towels give the unit the clean, natural look of an upscale salon.


Golden Gems

The retailer’s product line is handcrafted beaded jewelry made by the RMU owner/operator. She made good initial choices, choosing rich coppers and chocolates for her jewelry forms, but she needed some help pulling the unit together. The visual merchandising team took her ideas a step further with the addition of wrought iron accessories in the same coppery hues to help display merchandise.

A strong buildup of risers in the center gives the unit more impact. The light fabric was replaced with a deep chocolate to make the product appear more upscale and refined and make the jewelry and neck blocks stand out. The light fabric seen in the before photo can be seen in the after photo as draping to allow different surface options for merchandise display. A copper-and-gold floral garland trim completes the rich, upscale theme.


Melani Brothers

This RMU had all the informational pieces to convey its concept, but with so many hard edges, it needed some softening. The window, which was too big for the end cap of the RMU, was centered in the unit and created a focal point. The TV monitor and informational poster were then moved to the prominent high traffic end cap, freeing up the cash wrap for customer transactions.

Finally an outdoor theme was played up with the addition of “trees” that soften the hard edges of the fixtures. Pads are re-covered in the same orange as the logo. Orange berries worked into the branches also reflect the logo colors and add another softening trim element.

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