by Martin M. Pegler
What is a smile? Is it the enigmatic look on the face of the Mona Lisa that is called the Da Vinci smile? OR, is it that sudden expression of relief or pleasure or satisfaction that turns a dark, frowning visage into a sunny, glowing face that exudes a sense of hope?? There have been hundreds of songs written about SMILES, from the sad but lovely one by Charlie Chaplin, “when your heart is breaking”, to the ones that saw us through World War 1, “let a smile be your umbrella” or “pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and SMILE—SMILE—SMILE.” After that bloody war we were encouraged with “SMILE will go a long, long way.” With the big depression after the crash of 1929, we were implored to “SMILE—Darn Ya—SMILE” and then to “put on a happy face”, a decade or two after WWll. SO, why are musicians, artists and especially retailers all concerned about the shoppers facial expression upon entering a shop? What has a SMILE to do with making a sale? EVERYTHING!!
Imagine it is a dreary, gray Monday morning and all the wonders, warmth and sunshine of the past glorious Sunday are now memories. You are in your shop waiting for a “live one” to enter. The off weather has affected you, your bones ache, your feet feel bulbous, and you would like nothing more than to get back into your bed and pull the blanket over your head and block out the Monday Blahs. To break this unhappy reverie, your front door opens and a shopper enters. The shopper is SMILING. Something has just happened to amuse her—tickle her fancy—brighten her day, and now she brings that sunshine and smiling happiness as a greeting to you. You respond. No more achy bones or swollen feet, no more thoughts of bed and comforting blanket, no more gray skies and stormy weather. You respond with a bright SMILE. One smile deserves another and suddenly “everything is coming up roses and lollypops and sunshine” for everyone. What made the shopper SMILE just before entering?
Was it the sunlight that seemed to emanate from your window display—the warm and inviting glow that jumped out from the building line to embrace the street and all who were walking out there? Was it the charming vignette that showed the featured products “humanized” with copy balloons floating over them with clever copy? Was it the juxtaposing of the newest with the oldest or the placement of an “antique” amidst digital wonders? Maybe just a simple and deliberate misspelling of a word that caused the smile—or any small gesture that turned things awry or upside down and thus got her attention or piqued her interest—and then in recognition that she was being ‘played’ made her smile.
The lesson to be learned is that your front windows are more than storage spaces to show off new and featured products, they’re also message centers. It is here—with your displays—that you announce who you are—who you are hoping to sell to and what sort of things you think they would like to have. It is here that you show, by example, your taste level, your attitude toward your clientele and what your brand stands for. Some storekeepers keep a running conversation with their clientele through message cards that appear in their up-front windows as well as on the shelves and tabletops inside the store. If anything—keep your “message” light, bright, sunny and brief—like the funny, hand-made “memos” left throughout the Lords store in London or those scripted by the owners of K’OOK! in the Netherlands! BUT, always light, succinct and with a SMILE!
Put a SMILE into your presentation—one that may become infectious and come back to cheer you up as well. Surprise them—maybe even shock them! Be unique and occasionally unusual. Who says you can’t smile and hum a happy tune at the same time? Use musical notes to keep in touch with your shoppers. Suggest the values you are offering through the captions that are song titles. Make “September Song” a joyous fall presentation; “Easter Parade” the display of pretty pastels or bunny and egg inspired products; “In the Good Old Summertime” a showcase for picnic or outdoor living products; “White Christmas” for an all white product presentation. I think you get the idea, and I am sure that whatever your country or language or music is—you can do it!
Put an end to Monday Blahs that can extend throughout the week and dull and gray windows that serve only as mirrors to show off glum expressions. There are so many different and wonderful and inexpensive and adaptable forms of lighting to use in your windows that will bathe them in eternal sunshine to start with that almost anything you do—except overload the window with merchandise—will start the SMILE process. So think fun—think bright and happy thoughts—think of what you feel and how you feel and how you want your shoppers to feel—and go for it. Remember this one— “When You’re SMILING—The Whole World SMILES With You” —and they SHOP where they are happy.