Innovative Store Design Examples That You Can Use


Are you thinking of updating and redesigning your store? If so, it can make a big difference to your sales. At the 2015 NAMM Show, Jen Lowe of Boom Boom Percussion interviewed music retailers David Kalt of Chicago Music Exchange (pictured), Mike and Ray Guntren of Ray’s Midbell Music, and Mike Stryker of Spindrift Guitars to get their smartest and most effective store design ideas.

Pictures tell the story, so watch the video for visual examples.

Small Design Ideas With Big Impact
Repurpose and save. When it came time to update Ray’s Midbell Music, the Guntrens used old TVs for monitors instead of replacing them with expensive flat-screens. The Guntrens bought three Roku players and created memes and in-store advertising for their showroom. They can change what they feature on the screens with a USB drive at any time. Mike Guntren shared that they rotate and change their content every few weeks, and this has helped increase sales.

Create pairings and visual interest. Stryker got the idea to hang custom straps in between guitars. They’re matched to each guitar for color accents and design, an idea he likened to wine pairing. According to Stryker, customers don’t have to dig for straps and can see all of the available guitars in new and interesting ways. He added that it’s helped keep traffic moving through the showroom.

Create unique, appealing window displays. Kalt spent a little money and hired a professional window merchandiser who specializes in driving traffic and increasing store appeal. He said she was excited about building a creative display like a department store window.

“It popped,” Kalt said. “We got a lot more traffic from it—people who hadn’t previously recognized our store.

“If you’re in an urban location, a window can have a huge impact on driving traffic into the store.”

He also shared that it’s a creative way to highlight inventory that may not be moving and reiterated Stryker’s idea that bringing color and fashion together is critical.

Enlist local artists. Lowe shared the example of national fashion retailer Free People. It sources local artists to help design its stores in certain communities. It’s an idea music retailers can use across their business—their brick-and-mortar stores, websites and social media.

Make the most of signage. Stryker used a unique sign given to him by a customer with the name Spindrift. The sign came from a boat, and “Spindrift” also happened to be the name of Stryker’s grandparents’ beach house. So, it was only fitting that he hung the sign in a prominent spot inside the store. The sign presents an opportunity for him to share the story with customers.

Take advantage of your hardware and home goods stores. Mike Guntren suggested using metal shelving in low-profile areas. His company has used spray paint, black matting, PVC pipe and drum hardware to create inexpensive, effective displays.

Big Design Ideas That Paid Off
Add a recital room. Ray’s Midbell Music’s recital room wasn’t part of the original store. The Guntrens had it built, despite the high cost. The room has been useful for student performances, staff meetings and New Horizons Band. Mike Guntren said he wished it were bigger.

Add furniture for seating and comfort. Stryker added couches and accent chairs because he wanted to create a sense of community within his store—a place where people feel comfortable. The furniture also provides a place for spouses and friends to sit while customers shop. Kalt seconded the idea of using furniture throughout a showroom. Chicago Music Exchange has hosted mini jam sessions because of its seating arrangements.

Use store columns to merchandise. Kalt explained that he reinvested in all of his store columns. “We determined it was good real estate, and we can put inventory closer to the customer’s hands,” he said.

Chicago Music Exchange displays guitars three tiers up on the columns. (He said staff will happily get on a ladder for customers.) He also built accessory columns, so items are easy to locate, grab and bring to the counter. “It’s had a huge impact on more impulsive purchases like cables, getting people to the register [for mailing lists] and helping us turn a browser into a customer.”

Using columns has meant moving inventory from behind the counter to the floor. “They’ll bring product to the counter, whether it’s a cable, microphone or interface device—getting them closer to a purchase decision by getting it in their hands is crucial,” he said.

Update your counter. Kalt invested in a new, expanded counter with LEDs. “Lighting is something you need to think through, so you can see from above, the side and through,” he said. Kalt added that the counter is where conversations happen, and it keeps sales staff engaged with customers.

Use mirrors strategically. Kalt stated that he’s going to put more mirrors in his store’s five practice rooms, so people can see what they look like when they’re playing. “It’s tied back to fashion and image,” he said.

Consider custom builds. Stryker built movable risers that elevate amplifiers and instruments on stands. According to Stryker, the risers make amps easier to see and show them in a better light. Also, risers help prevent people from bumping into merchandise. The risers were custom-finished, so they can all be moved together to create performance stage when there’s an in-store event and moved back for everyday use.

“It was expensive, but they protect and honor the instruments,” he said.

Lowe noted that the risers might give the amps a little exra oomph and reinforce the low end.

Create in-store displays for featured products and categories. Kalt described how he’s created display pods of layered products, such as amps. He used small tables to stack amps and create a wow factor. (Ikea furniture is affordable and simple to set up.) This draws customers into a brand, and they can see the selection.

Design right. Stryker shared a positive story about a customer who called his store to see if a particular Mesa Boogie amplifier was in stock. The customer turned out to be Trey Anastasio of Phish, and the salesperson he worked with had been to 70 Phish shows. Anastasio came in the next morning, spent five hours in the store. He’s since become a great advocate of Spindrift.

​“The fact that he was there for that long indicated to us that we’d won, in terms of design and the right kind of shop where he’d feel comfortable,” Stryker said.