Ideas for retail shelving

Written by anne hirsh
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Ideas for retail shelving
Try something a little different with your shelving. (girls on shelves image by Cherry-Merry from

Shelving is an important part of how you display items in your retail store. While the "big box" style stores can get away with shelves made from bare metal and particle board, smaller retailers need to enhance their sales through product displays, and shelving is an important part of how customers view your products.


For gift items, dishware and other small or delicate inventory, glass shelves can enhance your retail displays by offering a bright, clean look--provided you keep them smudge-free--due to the extra light they let through. Use stand-alone glass cases throughout the sales floor and glass shelves attached to the walls at varying heights to create a crystal-like environment for customers to walk through. Colour attracts attention and makes items seem more appealing, notes Entrepreneur Magazine, so set less colourful items on bright pieces of velvet or other colourful, shiny fabrics.

Portable Shelving

While certain retail environments may rely on familiarity to help customers find the items they want, gift shops and other retail stores with frequently changing inventory can benefit from portable or movable shelving. Invest in several folding book cases of the same style and use these to display your wares. You can also set them up to form walls, guiding the flow of traffic throughout your store.

Modular Shelving

Modular shelves share vertical supports but feature shelf heights that are adjustable. Frequently made of unfinished wood or coated metal, they lend an industrial look to your shop that is great for tools, outdoor gear, sporting goods and other items that attract customers interested in rugged items. Use varying shelf heights to add interest to the displays. Some modular shelving is only sturdy when attached to the wall, while other types can be freestanding. Make sure you select a type that is right for your intended placement.

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are small and attached to walls, but you can use them throughout the store by building 1/2- to 3/4-height walls that allow floating shelves on both sides of the display. Use glass, metal or wood shelves depending on your store's desired look.

Nontraditional Displays

The winner of the Association for Retail Environment's "Fixture of the Year" award in 2010 used a walk-in freezer as a display room. Consider whether any item with shelves, such as freezers, refrigerators, modular closet systems or kitchen cabinets might suit the items you are selling. Build the theme of your entire shop's displays around these items or use them to highlight specific items for current sales.

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