Creating Retail Theater In-Store

Chad Gieseke, director of visual merchandising at Mud Pie Gifts, discusses how to spotlight merchandise by setting the stage for retail success.

Becky Tyre, July 14, 2017

Dozens of retailers gathered in the living room area of the Mud Pie showroom on the 6th floor at AmericasMart this week to learn how to spotlight merchandise by setting the stage for retail success. Chad Gieseke, director of visual merchandising at Mud Pie Gifts asked the audience if they enjoy attending the theater and then explained how the techniques of the stage can translate into dramatic retail spaces.


Gieseke, who was a costume designer years before his career in visual merchandising, compared a store environment to the acts of a play or chapters of a book, in which products are the characters and display areas are the stories. In continuing the theatrical theme, he recommended creating smooth transitions and flow by using unifying elements like rugs and interesting lighting.

“Choose fixtures and display tables that are neutral so they transcend seasons and do not distract from the merchandise,” said Gieseke. “Include flexible, directional lighting to spotlight merchandise areas, then add interesting light fixtures to create a home-like environment. Customers linger longer in comfortable, hospitable stores.”

Gieseke shared resources for many of the props and displays used in the showroom, explaining that some of the most compelling displays are created with inexpensive elements like wallpaper from Target, rugs from Wayfair and vinyl flooring from Lowes. He recommends using rugs to anchor display areas and suggests positioning them at angles to create visual interest.

Retailers were pleased to hear that they can access an online visual catalog of props used in the showroom and that most of the artwork in the showroom is available for download for use in-store.

In addition to Gieseke’s presentation, retailers had the opportunity to learn about social media, cause marketing and fashion merchandising during market week. “We believe in giving our loyal retailers every opportunity to benefit from expert opinions,” said Fred Panneck, president of Mud Pie. “We encourage them to stop by for ideas they can use in their own stores.”

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