Every IGC retailer knows there are good days and bad days in what we do, but the worst days usually coincide with the arrival of pottery. The sets are heavy, tightly packed and can have the unmistakable scent of something that has spent three months in a shipping container.
The experience is even worse when retailers wait until the pottery arrives to develop a plan for their displays. There are many effective ways to show pottery to your customers. A few essential principles will help you get the most out of your efforts.
Make It Attractive
Use the containersí colors and designs as decoration for your store. If a customer is paying for the decorative aspects of a pot or planter, it only makes sense that the most attractive facet of it is most visible.
Too often, I see pottery sections with individual containers sitting on the ground, the unfinished insides of the containers staring at me. Donít greet your customers with the worst possible angle.
Height is key in hiding the inside of the container. To get pottery off the ground, use a single platform, 2 to 3 feet tall. They can be made of many materials and are ideal for heavy ceramic and terra-cotta containers. They are low enough, too, to safely hold stacked pottery during inclement weather.
A cost-effective approach for a covered or indoor display area is to use cinder blocks, shipping pallets and black bed sheets or tablecloths. Simply stack one or two pallets on four blocks, and cover with the sheet, pulling the fabric tight underneath. I suggest using black sheets, which will disappear behind the colorful glazes of most garden pottery, but other colors may be necessary, depending on your potteryís color schemes.
Multitiered shelving units are essential at garden centers that require large inventories of both small and large pots. Several manufacturers offer metal shelving units with adjustable shelf heights. As several sizes of pots come in a single set and different styles of pottery have different heights, this flexibility will prove valuable. If you decide to make the units yourself, remember youíll need a bottom shelf that is tallest and upper shelves that decrease in height. Stack smart! While it may be easy to put the largest pot on the top shelf, with its unlimited height potential, you risk injury to customers and employees if you put an 80-pound container 6 feet in the air.
Perhaps the most common form of displaying large pottery is stacking the pots to achieve height and reduce the floor space taken up. This method is best for three-piece sets, as the bottom can be turned upside down, the middle placed right-side-up, and the third angled sideways inside the second. This reduces the visibility of the inside of the pots and gives customers a great view.
With four- and five-piece sets, take the two smallest pots, which average in the 8- to 12-inch range, and move them to the indoor pottery section. Another approach is to place plastic pots of diminishing size inside each of the containers before stacking them, producing a tall, clean-looking and space-saving stack.
Spread Them Out
The most important factor in the success of your pottery department is cross merchandising. Around your garden center, there are dozens of tables displaying flowering plants in 4-, 6- and 8-inch growing pots, and most containers are designed to completely conceal standard and azalea growing pots. Walk around your garden center, and place some of your plants inside pots.
Scattering the pottery throughout your garden center inspires customersí imagination. As an added benefit, your pottery section doesnít have to be as large if you scatter it, which frees up shelf space for other items. But donít get rid of your pottery department completely so that customers are forced to scavenge for pots when inventory runs low. Instead, consider dropping 10 percent of your small flowering plants into decorative pots. Youíll be surprised how often youíre replacing the cross-merchandised containers with inventory on the shelf.