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HISTORY OF VINTAGE SHOP FITTINGS
There are three major types of retailing.
The first is the market, a physical location where buyers
and sellers converge. Usually this is done on town squares,
sidewalks or designated streets and may involve the construction
of temporary structures (market stalls). The second form is
shop or store trading. Some shops use counter-service, where
goods are out of reach of buyers, and must be obtained from
the seller. This type of retail is common for small expensive
items (e.g. jewellery) and controlled items like medicine
and liquor. Self-service, where goods may be handled and examined
prior to purchase, has become more common since the Twentieth
Century. A third form of retail is virtual retail, where products
are ordered via mail, telephone or online without having been
examined physically but instead in a catelogue, on television
or on a website. Sometimes this kind of retailing replicates
existing retail types such as online shops or virtual marketplaces
such as E-Bay.
Buildings for retail have changed considerably over time.
Market halls were constructed in the middle ages, which were
essentially just covered marketplaces. The first shops in
the modern sense used to deal with just one type of article,
and usually adjoined the producer (baker, tailor, cobbler).
In the nineteenth century, in France, arcades were invented,
which were a street of several different shops, roofed over.
From this there soon developed, still in France, the notion
of a large store of one ownership with many counters, each
dealing with a different kind of article was invented; it
was called a department store. One of the novelties of the
department store was the introduction of fixed prices, making
haggling unnecessary, and browsing more enjoyable. This is
commonly considered the birth of consumerism. In cities, these
were multi-story buildings which pioneered the escalator.
In the 1920's the first supermarket opened in the United
States, heralding in a new era of retail: self-service. Around
the same time the first shopping mall was constructed which
incorporated elements from both the arcade and the department
store. A mall consists of several department stores linked
by arcades (many of whose shops are owned by the same firm
under different names). The design was perfected by the Austrian
architecht Victor Gruen. All the stores rent their space from
the mall owner. By mid-century, most of these were being developed
as single enclosed, climate-controlled, projects in suburban
areas. The mall has had a considerable impact on the retail
structure and urban development in the United States.
In addition to the enclosed malls, there are also strip malls
which are 'outside' malls (in Britain they are called retail
parks. These are often connected to supermarkets or big box
stores. Also, in high traffic areas, other businesses may
lease space from the supermarket or big box store to sell
their goods or services from. A recent development is a very
large shop called a superstore. These are sometimes located
as stand-alone outlets, but more commonly are part of a strip
mall or retail park.
Local shops can be known as brick and mortar stores in the
United States.Many shops are part of a chain: a number of
similar shops with the same name selling the same products
in different locations. The shops may be owned by one company,
or there may be a franchising company that has franchising
agreements with the shop owners (see also restaurant chain).
Some shops sell second-hand goods. Often the public can also
sell goods to such shops, sometimes called 'pawn' shops. In
other cases, especially in the case of a nonprofit shop, the
public donates goods to the shop to be sold (see also thrift
store). In give-away shops goods can be taken for free.
There are also 'consignment' shops, which is where a person
can place an item in a store, and if it sells the person gives
the shop owner a percentage of the sale price. The advantage
of selling an item this way is that the established shop give
the item exposure to more potential buyers.
The term retailer is also applied where a service provider
services the needs of a large number of individuals, such
as with telephone or electric power.
SHOP FITTINGS AND DISPLAY
By A. Edward Hammond
This book has been written mainly for the use of the small
retailer with little time and limited capital at his disposal,
as the writer's experience has shown him that, although the
number of shop fittings and display accessories at the disposal
of the retail trader to-day are many and varied, the percentage
of retailers who make adequate and efficient use of them is
Lack of time, and a mistaken idea that modern shop fittings
are "too expensive," are no doubt responsible for
the lack of interest shown by a large proportion of retailers
in modern shop equipment. Many are content to carry on with
the same old style fixtures, year in, year out, not realizing
that the neglect of this all-important aspect of their business
may, to a large degree, account for their failure to make
That fittings may be obtained which are adaptable to their
individual requirements, and a at price which is in proportion
to their turnover, is a fact which is not always realized
by the owners of average sized shops, and it is hoped that
the present work may in some measure serve the useful purpose
of increasing the interest of retailers in a subject which
must inevitably have a potent effect upon their sales.
The work constitutes the first attempt that has ever been
made to produce in convenient form a textbook which deals
in an elementary and non-technical manner with the various
phases of shop fitting. It has, of necessity, been impossible
to deal with the subject in anything but a general way, in
order to ensure that the book shall be of relatively equal
value to retailers in all trades, and for this reason, the
fittings chosen for description have, as far as possible,
been those which can be employed with satisfactory results
in half a dozen or more different retail trades.
The business man who, after reading this book, feels disappointed
that more matter of direct use to him in his individual trade
is not included, is asked to bear in mind the fact that the
book is only intended as an introduction to a subject the
increasing importance of which is only just beginning to be
realized. To deal comprehensively and completely with present-day
shop fittings and equipment for all trades, an encyclopaedia
would be required. For more specialized information on the
subject, the retailer should consult his own trade journal.
The art of window dressing and display already occupies a
place of its own in the ever-growing world of retail activity;
but not on that alone can a successful business be built.
Modern methods of storage and efficient service facilities
must also be included in the shop-keeper's plans of development.
Only by the harmonizing co-operation of these three forces,
produced by the use of up-to-date fittings and equipment,
can the retailer reasonably expect to see his business flourish.
In conclusion, the author acknowledges, with grateful thanks,
the courtesy of those shop fitting and equipment companies
who have so kindly helped him with information and advice.
To these organizations, the author's thanks are also due for
the loan of many of the illustrations.
A. E. H.
SHOP FITTINGS AND DISPLAY
Some Comparisons of old-style shop-fronts with those of
the present day
The acceptance by the authorities of the Victoria and Albert
Museum of the famous old shop-front of Birch's Restaurant
in Cornhill-the oldest shop in the City of London-makes one
realize the marked changes which have taken place, in the
outside appearances of retail premises, since the days when
the façade of this once popular restaurant was considered
to be a smart and attractive feature of the building to which
Birch's is famous now by reason of its antiquity-the business
was founded in 1690. The present shop-front was designed by
the Adams brothers, and its style is truly representative
of that period of applied ornamentation. It is one of the
last links with the old-world city which, now that even the
Bank of England is being reconstructed on modern lines, is
rapidly losing all outward trace of its historical character.
Some comfort, however, may be derived from the fact that an
effort has been made to preserve the old-style settings of
both the front and the interior, in the new premises at 39A
Old Broad Street, to which the business has been transferred.
A Revolution in Shop-Front Construction.
No ordinary shop would be a success to-day with such an
unattractive exterior, and it is almost impossible to recognize
any similar characteristics between this relic of forgotten
days and the present-day shop-front. A revolution has taken
place in shop-front construction; but it is practically impossible
to trace the course of progress, for, although many ancient
houses exist in different parts of the country-houses with
thatched roofs and bricked-up window spaces-the demands of
commerce have precluded any such retention of dark and gloomy
shop exteriors, and, apart from the few such as Birch's, which
have been preserved for the sake of their antiquity, there
are now hardly any shops extant which are sufficiently old-fashioned
to indicate the advances which have taken place.
A glance at Birch's windows is enough to transport one's thoughts
back to the days of crinolines; yet, no, surely that entrance
was never constructed for crinolines! The rotund city merchants
themselves must at times have experienced difficulty in crossing
such a narrow threshold. In those days, the value of the shop
window as a medium of display was not appreciated, nor was
any need felt for an inviting entrance, the quality of the
goods was considered to be all that was necessary to retain
custom. Competition had not then become rampant, nor for many
years did it take its place as a factor of which progress
in business and improved methods of selling are the inevitable
There is nothing inviting about the entrance to Birch's. It
consists of odd double doors-the narrower one of the two is
generally the only one left open, and the man of average size
finds it necessary to turn sideways in order to enter. Compared
with the present-day shop, with its spacious lobby or arcade-front,
Birch's can hardly be said to be imposing. A glance at the
accompanying illustrations almost obviates the need for any
What changes those old windows have witnessed! The constant
rumble of the passing motor buses to-day must surely be enough
to disturb the serenity of this unpretentious little façade.
It seems out of proportion with its surrounding; the hansom
cab, the notoriously uncomfortable knife-board horse-bus,
the high-wheeled bicycle, have come and gone while Birch's
has remained. Until now, alas, the site is required for something
more in keeping with a modern city. The building has been
demolished, and is to be replaced by palatial bank premises.
The Shop-Fitting Industry.
Wonderful advances have taken place in the world of retail
shop-keeping since the days when Birch's was first opened.
The art of shop-window display has become a potent factor
in influencing public taste; window-dressing has, in fact,
developed into a highly-skilled profession, with its own association
of experts. Shop fitting is no longer a side-line of building
and joinery. It stands alone as a highly-skilled, flourishing
industry. It is, indeed, mainly to the art of the display
man and the shop-fitter that we owe the many improvements
in the windows and facades of our modern shopping centres.
Progress in Window Lighting.
Window lighting, too, has become an art in itself. How often,
when constructing a daintily arranged window display, with
tinted lighting effects blending with the various coloured
displays of goods-how often, one wonders, does the trader
give a thought to the days gone by, when his progenitors had
no such aids at their disposal, and were compelled to carry
on their business in stuffy little shops, dimly lit by a hanging
oil lamp, or some other form of antiquated illumination?
Perhaps the trader of to-day has become a little inclined
to take things for granted. Those brilliantly lighted windows
in which drawing-room suites are exhibited in a real drawing-room
atmospheres, and articles of clothing, no matter whether they
are men's sportswear or the latest Paris modes for women,
are displayed in front of scenic backgrounds, which give e
them such a touch of realism, have not always been everyday
factors in retailing.
Then, the base of the modern shop window is no longer a
mere trestle places just below the window glass. In the more
capacious windows, it is only a few inches above the level
of the footway outside, and nothing but a thin strip of marble
or granite separates the plate-glass from the pavement. Full
sized carpets are exhibited in those windows, with room to
spare for rugs and sundries. Then, for the display of outdoor
goods, what ingenious devices have been brought to the assistance
of the window dressing experts! Artificial grass, hand-painted
scenery, real splashing fountains, and even sheets of glass
are fitted in to the window base to give the effect of frozen
river or lake.
The public see the winter scene in the window of the fur store.
Realistic icicles hang in the background, a perfectly natural-looking,
snow-covered ground is produced by means of cotton wool and
mica, and artificial tree branches are covered with "hoar
frost" composed of fragments of mica and white confetti.
But the up-to-date trader has long since ceased to regard
these things as novelties, and the public no longer pause
to wonder how it is done. They do not even realize how the
wintry setting of the window intensifies their desire for
a fur coat and warm raiment, even before natural conditions
have made them necessary.
All the old-style, heavy-looking shop fronts are fast disappearing,
and are being replaced by those with huge plate-glass windows,
and with narrow frames of bronze metal. The shop-fronts shown
in the illustrations on page 3 and 5, are representative of
entirely different types of retail businesses-the department
store and the multiple shop. The growth of the department
store movement, and the expansion of the idea of manufacturers
owning their own retail shops, or chain stores as they are
aptly described in the States, are other factors to which
much of the progress in retail methods may be attributed.
The Shopping Arcade.
The extent to which the modern shop window is being used for
display is amply demonstrated by the shopping arcade shown
in the first illustration. This style of shop-front treatment
enables the public to wander round and inspect the goods displayed
at their leisure, without being compelled to buy, and at the
same time avoiding the disadvantages of being jostled and
pushed while examining a window display from the pavement.
In the second illustration is shown a modern type of multiple
footwear shop. It will be noticed that the maximum amount
of space is given up to the display of boots and shoes in
the capacious windows, and that the entrance is commodious
and well-lighted. Both these shop-fronts were carried out
by Messrs. Harris and Sheldon, Ltd., of 70 Wood Street, London,
E.C.2, and Stafford Street, Birmingham, who have kindly loaned
Against these two representative types of modern shop-fronts,
it is interesting to compare the heavily mullioned windows
and narrow doorway of Birch's front (see frontispiece), and
to reflect that, too, in its day, was emblematic of commercial
THE MODERN SHOP-FRONT
The retail trader who has taken the trouble to observe the
advances which have been made in recent years in the general
style and appearance of shopping centres throughout the country,
and even in individual shops, cannot have failed to notice
the particularly marked progress evidenced in the construction
of shop-fronts, and in the facades of retail premises generally.
Some of the most noticeable improvements which have been effected
in the execution of shop-front work of recent years are -
1 The increased space which they provide for the exhibition
goods in the window.
2 The greater facilities which they afford for the inspection
window by passers-by, and
3 The departure from the old-fashioned styles of high stall-risers
and uninviting entrances.
People in all localities, even in the poorer districts, are
getting used to attractive shop-fronts. Almost without realizing
it, they notice the difference in the appearance of retail
stores, and if prices and quality are about equal, they will
generally go to the shop with the smartest exterior.
This may not apply, perhaps, with so much force to some trades
as to others; but the whole point, about this development
in shop construction, is that the trader will find himself
being left behind in the march of progress unless he makes
some effort to keep in line with modern requirements, and
has his shop-front so constructed or adapted that it provides
maximum space for display and easy facilities for the inspection
of his goods by passers-by.
As an example of the progress that has been made, even in
shops where window display, in the ordinary sense of the word,
is not carried out, the butcher's shop might be mentioned.
There was a time when the butcher scoffed at anything but
an open front; but how many butchers' shops of reasonable
size and decent standing does one see now without a sliding
plate-glass window? There are, however, specific trades which
have not developed to such an extent-that devoted to the sale
of fruit and vegetables is a good example of this-with the
result that those fruit and vegetable dealers who have invested
in up-to-date equipment and modern shop-fronts, stand head
and shoulders above the rest.
The Shop-Front and the Business
It would, in fact, hardly be an exaggeration to say that
the shop-front is the outward and visible demonstration of
the business carried on behind it. Actually, a poor, shabby-looking
façade may be the means of repelling people, even in
spite of the fact that there is an attractively-arranged window
display on the other side of the plate-glass.
It would, in fact, hardly be an exaggeration to say that the
shop-front is the outward and visible demonstration of the
business carried on behind it. Actually, a poor, shabby-looking
façade may be the means of repelling people, even in
spite of the fact that there is an attractively-arranged window
display on the other side of the plate-glass.
Retailers do not always realize that their efforts to increase
sales are often neutralized to a great extent by dingy and
unattractive shop exteriors. Outside appearances count for
a great deal, especially with new residents. They are the
only means by which potential customers can "weigh up"
the qualities of the shop concerned. Just as a slovenly and
shabby personal appearance gives a prospective buyer a poor
opinion of a salesman, so a shop-front which is badly in need
of repair, and has a nineteenth-century aspect, gives the
local public a bad impression of the business, and suggests
lack of enterprise on the part of the proprietor.
The trader who wishes to keep abreast of the times will find
it absolutely essential, therefore, to keep his shop-front
not only clean and attractive but up to date, and adapted
to the modern requirements of the public with regard to facilities
for the convenient inspection of the goods exhibited in the
An Arresting Analogy.
Attractive window display and good lighting are both essential
factors in the development of a modern retail business; but
without a suitable and attractive setting in the form of a
modern shop-front, the whole effect is spoilt and both money
and time wasted. If one may be permitted to use an even more
forceful analogy to bring home the point, it will be readily
agreed that it would be highly unsatisfactory to put a valuable
oil painting in a cheap wood frame, or to surround a dainty
etching with a heavily gilded border. They would be out of
proportion, and the frames would have a depreciating effect
upon the pictures. However valuable the works of art might
be, they would be brought down to the level of the frame.
The same applies with even more emphasis to the attractive
and well-arranged window display which is surrounded by a
shabby or weather-beaten framework.
In choosing a new shop-front, the retailer will do well to
remember that he should select a type which is in proportion
to the buying powers of the local residents. To spend a large
sum on a beautifully executed and lavishly decorated façade
in a poor district might be a waste of money; but the range
of styles and materials used in shop-front construction to-day
is so extensive, that it should be easily possible to obtain
a type of façade which is suitable for any class of
district, and there need be no fear of frightening customers
away with a too pretentious exterior, if the retailer takes
the advice of experts on the subject.
Bronze Metal Shop-Fronts
Of recent years, the most popular material used in the construction
of shop-fronts has been bronze metal, or coinage-bronze, as
it is often called. A shop-front framed in this material is
very little more expensive than one carried out with a mahogany
or high-class wood finish. The composition of the bronze metal
used for the work generally consists of 90 per cent copper
and 10 per cent spelter (zinc). The metal is keyed around
wooden cores, usually of birch.
One of the points in favour of a bronze metal shop-front is
its durability. It is practically impervious to weather conditions.
Unlike painted wood, it does not blister under a strong sunlight,
and it remains quite unaffected after a long wet season. Once
bronze metal is erected, therefore, it involves no upkeep
charges for periodical overhauling, painting, graining, varnishing,
and the like. When first erected, it has a yellowy-copper
hue; but this tones down in a short time to a permanent rich
It requires no cleaning or polishing, a wipe over occasionally
with an oily rag, and a rub with a dry polishing cloth, being
all that are necessary to keep it in perfect condition. Further,
bronze metal will not clash with any colour or material, and,
if used in conjunction with marble or granite, the general
effect is particularly pleasing.
In certain districts and in conjunction with some types of
buildings, wooden fronts may be more suitable. If an old world
setting is desired, for instance, in an ancient cathedral
city, a semi-gothic exterior would probably be produced more
satisfactorily in wood. In Exeter, Canterbury, and Winchester,
and other ancient cities in various parts of the country,
may be seen some delightful specimens of old-style shop-fronts
adapted to modern conditions.
The owners of the shops concerned have appreciated the importance
of linking up the characteristic features of their city with
their own store, and while realizing the value of an attractive
and conveniently constructed façade, have wisely refrained
from letting modern styles conflict with the ancient architectural
features in the vicinity of the shop.
Having dealt with the general tendencies in the treatment
of the retailer's premises, I now propose to deal with practical
points about the modern shop-front, so that the trader who
decides to modernize his shop exterior may have some data
on which to work out his plans for improvement.
This is the lower part of the shop-front which comes between
the bottom of the plate-glass window and the pavement. Polished
granite is generally regarded as the most suitable material
for this section. Marble is probably the next best; but it
needs careful selection, for some varieties have a tendency
to fade with exposure, and to lose their original attractive
appearance. The surface of granite is more or less impervious
to weather, and always retains its colour.
Another material which is frequently used for the front of
the riser is colour4ed tiling set in cement. Attractive colour
schemes can be introduced with this type of stall-riser; but,
here again, care must be exercised in selecting the material.
At one time, it was impossible to obtain tiles which did not
eventually split or chip. This failing has been obviated to
a great extent, and a frost-proof tile is now produced which
will stand hard wear and exposure.
Where the trader uses his basement for any particular purpose
beyond the storage of lumber, it is generally desirable to
allow for the infiltration of light from below the shop window.
Where this is necessary, the stall-riser requires different
In the past, leaded lights have generally been used for this
purpose; but they have been replaced to a great extent in
the modern shop-front by prismatic glass set in metal frames.
These add to the appearance of the riser and provide a setting
which blends admirably with most styles of shop-fronts construction;
but, what is more important, the prisms actually amplify the
light, and so increase the supply of daylight which penetrates
into the basement.
One of the most important component parts of the shop-front
is the signboard over the window, or, to give it its proper
designation, the facia. This should, of course, be in keeping
with the general style of the façade. Incised gold
lettering and glass fronts for this section of the shop-front
are not now so popular as they were some years ago, but are
being replaced in modern premises by solid bronze lettering,
fixed either to a white opalite background, or to the solid
marble or granite.
With some styles of shop-fronts, white painted lettering of
an artistic but not ornate nature is preferable. Where the
front is of wooden construction, a background of polished
wood is generally more suitable for the facia; but this requires
more frequent attention, and the cost of upkeep is naturally
greater. In industrial districts, where the atmosphere is
much affected by smoke, or where fogs are prevalent, plate-glass
facias have an advantage in that they are more easily kept
It is generally advisable for the retailer to have his name
below the window as well as above it, for the convenience
of people inspecting the display; it saves them stepping back
in order to see the name over the shop, and thus running the
risk of being jostled by the passing pedestrians. The window-riser-the
sloping front of the window base- is well adapted to this
An alternative method for the trader who does not have his
name on the window-riser, is to have small stall-plates fixed
above the stall-riser. Those of bronze metal, with raised
lettering of the same material, are very neat. There is no
possibility of the letters becoming dislodged, as each one
is completely case and screwed through from the back of the
A type of facia which is popular, but which has by no means
become commonplace, is that which takes the form of a reproduction
of the retailer's signature, in the ordinary bronze metal
lettering on an opalite background. A similar treatment can
also be given, if desired, to the name-plates below the window.
One of the latest types of name-plates suitable for use on
the window-riser is one which can be illuminated from behind.
The lettering is cut out, and the light showing through an
opalite background makes the name stand out prominently. This
can take the form of the retailer's signature, if desired,
or other lettering on opalite or some form of translucent
glass can be used.
Some years ago, it was usual to have shop-fronts with plate-glass
windows filling the whole space from facia to stall-riser;
but it was gradually realized that this left a blank effect
at the top of the window, and a great deal of this space was
wasted, particularly in certain classes of shops, where it
was not desirable to dress the window above a certain level.
To obviate this, the modern window is constructed with a semi-ornamental
treatment above the transom (the cross-bar about three-quarters
of the way up the window). This, as will be seen from the
illustration on page a 3, in addition to improving the appearance
of the shop-front, and taking off the bare effect of the plain
sheet of plate-glass from top to bottom, serves the purpose
of concealing the window-lighting equipment from the view
of the passer-by.
There are various styles of treatment for this section of
the window above the transom, and leading lights in differently
patterned designs are popular. An attractive, and incidentally
more expensive, treatment can be obtained by the introduction
of prismatic glass set in metal frames.
These ornamental transom windows can be arranged so as to
allow the daylight to penetrate above the false ceiling of
the window enclosures, into the interior of the shop, and
the last mentioned treatment is an improvement on the leaded
lights, because it actually amplifies the amount of daylight
which filters through into the interior. Translucent glass
in its various forms is another suitable material for this
section of the window.
The Representative Shop-Front.
It is surprising to what extent a shop front can be made representative
of the trade carried on behind it. In the florist's shop,
for instance, the flowers and plants can be given a more natural
setting if the whole shop-front is carried out in green. The
stall-riser can very well be covered with glazed tiles, and
the framework painted green to match. This green treatment
outside provides a wonderfully attractive setting for the
display of ferns and hothouse plants in the window. Green
is one of the most predominating of nature's own colours,
and flowers displayed behind a shop-front executed in green
have a natural appearance which must tend to add to their
In the West End of London may be seen a shop-front which is
wonderfully suggestive of a fireplace, and thus representative
of the goods sold inside (the premises of the Bell Range and
Foundry Co., 16 Berners Street). The constructional features
round the window, carried out in a faience (glazed earthenware)
are representative of a fire-surround, while the balustrade
in front suggests a hearth-curb.
A trade in which the shop-front materials can be made not
only representative of the materials sold, but can also be
used to demonstrate their effectiveness in use, is that of
the builders' merchant. Each section of the shop-front can
be made representative of the various types of building materials.
The stall-riser, for instance, could very well be covered
with different grades and colourings of tiling, and the background
construction of the window might consist of the best types
of panelling for household purposes and thus be made to demonstrate
their find appearance.
Then, the bed or base of the window could be used to emphasize
the attractiveness and good-wearing qualities of parquet flooring,
or of inlaid linoleum, the floor of the shop-lobby might be
similarly employed for exhibiting either rubber flooring or
crazy-paving in actual use.
THE SHOP ENTRANCE
The modern shop entrance is generally constructed in such
a way that it continues the good work commenced by the window,
and tends to draw people into the shop. The old-style, narrow
entrance, a common and unsightly feature of shops constructed
a few decades ago, was often a means of repelling rather than
of attracting customers.
People were, perhaps, favourably impressed by the display,
but, having made some approving comments about it, were content
to walk on and inspect the next window, and so on down the
street, without crossing over the threshold of any of the
With the modern shop-front, the gradual attraction of the
customers into the shop is much more easily effected, because
the tendency is to have fairly roomy lobbies, which permit
of extensive display on both sides, and, in certain trades,
notably that devoted to footwear, it has been found a good
plan to have a showcase just inside the door.
A doorway showcase serves the purpose of a display adjunct,
and also acts as a screen where it is desired to have the
door open without exposing unnecessarily the interior of the
shop. For example, in the case of the shoe store, the interior
is not only given up to selling and display, but also serves
as a fitting room, and customers trying on boots and shoes
are thus hidden from the gaze of passers-by.
Cases of this type form very attractive settings for the entrance
to a shop. Customers who may not have seen the exact type
of article they desire in the lobby are enabled, by means
of a showcase placed near the door, to continue their inspection
as they walk into the shop. They thus find themselves inside
almost before they are aware of it.
Often passers-by will scan the windows of a shop and, not
seeing what they require, will pass on. A doorway showcase
impels them to extend their inspection, and, having once crossed
they shop threshold, they are far more likely to go right
inside and make inquiries for whatever goods they need.
Doorway showcases permit of the display of an extensive range
of goods, for they are generally made about 6ft. 6in. high,
2ft. to 4ft. wide, and 1ft. to 2ft. deep. Variations in shelving
can be arranged, and in order to permit of frequent change
in the style of the display, it is a good plan for the trader
to have a reserve set of glass shelves. These shelves can
be raised or lowered as required by means of adjustable bars
and brackets fixed inside the case.
Alternative displays might be arranged by having three of
four full-length shelves in the case one week, and the next
week removing the three lower ones, and fitting in corner
shelves half way down the case, with a pedestal display stand
surmounted by an oval glass shelf in the centre. Other variations
will, of course, suggest themselves to the retailer or to
his display man.
The style and shape of the door-case is entirely a matter
for the taste of the individual retailer. They vary, of course,
according to the requirements of the different trades; but
the trader should be guided to a great extent by the general
style of the mural fittings and decorations in his shop. The
same applies to the materials of which the doorway showcase
is constructed. Oak, mahogany, and bronze metal are the most
popular frames, but other materials are obtainable if specially
Disadvantages of Island Windows.
Island windows and lobby showcases are not so popular among
retailers as they were a few years ago; although they are
still in use in several neighbourhoods, and are, in fact,
being constructed in conjunction with modern shop-fronts for
various classes of trade. The existence of the island showcase
has several disadvantages. It reduces the shop entrance into
a series of passages which are not generally considered so
imposing and inviting as the broad spacious effect produced
by the present-day open lobby.
Another disadvantage of the island window or lobby showcase
is that it has to be dressed from the lobby, which means that
each time a re-arrangement of the display becomes necessary,
the whole of the contents of the case have to be transferred
into the shop, and cleaning utensils, fresh fittings, and
the various items for the new display, have to be carried
out into the lobby in ones and twos, and dumped on the floor
of the lobby to enable the display man to select items as
the dressing progresses.
This involves a lot of extra time and trouble, not to mention
the inconvenience to people entering and leaving the shop,
if the display happens to be carried out during opening hours.
It can hardly be wondered, therefore, that in most of the
modern shop-fronts, these features are no longer introduced,
and that retailers have as a whole shown an inclination to
return to the expansive lobby with its more capacious windows
which can be conveniently dress from inside the shop.
In a small establishment, where the interior is inclined to
be cramped or the window space limited, it may be advisable
to have a lobby case, if the lobby is large enough to permit
of an unimpeded egress and ingress on the part of customers;
but, ordinarily, the doorway showcase is more satisfactory,
and does away with the need for any supplementary features
in the lobby. And, as has been already pointed out, a doorway
showcase is in a much more suitable position from the point
of view of drawing customers in to the shop.
The floor of the lobby looks attractive if it is carried out
in mosaic or other ornamental stone treatment, with the trader's
name or initials arranged in the centre. Rubber, with vulcanite
backing, is now popular for shop-lobby flooring. It is of
a particularly durable nature-even outlasting marble, and
may be obtained in various colours.
Lighting the Lobby.
As far as illumination is concerned, a translucent, semi-indirect
lighting fitting placed in the centre of the ceiling gives
the lobby just that necessary degree of brightness without
any element of dazzle or glare.
As a rule, outside lighting of the shop is not advisable,
the lobby and window lighting effects being sufficient to
show both window display and shop-front to full advantage.
Exterior lights, in fact, often have the effect of spoiling
the window lighting results by casting shadows or rays of
light where they are not desired.
An excellent specimen of a modern shop-front is shown in the
illustration on page 5. In this photograph, it will be noticed
that the floor of the lobby is continued in the form of a
raised pavement some feet beyond the window, for the full
length of the shop-front.
Another thing which needs consideration when a new shop-front
is being erected is the type of gate or grille to be used
when the shop is closed. It is preferable to have one which
is adapted to the style of the shop-front, and permits of
the inspection at a distance of most of the goods shown in
the lobby windows after closing hours.
Adapting Old Shop-Fronts to Modern Requirements.
It may be helpful to those retailers, who for one reason or
another are unable to contemplate the purchase of a new shop-front
at the present time, if a few notes are included in this chapter
on the adaptation of old-style entrances to modern requirements.
Between the window displays and the insides of many shops
there is often a great gulf in the shape of an uninviting
entrance, and the trader who is handicapped with a narrow
lobby will be well advised to get it adapted to modern conditions
as soon as possible. Failing that, he should see that it is
well-lighted and provides easy facilities for the uninterrupted
inspection of the goods displayed in the window.