7 DIY Inspired Ideas For Unique & Unusual Retail Displays

When my husband and I took over Crew’s Quarters, a gift store in Port Colborne, Ontario, we took over a store with a 29 year legacy of “Unique & Unusual”.  The store had become a little tired with age and we knew that when we did renovations that we wanted to It was important to focus on the “Unique” personality that people had come to love.  We decided right away to come up with displays that were not your run of the mill shelving or display stands.

My husband and I work well together.  I came up with some ideas for things we could do and he did a great job of bringing them to life.  If you are in retail, or if you’re just somebody looking for some inspiration for unique & unusual ways to add some conversation points to your home, read on!  Here are a 7 examples of how we took everyday bland and made some magic!

Birds of a feature…

Magical Tree:  One of the products people have always come to us for are whimsical garden items.  Metal birds & butterflies, bat houses, bird feeders, decorative garden spikes, you name it.  I thought it would be wonderful to have a tree in the store to draw people to the garden section.  Of course a real tree isn’t practical, but I think my hubby did a great job of creating the illusion of one.  Tree limbs, bamboo stalks, colored silk flowers and fairy lights came together to create something quite magical, don’t you think?

When life gives you lemons…

Lemonade Stand:  We stumbled upon the “Lemonaide” brand of cleaning supplies completely by accident one day when shopping in Thorold.  We bought the hand soap and loved it so much we started carrying their entire line at our store!  To draw attention to the product line I thought it would be fun to have a lemonade inspired display area.  Using old furniture pieces we up-cycled what is a frequently commented (and photographed!).  We can’t keep the product in stock!


Shipwreck Shelves:  As discussed in our “Lake Erie Love” blog, we are very blessed to have our own small piece of paradise on the lake just outside of town.  One of the treasures that wash up on shore every now and then are pieces of shipwrecks.  A lot of people don’t know this, but there are literally hundreds of shipwrecks from wooden schooners and steamers in lake Erie!  We thought it would be fun to use some of the pieces for shelves and railing.  Some of it we left au-natural, other pieces we lightly “whitewashed” for some added effect. If you aren’t lucky enough to easy access to ship wrecks I’m sure old barn boards would have a similar effect!

Be yourself, unless you can be a Mermaid… Then be a Mermaid!

Mermaid Wall:  We have a section of the store dedicated to beachy and mermaid-inspired items.  We were at a garage sale when my husband saw a giant old frame and he immediately thought of creating a mermaid wall.  He simply drew the outline in pencil by referencing some pictures he found online and then painted with craft acrylics.  The final touch: Sparkles adhered to the tail for added magic!   This project does require some artistic ability and if you’re like me and wouldn’t trust yourself, I’m sure you know somebody who would love to help out!


Bicycle Display Stand:  If you’ve ever been on Pinterest I’m sure you’ve seen a bicycle or two converted into some kind of display.  We made one of our own sticking to the “crate” theme of a lot of our displays.  We created custom sized crates for the front and back sections of the bike.  The bike is anchored to the wall at both the front and the back to ensure safety.  If you have an old bike lying around, or see one at a garage sale, you can transform it very simply into something magical!

Old is new again!

Up-cycled Desk:  The cash-out desk in this picture is the original one from the store.  It’s over 29 years old!  Call me sentimental but I really wanted to make sure we kept it for the next 29 years.  My husband refinished it by using pieces of wood from other displays in the store that he had taken apart.  He randomly placed pieces of different sizes and wood grains to make it unique and then whitewashed it for added effect.  He cut an anchor out of barn-wood wall paneling, and voila! A nautical work of art.

Beware the Kraken!

Removable Wall Stickers:  This one is as simple as could be!  We found some octopus tentacle wall stickers and added them to a wall we don’t use to display things.  It adds to the nautical theme of the store without feeling old fashioned or dated.  Applying the decals takes a little practice but are great ways to add some life to an otherwise bare space. Nautical’s not your thing?  If you go online you can find just about any kind of wall applique, no matter what your taste or style!

A Place To Leave Your Mark:  One of the very first ideas I had was to have a world map for visitors to pin where they were visiting from.  Call me old fashioned but customers aren’t just customers.  They have their own stories and live in places from far and wide.   In the course of days/months/years, it’s really nice to be able to watch this map evolve, to see where people have come from.  At the time of writing this blog the map has only been up for 4 months but the number of pins and global locales is astounding!

There you go, 7 DIY ideas to help inspire you to come up with some of your own!   When we say that Crew’s Quarters is more than just a store, we mean it.  It’s a place to escape the ordinary and embrace the unique and unusual.  We continue to come up with new display themes and ideas, we hope you can come visit us to see some of them for yourself!

Do you have your own retail  or home display inspirations? We’d love to hear about them so please leave your comments below!

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