Marketing From the Outside In: The Value of Window Dressing

When you hear the word “windows” you automatically think of Bill Gates and Microsoft. But there are lots of other meanings for the word.

Shops, stores and even cafes know the value of their windows. These are frequently big plate glass affairs that face the passing parade on the sidewalk.

Years ago, these store windows were filled with items being offered to the public. Window decorating was important, and these enticements drew people inside the store.

Well, it’s deja vu all over again. Today, young people born after 1990 are a different breed. They are opting to live in walkable neighborhoods and towns–foregoing yesterday’s flight to the suburbs. They like to live and work and shop where they can walk to the businesses and restaurants that satisfy their wants and needs.

So, again, the storefront window is becoming an important marketing tool for businesses located in towns. Displays of jewelry, clothing, collectibles and gifts are well known. But other businesses can get in on this act.

Drawing a crowd

Consider the cafe that locates its kitchen in the plate glass window that faces the sidewalk. People walking past are confronted with the cook hard at work preparing meals. Strollers are tempted to stop, to linger and watch, and they are suddenly hungry. It turns a cafe into entertainment.


Or consider the gift shop that installs a painter in its storefront window. Watching an artist create an oil painting can enthrall strollers on the sidewalk. How about a weaver at a loom? Or a wood turner? A jewelry maker? The people passing will stop, and then they come inside.

Then there was the bagel shop owner who went looking for antique equipment. He installed the clunky machine in the front window and drew crowds watching bagels drop onto a moving assembly line before being automatically dropped into the steaming tank at the end. Suddenly, he was in the entertainment business–and the demand for bagels reached a new level.


Create new interest

Any business with a display window can attract more attention. Whether you face a sidewalk or a parking lot, you can trigger the imagination of shoppers with renewed window displays.

It is common to display signs, products, plants and other things in windows. But using your imagination, you can do so much more. At the very least, install a big screen television in your window and show videos–live models in a clothing store, demonstrations of tools in use in a hardware store, how-to yoga demonstrations. You get the picture, and so will your customers.

Plate glass windows that offer up action figures will draw more attention than static displays. Your window can add a new dimension to your marketing. Lose the posters and signage. Open it up. Think outside the box, and get your windows moving.


Over the past 40+ years, Al has founded, operated, grown and expanded several small businesses. He knows the acid burn in his stomach when the cash flow stops flowing. For 10 years, Al headed the Business Owners Institute in New Jersey. Helped over 2,000 business owners work through problems. Currently he writes a daily Free blog In his spare time, Al has written over a dozen books–find them online at