In the last Blog we looked at who you are buying for and what they may buy from your shop. Now let’s see how you choose the right products to commission in your venue’s own style! First of all what ‘themes’ could you work with? It could be your location, the buildings you are situated in or the ‘collections’ you house. Maybe you represent a certain period in history or it’s about rural activities? Whatever your purpose then it could inspire a collection of products. CHOOSE 3 THEMES that are connected with and relevant to your venue. Now, having got your themes you need to start looking for suitable images and/or designs. This is usually best with the support of a designer but it’s not essential if you don’t have the budget. For each theme you should look at creating a ‘mood board’. This can be fun and it makes a good team training event. Get a cork board or similar of quite a large size and pin into the middle of it a photo of the theme’s central image. Now collect other images or drawings and, if you need to, take some pictures of your own. Give the theme a name – this might be your venue’s name but if you have 3 themes each will have a unique name. When you put your mood board together carefully select colours appropriate to the theme, which sit well together – no more than five colours including white or cream. Find pantone references for the colours you like and make a note of them on the board – they will be the only colours you use in this collection. Try to find fabric swatches that reflect your palette but looking at texture and design styles too, you can sometimes get these for free from home departments in large stores- they too will go on your board. Now, think about suitable products, find pictures of mugs, stationery, jewellery etc. in brochures or magazines, which have the style you are aiming for, look at the shape and where the design is printed. Now, is this a traditional, classic or contemporary feel you are developing? Try to keep it to one style for each theme so that when you merchandise your ‘collection’ it sits well together. When you have completed your ‘mood board’ call in some of your best suppliers and ask them to look at the board and come up with products that would fit. Many good British companies offer product design services, using a mood board ensures that different suppliers create products that ‘mix’ well with each other. Finally using the colours and textures you have chosen, find generic products that will enhance the ‘collection’ and support your bespoke products. If you create your own mood boards perhaps you would share pictures of them with us all? Visit our website www.secondaryspend.com for great articles to support your retail and catering. Join the forums and look at our Heritage Retail Masterclass training programme.