TDmonthly Magazine!
June 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 6


Leave the Church Out of Your Store

Cater to “Thinkers” With Angled Fixtures

“When someone does look down a side aisle, they typically are looking at the wall ... not the merchandise”
I’ve been studying retail for several decades — how people shop, how stores are arranged, how merchandise does or doesn’t do well. In speaking to toy-store owners, I've noticed how many have a fairly random way of organizing their merchandise.  While they tout the “discovery” aspect of such organization, it can overwhelm a casual shopper in search of a birthday or other gift.

It is great to have certain “lands,” if you will, for crafts, preschool, science and other categories to help segment your offerings. But the products are frequently placed on fixtures that limit browsing and can make a shopper feel like they are in church.


When you walk into almost any church or synagogue, you notice that all of the pews are at right angles, forcing you to look straight up to the altar. You aren’t supposed to notice who is beside you; you are to concentrate solely on the front, for obvious reasons. 

Many retailers unknowingly set their stores up in much the same way by having one central aisle that leads to a cash register and all the other fixtures at right angles. End caps are virtually unnoticed and the merch in the fixtures invisible. When someone does look down a side aisle, they typically are looking at the wall at the end of the aisle, not the merchandise in the aisle. That can limit customers’ exploration of your store, especially if they are in a hurry.


In my new book, “The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business,” I focus on the four personality types and how they are divided into Feelers and Thinkers. Thinkers, known as the Drivers or Analyticals, are ruled by the brain; Feelers, the Expressives or Amiables, by the heart. While there are more Feelers in the world, Thinkers, at 40 percent, are not to be overlooked. We need to pay attention to their shopping behaviors.

A church layout makes it easy for Driver or Analytical shoppers to walk in the door, look straight ahead, and maybe a little bit to the right and left. They can quickly “get it,” lose interest, and bolt for the door. Also, if you have a random order of merch piled high so you can’t see around anything, they will often become overwhelmed and bolt for the door. Who has time to hunt and peck?


To let Thinkers see more of your store and slow them down, place your display units at a 45-degree angle off your main aisle. Think of it like the end of an arrow where the feathers go off at a 45-degree angle.

When a customer encounters the arrow floor design, they see all the end caps, which, when displayed properly, make them stop and discover what else you have down that aisle. The arrow-fixture setup isn’t the only way to grab shoppers’ attention, but it is one that can pay big dividends.

Church photo from stock.xchng, uploaded by Jascha400d

This article contains excerpts from Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor’s new book from Wiley & Sons, “The Retail Doctor’s Guide To Growing Your Business: A step-by-step approach to Diagnose, Treat and Cure.”

Bob PhibbsWriter's Bio: Bob Phibbs is the Retail Doctor®, a best-selling author and speaker who has helped thousands of independent businesses compete. His new book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business has received praise from both Inc. magazine and USA Today and can be found at your local bookstore or ordered at He and his work have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur magazine. Questions? Contact Bob at This article was reprinted with permission of the author, Bob Phibbs, aka The Retail Doctor®. Read more articles by this author


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