Selling Practical Gifts – Displaying Soaps and Candles

Candles and soaps alike are scented favorites for gifts and home purchasing. But displaying these popular products well is the key to turn scent shoppers into buyers.
At Candle Delirium in West Hollywood, Calif., the shop’s Sales and Store Manager Brice Oates said he keeps things interesting in the 4,000-square-foot shop by changing the store’s full display by the season. “Periodically, we change by both scent and with décor that fits time of year, such as holiday decorations in the winter, and spring and summer flowers. Currently, we have beautiful quince branches in our window.” The shop carries luxury, high-end candles, such as Voluspa and Nest candles.

Nancy Knorr, owner, Knorr Candles, Del Mar, Calif., photographed with gifts, and with a candle display in the background. Decorative floral arrangements and textured displays that are seasonal or themed are used to capture shoppers’ attention at the store.

Displaying these candles is all about accessibility to samples for Oates’ airy store space. “We make sure there is a sample out of everything that comes into the store, and that customers can easily try the product. Most of the brands are purchased as gifts, so we put the candles on shelves by brand in a manner that’s easy for shoppers to find. Every customer is different, but having been in business for 17 years, we know how they tend to shop.” When it comes to soap, his sudsy scents are second in terms of quantity to candles, but are certainly not forgotten, and equally luxurious with brands such as Archipelago and Diptyque. “Candles are the main thing here, but we display our soaps and lotions in a separate bath and body section. For sampling, we use the lotions as our testers for scents.”

Plush and candles make a unique display at Knorr Candles. Candles are sometimes grouped by manufacturing lines at the store.

In Tucson, Ariz., at Rustic Candles, Sales Associate Alexis Ho, speaking for owner Monica Cota, related that the shop carries a variety of different soaps, salt scrubs, and bath bombs. “We have everything that smells good or makes you smell good. We display our soaps similarly to our candles, but because our candles are handmade here, there are some differences. Our soaps are also handmade, just not by us,” she added. In regard to the soaps the shop carries, Ho said, “One way we express their uniqueness is by positioning some of the elements the soaps contain near them in displays, for example flower parts, or coffee grounds, salt, sugar, whatever it is that the soap may contain. But we also categorize them, grouping as we do our candles, by type of scent, such as placing all floral scented items together. It all works to create interest.”
Turning to the shop’s candle selection, she noted, “Our pours have a somewhat rustic finish, as our name points out. They aren’t a smooth, single tone; they have color variations that make them look eclectic and interesting. And we stack them and layer them in our displays which makes them look even cooler on our shelves.” The store groups by scent types that go well together, she said. “We group floral, musky, masculine scents in the same family or we group complementary families of scents together. And that’s what we’d recommend others do, as well, because it encourages customers to explore additional scents they may like.”

Unique candles and a pet-themed sign at Knorr Candles. Many of the candles the store sells are the unscented beeswax variety.

To make soap and candle displays even more interesting, Ho said, “We do thematic displays for the holidays, or for Day of the Dead with little skulls on sticks, things like that. We try to use different shapes and décor touches that go with the season for a little bit of flair.”
In Santa Monica, Calif., Anna Kovalyt, store manager at Stone Candles, also displays her soaps and candles separately. “With soaps, we have bars, crystals, and liquids, and we group those together both by type of soap product and by color. This works well for us because people can easily find what they want, and the displays are attractive.”
Kovalyt’s top display tip for candles is to use alphabetical order. “We have so many different scents, alphabetical grouping makes it easier to find them. We do also try to group candle vase type together, such as the taller ones and smallest ones together, because we use reclaimed bottles of all different types that works best. We also have displays that reveal what the scents are through decorations like fall leaves or dried flowers, and we are intuitively creative with our signages that describe them.”

Gifts in spring colors make a unique seasonal display at Knorr Candles. Thematic displays are often created at the store.

She said that using the natural elements that make up each candle scent helps to make displays more interesting.
At Knorr Candles in Del Mar, Calif., Owner Nancy Knorr offers candles made by her company as well as those made by outside manufacturers. Soaps are not made in-house. “We group soaps with candles if they fit into a theme for us, such as vanilla scented soaps and candles. But many of our candles are unscented beeswax.” For candle display, “We go by style and by color, and in regard to the candles we purchase from outside makers, we group sometimes by the manufacturing lines, or we just group them all thematically. Right now, we have an Easter theme where we group candles that fit with that theme in terms of color and other items such as a lovely picture frame. We often group items together, such as frames or soaps, combined with the candles that we manufacture and those that we purchase from other makers.” Other tips that she shares for display in her 3,500-square-foot-store includes using decorative floral arrangements and textured displays that are seasonal or themed. “We really try to create a look that suggests something like ‘here is a beautiful candle that you’d want to see in your home grouped with these other items.’”

Colorful candles on display at Knorr Candles. Owner Nancy Knorr offers candles made by her company as well as those made by outside manufacturers.

Carina Manz, buyer for Lucca Great Finds in Seattle, Wash., offers a variety of candles, many locally made. “We are currently getting in a lot of soy-based candles from multiple companies. We group by company, and size, because we often get multiple sizes in the same scent or line. But color plays a part, too.” For soaps, which are kept primarily in the Bath and Body Collection section of the shop, Manz groups in the same way, by size and color. “With both candles and soaps, I do pull a few pieces out to tell a story and cross merchandise with other store items around a specific theme or holiday.” The store primarily keeps items within their own sections in the 1,000-square-foot space. “Our seasonal or themed displays will be at the front of the store. Recently we had a Valentine’s themed display in which I was cross-merchandising candles and soap with other gift items. We also do displays by season, such as summer and fall. With seasonal items in mind, we have a popular line of Sidney Hill candles that offer seasonal scents.”
From color to scent type to the elements they contain, shops use a wide variety of display techniques for their soaps and candles to enhance appeal and lift sales.

An eye-pleasing candle display at Knorr Candles. Candles are displayed by style and color at the store.

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