» Trade Show Toolbox

Four Hot Trends in Retail Store Design

tradeshowtoolsWe create more than trade show booths; we also put our strategy-focused design process to work designing product displays and retail environments. For some clients, we build out entire store interiors, and for others, we fabricate customized displays to showcase a particular product line on the retail floor. We’re always watching store design trends, and here are some we’re seeing all over the place.


Product stories


Increasingly, what sets a product apart is not what it looks like, but where it comes from. Shoppers want to know if things are manufactured sustainably; if they’re designed locally; if they’re made by hand or by machine; and what your company is all about. FrontLine Exhibits can design multimedia kiosks and displays that help tell those important stories.


Mobile and modular displays


With fierce pressure from online shopping, retailers need to engage shoppers’ attention anew every time they walk in. One way to do this is with store fixtures that can be moved around, adjusted and reconfigured. “Modular and mobile fixtures are now in huge demand, and displays must be able to incorporate mobile graphics or be multi-functional,” SPC Retail says. Custom-fabricating modular displays is one of our specialties.


Pastels and monochrome color palettes


Millennial pink” may be the shade that started it all, but pastels continue to be a hip colorway in retail environments. “Combined with more vibrant colors and tones, these pastel colors created balance to produce a more energetic space. Combined with whitewashed wood, the palette remains soft and airy, creating a tranquil atmosphere,” observes VMSD.




Millennials love their houseplants, as media outlets have recently been reporting. The concept of indoor jungles, or “planteriors,” is a growing trend in retail design too. Adding plants to a retail space can be a challenge, as they require the right kind of light, container and care. CARIN, a high-end sunglasses boutique in Seoul, has drawn admiration for its bright, laboratory-themed environment populated by succulents and cacti. While we’re not gardeners, we can help build structures and displays that include space for greenery.


Interested in our retail design services? Contact us and let’s talk!

Easy Accent Pieces that Make Your Trade Show Booth Stand Out

tradeshowtoolsIn this space, we’ve talked about how to be memorable at a trade show (without hiring mimes or handing out super-expensive swag). One effective way to do it is to add thoughtful accent pieces to your booth. It’s kind of like furnishing a house — you may already have the walls and the furniture, but what about the lighting, the carpet and the décor? Each of these elements can help your trade show booth attract attendees. » Read More

Trade Show Tips: How to Be Memorable

tradeshowtoolsEvery company at a trade show wants your attention RIGHT NOW. They court attendees with aggressively friendly sales staff, piles of swag and ever more elaborate trade show displays. But a week after the show ends, most of these exhibitors have faded from memory. Only a few remain.

Clients often ask us, “What’s the secret to being one of the few companies attendees remember long after the show is over?” Here’s what we say.

» Read More

Vender Profile: Featherlite Exhibits


When you’re shopping around for trade show displays, it can be hard to tell the difference between manufacturers. Almost every company promises high-quality displays, simple setup, flexible configurations, et cetera, et cetera. But there are a few standouts in the industry, and one of them is Featherlite Exhibits.

We’re one of the few trade show display companies in the Mid-Atlantic to partner with Featherlite, which is based in Minneapolis and manufactures its products in the United States.

Featured Product: Featherlite Medallion Tension Fabric Displays for use in in-line and small island configurations.

Why we’re fans of Featherlite Exhibits

Consistent high quality: We’ve been selling Featherlite displays for a while, and our clients have been universally pleased with both the durability and ease of setup. Featherlite’s displays are well made, with clearly labeled parts and simple instructions. Other, cheaper displays are hard to set up and can appear warped. “It literally looks like someone twisted it,” says Chase Howells, FrontLine Exhibits’ Senior Account Manager. “It’s really embarrassing.”

Graphic flexibility: Most trade show display vendors sell a standard assortment of square and rectangular booth elements. Featherlite gives you countless options, including angled headers and curves and varying heights and widths. We really like the placards they offer, too: smaller graphic elements that attach securely to the frame and add more dimension to a display.

10x10 Tension Fabric

Interchangeable elements: You don’t always want your trade show exhibit to look the same, right? You may want to add elements to fill a larger space, or swap out pieces to tailor your message to a particular show audience. Featherlite makes it easy. One setup we particularly like is deceptively simple: just two side-by-side tension-fabric panels. With two-sided printing, you can place messaging on both sides of each panel and instantly have a customizable, changeable display. Printing the second side costs a fraction of the price of printing a full additional display.

Superior print quality: “We’ve looked at 20 different companies’ fabric printing, and they’re by far the best,” Howells says. Featherlite prints displays with the dye sublimation process, which dyes the image onto the fabric instead of directly printing on its surface. You can see the difference: blacks, blues and reds are saturated, photos are crisp and gradients are clear. “People are always very impressed with the end product,” Howells says.

The Dos and Don’ts of Banner Stands

tradeshowtoolsRetractable banners. Pull-up banners. Pop-up banners. Roll-up banners. Banner-ups. Window shades.

Whatever you like to call them, banner stands are everywhere. They’re the most common element in trade show exhibit design, because they’re easy to customize, they’re cheap and they’re simple to set up. But, like any other component of your trade show presence, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use them.

What NOT to Do With Banner Stands

Because they’re so versatile and inexpensive, pull-up banners are sometimes overused. We’ve seen clients build entire trade show exhibits out of banner stands. They’ll order three or four custom banners and place them in a line. They pull each one up and bam! Instant booth backdrop.

There are a few problems with this. One, it’s hard for a single person to lug three or more separate bags, instead of a single pop-up display, to a trade show. Two, most banner stands aren’t as durable as a real trade show display. If one gets torn or damaged, your company’s brand presence will suffer. And three, they just look cheap when they’re standing next to other, professionally designed booths.

 How to Use Banner Stands Effectively

  • DO use the right pull-up banner for the job. If you’re planning an outdoor event, buy banner stands that are designed to withstand the weather. The MediaScreen2 Outdoor Banner Stand, for instance, has a heavy base and bends in the wind.
  • DO use banner stands when you need to maintain a presence offsite. One FrontLine Exhibits client purchased over 300 banner stands to place in senior-living facilities, with a straightforward goal: to inform residents about a specific insurance product.
  • DO use banner stands for updates and accents. Maybe you already have a beautifully designed trade show display, but you want to highlight a new product, or celebrate an anniversary. The best way to convey that message on a pop-up banner.
  • DO limit the amount of copy on your banner stand. A small banner can’t tell your company’s entire story. They’re not meant to be read; they’re meant to be seen and reacted to. Talk to our in-house designer about your goals, and we’ll design custom banner stands that get the message across.

“Order Takers” Vs. Impression Makers

tradeshowtoolsHere’s a secret trade show exhibit companies don’t want you to know:  A lot of them are order takers.

What does that mean? Their goal is to get the trade show booth design process over as quickly as possible, without thinking too hard. So they “work out of the book.” They recommend a suite of products made by a single manufacturer, so they can order all the pieces of your trade show exhibit at once. Backwall, counter, lightboxes, done.

There’s one problem with the order-taking approach. Your trade show booth design can end up looking exactly like everyone else’s. It says as much about your company as your lunch sandwich says about you. » Read More

Bringing a Trade Show Approach to Retail Design

tradeshowtoolsMany companies think of their trade show booth and their retail or showroom space as completely separate. Makes sense, right? One is temporary, one is permanent. One is made of fabric and frames; the other is drywall and concrete.

The truth is, they’re more alike than different. Both are branded environments, where the visual elements reflect your brand’s mission and personality. And the design principles that we use for trade show booth design also apply to your permanent space. The goal is the same, after all: To seize customers’ attention and inspire them to buy.

Building branded environments is a big part of what FrontLine Exhibits does. We provide the concepting, layout design, project management, custom flooring and fixtures utilizing a wide range of materials, and retail graphics. » Read More

Your Trade Show Marketing Timeline

tradeshowtoolsWhen should your trade show marketing begin?

Not a week before. Not three weeks before.

Two months before the show. That’s when savvy marketers begin reaching out to prospects to lay the groundwork. The goal, explains Chase Howells, FrontLine Exhibits’ Senior Account Manager, is to “try to win people before they ever hit the floor.” Attendees have a list of must-see companies and people, and here’s how you can get onto that list. » Read More

Debriefing a Bad Trade Show Experience


tradeshowtoolsA bad trade show experience feels uncomfortably like an awkward middle-school mixer. You’re all dressed up and ready to make a connection, but no one’s even looking at you — let alone asking you to dance.

When an event goes poorly, treat it as an opportunity to analyze and hone your trade show strategy so you can succeed next time. The key is always, always collecting quantitative data about each trade show experience: not only the number of leads but the number of brand impressions, the close rate, the sales value of each lead and the cost of attending, including all travel, personnel and exhibit expenses. Then, analyze your numbers and your own observations to figure out where things went wrong. » Read More

Should You Choose a Lounge-Style Trade Show Booth?

tradeshowtoolsGet ‘em in. Get ‘em out.

That’s the approach that many trade show booths take. They try to attract as many show attendees as possible with a drink or free swag, then move them along. But is that strategy working for you?

Recently, we’ve had multiple clients redesign their trade show booths to get rid of the wet bar and add a lounge area. They figured out that they could have more meaningful encounters with prospects by inviting them to linger, instead of plying them with drinks.

It’s easy to add a lounge to your trade show booth, for minimal cost. Rent comfortable furniture, such as a few sofas or upholstered chairs arranged around coffee tables. Don’t forget the lighting, which can create a warm and inviting feel. Set up easily accessible charging stations, and you’re ready to go. The goal is to create a space that draws in weary show attendees and provides an opportunity for a low-pressure sales conversation. But this approach isn’t for everyone. First, ask yourself these questions.

 1. Who’s your audience? 

We always say there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for trade show booth design. You have to know your target audience, then adapt the booth for them. For example, if you’re attending a trade show for the travel or foodservice industries, then hospitality is the name of the game. Your space should be welcoming and inviting, and a lounge design can be a good fit.

 2. What are your trade show goals?

If you want people to linger so that you can strike up conversations, a lounge-style trade show booth design works well. But if you need to funnel hundreds a day through your booth, you don’t want people sitting around — attendees or salespeople. You need all hands on deck. Or, if your primary goal is to woo a select handful of prospects, a private meeting room or cocktail hour might be a better option.

3. What type of lounge looks like your brand?

“Lounge” doesn’t have to mean big, cushy couches. In fact, many attendees prefer a counter with bar stools, where they can linger and charge their devices but can also make a quick getaway, if needed. Your lounge can resemble a living room, a lobby, a café or a club — whatever best fits your brand.

Curious to see how a lounge could fit into your trade show booth? Just give us a call, and we’ll talk about the options.