Retail Designs & Displays: Feel the Love (and Sales) This Valentine’s Day

Look around at the props and merchandise you have in your store—with a little creativity you can turn almost anything into a Valentine’s Day display.

A waterfall rack of dance skirts at Attitudes Dancewear, Etc., many in Valentine's Day pink. In front, a  mannequin, also in bright pink leotard and tutu.
Pull together red and pink-themed racks and displays, like these at Attitudes Dancewear, Etc., and you have an instant Valentine’s Day display. Courtesy of Attitudes Dancewear, Etc.

February is a short month, and, for dance retailers, with back-to-school and holidays over, sales can be slower. So what better opportunity to spice up your store displays—and your winter sales—with a little love-inspired decor?

It’s easy to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the dance business. Take it from Deanna Magrane, owner of Dance In Dancewear in Oakdale, NY. “I love that Valentine’s Day works well with the traditional dancewear color, pink. And ballet makes me think of romantic things,” she says. What’s more, come February your customers are ready to shop again. “People have recovered from Christmas,” she adds. “They are shopping for competition and starting to think about recital.” 

A new display can inspire customers to leave your store with a little something for the dancer they are sweet on. Look around at what you have already—with a little creativity you can turn almost anything into a Valentine’s Day display. Here, we share a few of the best props and tips for creating an eye-catching display this month. 

Tip: Group your pink and red merchandise together. 

Waterfall racks with rows of pink, magenta, red and white leotards will quickly get your customers thinking about Valentine’s Day. Beth Misek, owner of Attitudes Dancewear, Etc., in Wichita, KS, made a feature wall out of tin that had been painted pink. For Valentine’s, she hung light and bright pink leotards on that wall and placed pink-spattered dance booties on the shelf below. 

A Valentine's Day feature wall, with racks of pink and red leotards at Attitudes Dancewear, Etc. Below it a display of warm-up booties with a small silver tabletop Christmas tree.
A repurposed tabletop tree fits in perfectly with this Valentine’s feature wall display at Attitudes Dancewear, Etc. Courtesy of Attitudes Dancewear, Etc.

Misek also added love-themed dance apparel or accessories with heart details to all the displays in the store. “Throughout the year, when we receive merchandise with hearts or ‘love dance’ themes, we save it for our February displays, so that we have enough to build on throughout the store,” she says. “Cute leotards, skirts and shirts with hearts, for example, become prime centerpieces.” 

Must-Have Prop: A tabletop tree

Don’t pack your holiday decor away just yet. If you have a small tabletop tree, you can remove the Christmas ornaments and decorate it with heart-shaped ones. Misek used a gold wire and jewel tree form on her checkout counter. It is not shaped like a traditional Christmas tree, which makes it easier for her to use after the holiday season passes. 

Tip: Shop your local craft stores.

You can keep your budget low by looking for inexpensive holiday items for your display. “I go to places like Target or the craft store first, see what they have new for the season that inspires me and put together the window displays from there,” says Erin Wigzell of Saratoga Dance, Etc. in Saratoga Springs, NY. “Garlands and paper products are easy materials to work with. Garlands especially add a lot visually to a window with minimal effort. I keep a budget, usually around $50.”

Must-Have Prop: Valentine’s Day cards

Pretty pink and red Valentine’s Day cards make a beautiful backdrop when they are clipped to lines and hung across your front window. That’s what Wigzell did in the windows of Saratoga Dance, Etc. one year.

Mannequin with burgundy red leotard and pink tulle skirt at Saratoga Dance, Etc. Valentine's Day cards form a backdrop.
Valentine’s cards and hearts make a beautiful backdrop to a window display at Saratoga Dance, Etc. Courtesy of Saratoga Dance, Etc.

“I found the cards as a boxed set along with the string of lights at our local Target,” she says. “The bright colors were what drew me to them. We have large hanging frames in all our windows that make it easy to create fun and seasonal backdrops. I attached thin florist wire to the frames to hang the cards in horizontal rows and then hung the lights in front of them. We luckily had the perfect leotard, tutu and belt that color-coordinated with the cards.”

Tip: Organize a sweet sale. 

If you have merchandise that’s moving slowly, adding it into a pink-and-red display during a sale or event can speed up sales. Magrane likes to get her customers’ attention with catchy phrases, like “The Sweetest Sale” or “Gifts With No Calories!” To drum up extra traffic, she often will hold a pointe shoe decorating event at the same time. 

Must-Have Prop: A box of chocolates

To avoid a melty mess, re-create a box of chocolates with cardboard, an old egg carton and some cupcake wrappers. That’s what Magrane did for a Valentine’s Day window display. “I painted the [upside down] egg cartons to look like candy, and I wrapped some in foil,” she says. “In the back I put batting and glued red satin on that, and added a big bow.” A large heart was the focal point of the display, and many people remarked on it, she says. The rest of the window featured mannequins in bright red and pink leotards with pink tutus and floral ballet skirts. Magrane says the chocolate box was such a hit that she packed it away carefully to use again. 

Store window for Valentine's Day at Dance in Dancewear, with pink and red leotards. A heart-shaped prop, which looks like a box of chocolates, hangs above.
A heart-shaped box of chocolates was a focal point in this Valentine’s Day window at Dance in Dancewear. Courtesy of Dance in Dancewear

Tip: Create a frame around a simple window display to make it stand out.

For holiday windows, Holly Bertucci, owner of The Dance Bag in Modesto, CA, created snow globes by taping six-foot circle-shaped stencils she had made out of butcher paper to the window and spraying around them with snow paint. Behind each clear circle she placed mannequins dressed in Nutcracker costumes that a local professional company was getting rid of. 

You can give this snow-globe window display a Valentine’s Day twist. Swap the Nutcracker costumes for pink and red leotards, dresses and tutus, and stencil large hearts around each item. Add a few extra hearts to make the message hit home. 

Three mannequins in The Dance Bag store window wearing tutus, framed by a snow-globe like circle.
A snow globe, like this one at The Dance Bag in Modesto, CA, could be adapted with a heart-shaped cutout for a red or pink Valentine’s Day store window. Courtesy of the retailer

Must-Have Prop: Window paint 

Use tempera paint and a sponge (a brush can leave too many streaks) to create love-filled designs in your windows. Add hearts, Xs and Os, or another love-inspired message.

If you don’t trust your freehand drawing skills, search for window decals. For example, UK-based SirFace Graphics sells reusable clear vinyl window stickers with heart shapes or “Love” on them. You can also look at your local craft store for white spray paint that is specifically made for creating snow and ice on windows. 

The Bottom Line

Clever visual merchandising always has the power to drive traffic into your store and turn browsers into buyers. Valentine’s Day displays will draw people to pause at your front window and to step inside. So put your heart into your Valentine’s Day store displays—think creatively about how you can use merchandise, props and color themes, and you’ll give a welcome boost to your winter sales.

Last updated January 13, 2020

Libby Basile is a former editor of Dance Retailer News who writes frequently on retail merchandising and displays.