It’s hard to believe that this is the seventh year for the Iron Merchant Visual Merchandising Challenge, held during VMSD’s International Retail Design Conference (September 5-7 at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown, irdconline.com). I guess time really does fly when you are having fun. And yes, we have had some fun! When I look back over the years and the range of challenges and secret ingredients (from water and fabric to children’s art supplies) that we have covered, it reminds me how exciting the world of visual merchandising is and how proud I am to be a part of this industry.
The goal of the Iron Merchant Challenge is to bring awareness to visual merchandising as an important aspect of retail design, while creating a fun, interactive experience that stands out from traditional power-point slide presentations. The session offers an interactive environment that encourages learning, teamwork, networking and testing mad creative skills under pressure – all while fabricating a window display in one hour. It thrills me when I see teams working together towards a common goal and, even more, when I see people connect in a meaningful way with other conference attendees. Seeing the final displays is the final thrill!
The 2012 challenge is measuring up to be just as exciting as past years and I’m looking for this year’s team leaders and participants to create some “extra-ordinary” moments. Throughout the year, all of us experience many, many moments. But usually there are a few that stand out and inspire us. Visual merchandisers create many of these moments with their amazing displays and striking presentations that captivate our attention and conjure a memory, an emotion or an action.
I look forward to seeing everyone in Chicago and sharing an extra-ordinary experience with you at this year’s Iron Merchant Challenge. And I can’t wait to see who will be walking away with the coveted winner’s sashes. Until then, I’m keeping this year’s secret ingredient under wraps.
In addition to creating VMSD’s Iron Merchant Challenge, Joe Baer is the founder of ZenGenius, LLC, based in Columbus, Ohio, which provides freelance visual merchandising services to retailers.