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From the Editor

Windows to the Future

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VMSD IS STEADILY approaching a milestone anniversary this November – the 125th year of being in print. Founded in November 1897 by American literary icon L. Frank Baum, Merchant’s Record and Show Window, as it was then known, merged with Display World, at the time owned and operated by ST Publications in Cincinnati, in 1938. Eventually that merged publication (along with several name changes throughout the decades) evolved into what we know today as VMSD magazine.

When paging through the archival copies of both Display World and Merchant’s Record, it’s easy to see that window displays were the ultimate form of VM inspiration at the time. Windows have always been important for modern retailers, both large and small – they’re akin to spyglasses giving customers a preview into the store and their goods – and that hasn’t changed much, even more than 100 years later. Sure, tech advances like digital screens, or even the incorporation of AR into windows is new – and we no longer regularly stuff windows with a wild amount of goods, as was the trend in the early 1900s – but the goal is still the same: Get customers to come inside.

This year’s International Visual Competition winners and entrants proved that thought. This year, we saw an overwhelming abundance of window display entries, both holiday and non-holiday in nature. The competition highlights projects from the previous year, so these displays from 2021 showcased that, despite a global pandemic still raging on, debilitating supply chain issues, inflation/limited customer spending and strapped budgets, visual merchandising pushed ahead. (Check out this year’s winners on pg. 18 in our digital edition and in print.)

In this industry, we often talk about creating an experience, specifically in brick-and-mortar spaces, and that same level of experience must be applied to windows. How can customers immerse themselves in the in-store experience if there’s nothing to draw them inside? In short, tried-and-true visual merchandising has stood the test of time, and will continue to forge ahead regardless of the external challenges retailers face.

If you’re looking for more VM or store design inspiration, then look no further than our 22nd annual International Retail Design Conference (IRDC) taking place in Columbus, Ohio, this Oct. 26-27 – registration is now open! This year, we’ll have a plethora of hands-on workshops, interactive sessions, guided off-site retail tours and the coveted Iron Merchant Challenge, co-hosted by our friends at ZenGenius Inc. – a competition where you can really put those window VM chops to the test.

We’re so excited to unveil some of our keynote and general session speakers which include Ruth Zuckerman, the Co-Founder of SoulCycle and Flywheel; YouTuber and candy maven Gregory Cohen, Founder of Lofty Pursuits; and Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. For more information, please visit irdconline.com.

We can’t wait to see you in Columbus this fall!

Windows to the Future

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Carly Hagedon is the Managing Editor of VMSD magazine. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where she studied Journalism—Magazine Writing and American history. She also currently serves as a board member for the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

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