The potential for giving your store some visual interest with clever props is all around you. Just start looking at ordinary objects in a new way for quick, easy and inexpensive ways to create merchandising magic. Great props can be found at market, your local hardware store, at flea markets and at garage sales. Look for treasures at the curb on bulk trash pick-up day…and don’t be afraid to do a little dumpster diving.

Ladders, for example, make great fixtures. You can place boards across the rungs of two ladders to create shelving for table linens or t-shirts. With taller ladders, you can hang a chandelier in the middle or use them to display fashion accessories. Wooden ladders help create a vintage look. Aluminum ladders lend themselves to an industrial, contemporary theme or can be painted in bright colors.
Wooden pallets can be painted and used as platforms that create a focal point. Use one or stack them for varying heights. You can use them as vertical elements – as great backdrops or as slat walls on which you can hang things.

Old doors or windows make great tables or shelving and picture frames or bad art can be painted over and re-purposed. Old chairs or furniture pieces can be used as sculptural elements. Natural elements, such as old tree stumps or tree slices, make great tabletops or stools. Just make sure you dry them out in the sun first to get rid of insects and moisture. You can gold leaf these same stumps and give them an elegant look or paint them different colors.

At hardware stores, pick up stainless steel buckets (empty one-gallon paint cans work too) in different sizes to display small merchandise such as Christmas ornaments and stocking stuffer gifts. They are easy to spray paint different colors. Scaffolding makes a great display table and can easily be painted. Painter drop cloths make good curtains and tablecloths and can be dyed different colors.
If you are at a thrift store, look for old leather luggage, old mirrors and crates that can serve as cubby-like boxes. Old TVs make great risers if you need to display at different heights. Paint chalk board paint on old paintings and make signs out of them. At estate sales, look for old china and tea pots. These are great for showing jewelry; so are old wine bottles and jugs.
When looking for props, think vertical and horizontal. Think texture, shape and color. Think about the context of your props and merchandise – modern objects don’t belong in a rustic surrounding and vice versa. And finally, think in themes. Customers respond to a story.