August signals the end of summer and the beginning of another school year. Both of these events offer endless display possibilities:

* S-A-L-E is a four-letter word -- use it sparingly for greater impact. Having sales too often can diminish their effectiveness and condition your customers to "wait until it goes on sale." Try to compete in other ways, such as personal service, unique merchandise, breadth of assortment, etc.

* To emphasize an end-of-summer sale, spell it out. Dress four mannequins in neutral tights and leotards and have them wear sandwich boards that spell out S-A-L-E in oversized letters.

* Dramatize your clearance sale by using everyday cleaning equipment, such as brooms, vacuum cleaners, mops, buckets, etc., to visually "tell" shoppers that you are "cleaning out" and they can "clean up" on end-of-the-season bargains.

* Place a large chalkboard in the center of your display and write an appropriate "lesson" for the passerby: "Store X presents the ABC's of back-to-school dressing" or "I must remember to shop at Store X" written over and over. You may even want to change lessons every week for greater impact.

* Shoppers love nostalgia -- try depicting a classroom from yesteryear but update it with your newest back-to-school merchandise. The contrast is sure to get the viewer's attention.

Editor's note: Every month, noted image researcher and consultant Sallie H. Boggs, Ph.D., suggests five ways to improve your store displays.