Q. What new trends are you seeing in fixture display and development in the retail industry?

A. There are several. First, retailers today, more than ever, want and need more bang for their buck. The aesthetics of a custom fixture are obviously important. However, the adage "form follows function" is more of a standard than a guideline. Existing systems can be the starting point of new custom fixturing. Standard hardware can then be used on the fixture, saving development time and overall costs.

Second, the look of the custom fixture is key. The application of wood elements, such as wood caps and panels, onto existing metal systems is a very cost-conscious but effective way of upgrading. For example, a simple four-way rack can be upgraded with a decorative wood feature panel attached to one arm. This alerts the customer that the merchandise framed out by the wood panel is "special." The end result often is increased sales.

And, third, there is a movement away from recessed fixture mounts. A freestanding fixture, as well as perimeter hardware, is considered an asset to a retailer. However, the recessed standards buried in the wall are considered part of the building structure and, once installed, have no dollar value. Perimeter systems that mount directly to finished walls allow the retailer to have 100 percent ownership of the fixturing. The system in its entirety can be easily removed from the store and re-installed in the new space. This creates a re-usable system.

Dale Ginger is director, custom fixture development for Dann Dee Display Fixtures. For more information, contact Ginger at 7555 N. Caldwell Ave., Niles, IL 60714-3807; (847) 588-1600; fax: (847) 588-1620.