Store Planning Series: When to Buy Store Shelves

By Steve Di Orio
Posted in Store Management
On November 20, 2015

When you are planning the layout of your store, retail shelving will likely play a major role. No matter what industry you work in: convenience, pharmacy, pet, liquor, beauty, etc., there are store fixtures that are made to showcase your merchandise. But what kind of shelves do you need and when should you buy them? We’ll help you answer these questions.

Let’s start with the basics. Gondola shelving and more.

Gondola shelving is known as the “workhorse” of the retail industry for a reason. These shelves are versatile enough that you’ll find them in almost any store. They are available in custom colors and a variety of sizes to meet most needs. They stand on their own which means they don’t require walls for support.

Classic wall shelving and standard shelves are a couple more basics that most stores will find a need for. More customized displays like heavy duty shelves, magazine racks, bakery display racks, pharmacy fixtures and tire racks will be needed based on what kind of retail business you are running.

You’ll most likely also need a sales counter. Sales counters are a bonus space for displaying merchandise while also providing a convenient place for transactions.

If you want to take advantage of tight or limited spaces, consider options such as end unit displays, end frames, extenders, and corner units. These shelving options are meant to build upon your existing displays to utilize as much available space as possible.

Here’s a quick checklist for some must-have retail shelving:

  • Gondola shelving
  • Wall shelving
  • Standard shelves
  • Custom fixtures
  • Industry specialty options (magazine racks, bakery racks, pharmacy, etc.)
  • Heavy duty shelving (for bigger items or backstock/warehouse purposes)
  • Sales counter
  • End and corner units and extenders

Now that you’ve determined what kind of shelves you’ll want to begin with, how do you determine when to purchase them and start outfitting your store?

If all goes according to plan, 6-8 weeks prior to your store opening is a great time to formulate a fixture floor plan while allowing for enough time for any revisions to that plan. The manufacturing of the store fixtures takes 3-4 weeks, and depending on the size of the store, installation could take anywhere from 2-5 days. Therefore, 6 weeks or so gives retailers a good grace period to have the entire store as perfect as possible prior to opening.

With the exception to doors and windows, shelving and counters are usually the last thing retailers need to install outside of any signage inside or outside the store. Lighting, electrical and the flooring are done first for oblivious reasons.

Steve Di Orio

Steve Di Orio


Steve has been with Handy Store Fixtures for over 15 years. After becoming the Marketing Manager in 2006, he was named Director of Marketing. Steven earned his MBA from Montclair State University with a specialization in Digital Marketing in 2019. When not at work, he loves to travel, play golf, exercise, and talk all things search engine marketing and retail display tips.