Denise Arey of Expressions in downtown Port Townsend speaks to Rebekah Fessenden, who will be speaking to local business owners later this week on how store design can affect sales. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

PT Main Street begins merchant coffees for year

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Main Street Program is kicking off its first Merchant Coffee Talk of the year Wednesday with guest speaker Rebekah Fessenden, who will discuss design and how it relates to sales.

“I think a lot of retail suffers from people being afraid of design,” Fessenden said. “It’s not really so daunting and there are simple things you can do to dramatically increase your sales.”

Merchant Coffee is a quarterly event hosted by the Port Townsend Main Street Program. Local business owners are invited to come to the Cotton Building, 607 Water St., from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. for coffee, treats and a presentation for a small fee.

“We try to do an educational topic so people can take away some useful information,” said Mari Mullen, director of Port Townsend Main Street. “We also try to keep it short so people can get back to their businesses and open up their stores.”

This quarter’s topic is the maximizing sales through store layout. There will be a tip sheet to take home and a raffle to win a one-hour consultation with Fessenden.

After Fessenden’s presentation and the drawing, members of the city planning committee will present a short update on the Water Street enhancement project. That project, planned to be under way in 2018, will renovate Water Street and the pipes that run under it.

Fessenden recently moved to Port Townsend from the Bay Area where she worked in marketing and purchasing for retail stores for 15 years.

“I thought long and hard about how I’d like to use my skills,” Fessenden said. “I decided I’d like to spread it around so to speak.”

“I’m mostly talking about store layout and prioritization,” Fessenden said. “Focusing on what products you’re looking to show rather than how to create a nice display window. It’s a practical, sales-based approach to design.”

Fessenden said these things can be difficult for small business owners because they are responsible for all aspects of their business.

“It’s not like a big retailer that has someone come in to tell them what the spring design is,” Fessenden said.

“We all sort of lose sight of our priorities and sometimes it takes an outside perspective. The hope is they go back to their space with a fresh view. It’s kind of like spring cleaning in your house. You don’t want to but sometimes it’s good to take the time to do that.”

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@ peninsuladailynews.com.