Inviting entry, or ‘stay out!’ sign? / by Annette Tait

Entrance to The Chop & Wok, Scottsdale, Arizona. Doesn't that make you want to see more?

Entrance to The Chop & Wok, Scottsdale, Arizona. Doesn't that make you want to see more?

Does your entryway invite passersby to enter, or does it blend in with the landscape?

“You have to grab them in the first four seconds while they are approaching,” writes Robert J. Gibbs in his book, Principles of Urban Retail Planning and Development. According to Gibbs, “It takes eight seconds to walk by a typical storefront. Once someone is two seconds past the door, they will not turn around.”

Entryways say so much about their buildings and what might be found inside. Often overlooked as opportunities, entryways are spaces that set the tone for the encounter ahead.

What does your entryway say about you? Does it pique curiosity? Does it invite passerby to enter? Does it paint a clear picture of what will be found on its other side? Or does it subtly – or perhaps clearly – say “dreary,” “boring, or “do not enter”?

Urban Indigo Gift Shop, Oakland, California. The MerCats draw people in hook, line, and sinker!

Urban Indigo Gift Shop, Oakland, California. The MerCats draw people in hook, line, and sinker!

Why not roll out the red carpet? Or, according to Bob Phibbs, “The Retail Doctor,” a red welcome mat? Or fly some flags or banners?

Entryways have many functions --they are an important part of their establishments. An entryway can tell us what to expect once we pass through it -- a church, perhaps, or a store. They can tell us what type of business is inside. And if that business is open or closed. They may serve as the local bulletin board in a rural community, or set the tone of the business.

Is a chalk sign allowed on the sidewalk out front? Freshtight Designs suggests using a daily dose of humor, advertising daily specials, or even some funky artwork to turn attention your way. What you put on your chalk sign is up to you – just make sure to change it daily so it doesn’t get stale, and use common sense if adding humor.

Do good things, crack a joke, advertise your daily special, or use a quirky image to make people smile -- and walk through your door.

Do good things, crack a joke, advertise your daily special, or use a quirky image to make people smile -- and walk through your door.

Another way to put your entryway to work is making it a striking invitation to investigate further by using of color and architectural details. Or lead into a more formal atmosphere with more subdued touches.

Similar to the beginning a chapter in a book, an entryway establishes a story that has yet to unfold.

The entryway is also a very affordable way to change your business’s dynamic.  It is a spot where risks can be taken, and even on a limited budget, have a remarkable effect. The devil is in the details, and here’s where small details matter.

An entryway can also be art. It can be so many things!

Entryways of Berthoud: Doors as Art. How could a person just walk on past?

Entryways of Berthoud: Doors as Art. How could a person just walk on past?

In Berthoud, Colorado, a joint effort between the city, businesses, and homeowners produced Entryways of Berthoud to showcase art and their community. They invited folks to submit photos of entryways and these were then turned into notecards and posters. 

Think about the places you frequent. How do they make you feel? Welcome? Not so much?

What about your entryway? Is it welcoming? Does it tell a story? Spark the imagination? Tempt you?

How can you use your entryway to enhance your business or community?