VMSD - February 2018 - 12

THE GOODS

B

ack when VMSD was known as
Display World, a man named Bob Cissell designed a Valentine's Day window
for the now-defunct department store
Sater's (Evansville, Ind.) that was featured on
its cover. His daughter recently
reached out to inquire about
a copy, and our editors were
able to locate the February
1961 issue, displaying a men's
apparel selection (shown, right).
The Display World editors wrote of Cissell's window:
"'For that 'Number One' Guy ...
A Heart Full of Fashion,' was
the way Bob Cissell headlined
this Valentine's display of men's
shirts for Sater's, Evansville,
Ind., shortly before leaving the display directorship of that store for the same position with
Blach's, Birmingham, Ala., where he now holds
forth ... Sater's has the distinction of being a stepping stone used by several top displaymen during
their rise to prominence.' "
Exactly 57 years after his creation graced its
cover, VMSD decided to catch up with the jovial
designer.
Cissell has had a long and storied career,
beginning as a 15-year-old high school dropout
singing on his sister's amateur Saturday radio
program. A local band leader heard Cissell on
the air and asked him to come work for him as
a vocalist. After several years of traveling with
bands, Cissell was drafted into the army during
the Korean War. Thankfully, he was stationed
in Italy for 17 months instead of joining the
combat. After returning home, getting married
and touring for a while longer, Cissell decided to
settle down.
He began working at a store called Weilley's
in Paducah, Ky., and in 1954, when the store's
displayman passed away, Cissell filled the spot.
Eventually he moved on to Sater's in 1957. (At the
time, his window budget was $2400 per year.)
After three years of working in display, Cissell
sent photographs of his work to Display World,
and to his surprise, they were picked up. Display
World's then-editor Paul T. Knapp visited Cissell
and his family to meet face-to-face.

12

february 2018

|

vmsd.com

"I sent in several photos, and I got six photographs published on one page, which was kind of
unheard of," he says. "The cover was published in
1961, and I came to Blach's in 1960."
Cissell spent years working as a store planner
for Blach's in Birmingham, Ala., and,
after spearheading a remodel shortly
after his arrival, came to realize that
designing interiors was his true passion.
In 1974, thanks to a compromise, he
stayed on at Blach's but began working
his off-hours and Saturdays designing
small non-apparel stores. In 1986, he
took that task on full-time, managing
his own one-man design business until
just four years ago, when he retired at
the age of 84. His company was unique,
he explains, in that it didn't advertise
and most of its business (roughly 58+ stores)
came strictly by word-of-mouth.
"I never signed or offered a contract. Just a
handshake. That was it," he says. "I never got beat
out of the count, and I never had a client fail to
pay me in full."
Cissell has fond memories of his time spent
during the National
Association of Display
Industries' (NADI)
Market Week in New
York (now known as
the Shop! Association's
Retail Design Collective), visiting the product showrooms, going to
swanky dinners with live
bands and seeing shows
on Broadway, as well as
top-notch live acts like
Louis Armstrong, the Smothers Brothers and Judy
Garland. "Due to the fact I had a union card from
my band [days], I could get in free to see any band
around the country. All you had to say was, 'I'm
checking union cards,' and that got you in," he
says, laughing.
It's individuals like Cissell who make our
industry colorful and rich. Their history is significant because it provides a unique perspective
on the exciting past of visual merchandising and
store design. -Carly Hagedon

C OU R TE SY O F BO B C I SS E L L , B I R M I N G H AM , AL A.

A Peek Through the Glass

top Display World featured

Bob Cissell's Valentine's
Day window on its cover in
1961.
ABoVE A design Cissell

completed in 2003 for a
retailer that wanted the
look of a Ralph Lauren
store "on a budget."


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - February 2018

Vmsd - February 2018
Contents
From the Editor
Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
The Goods
Next Store
Peace. Joy. Windows
Life on the Road
Rapid Innovation
Speaking Intimately
Showroom
Ad Index
Checking Out
VMSD - February 2018 - BB1
VMSD - February 2018 - BB2
VMSD - February 2018 - Vmsd - February 2018
VMSD - February 2018 - Cover2
VMSD - February 2018 - 1
VMSD - February 2018 - Contents
VMSD - February 2018 - 3
VMSD - February 2018 - From the Editor
VMSD - February 2018 - 5
VMSD - February 2018 - Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
VMSD - February 2018 - 7
VMSD - February 2018 - The Goods
VMSD - February 2018 - 9
VMSD - February 2018 - 10
VMSD - February 2018 - 11
VMSD - February 2018 - 12
VMSD - February 2018 - 13
VMSD - February 2018 - 14
VMSD - February 2018 - 15
VMSD - February 2018 - Next Store
VMSD - February 2018 - 17
VMSD - February 2018 - 18
VMSD - February 2018 - 19
VMSD - February 2018 - Peace. Joy. Windows
VMSD - February 2018 - 21
VMSD - February 2018 - 22
VMSD - February 2018 - 23
VMSD - February 2018 - 24
VMSD - February 2018 - 25
VMSD - February 2018 - 26
VMSD - February 2018 - 27
VMSD - February 2018 - 28
VMSD - February 2018 - 29
VMSD - February 2018 - 30
VMSD - February 2018 - 31
VMSD - February 2018 - 32
VMSD - February 2018 - 33
VMSD - February 2018 - 34
VMSD - February 2018 - 35
VMSD - February 2018 - Life on the Road
VMSD - February 2018 - 37
VMSD - February 2018 - 38
VMSD - February 2018 - 39
VMSD - February 2018 - Rapid Innovation
VMSD - February 2018 - 41
VMSD - February 2018 - 42
VMSD - February 2018 - 43
VMSD - February 2018 - Speaking Intimately
VMSD - February 2018 - 45
VMSD - February 2018 - 46
VMSD - February 2018 - 47
VMSD - February 2018 - 48
VMSD - February 2018 - Showroom
VMSD - February 2018 - 50
VMSD - February 2018 - 51
VMSD - February 2018 - 52
VMSD - February 2018 - 53
VMSD - February 2018 - Checking Out
VMSD - February 2018 - 55
VMSD - February 2018 - 56
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VMSD - February 2018 - Cover4
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