Setting a good first impression on your customers is a key precursor before getting them to spend their hard-earned money. One of the best ways to do that is by making your storefront look nice and welcoming.

There are many ways to enhance the appeal of your store’s facade. For instance, putting up eye-catching text works well. But one often overlooked but effective way of catching a prospecting customer’s attention is by setting up a fabric structure.

A fabric structure is a type of design that uses woven fabric as a rooftop covering. Its fundamental framework consists of two main parts: the fabric and the structural base. 

Typically, fixed poles prop up the fabric structure in place. The fabric is stretched and tensed relative to the measurements of the fixed poles, creating ample cover that can be used as shade. 

If you’re in the market for some fabric structures for your business but don’t know where to start, this article will show you five fabric structure options for your brick-and-mortar business.

Let’s take a look at these fabric structures in more detail.

1. Accent Awnings

If you have a small brick-and-mortar stall situated between a block of other stores, an accent awning is a good choice. Accent awnings are fabric structures that are typically mounted on top of entrances and doorways of storefronts. They help protect customers from rain and harsh sunlight.

Besides its functional purpose, accent awnings also come in a variety of shapes, lengths, and colourways. This makes its design customisable depending on the needs of your business.

For instance, it’s possible to have a little curtain fall below the awning—a valance, in other words. The valance can come in different designs, with some being wavey and others being more rigid. 

There are also different-shaped awnings storefronts can opt for. Some of these designs include circular, waterfall, gable, dome, concave, and bullnose shapes. Either option helps provide a unique architectural element to a storefront.

Furthermore, colourways can also be customised to your liking. 

If you want your storefront fabric structure to have a specific colourway, whether it’s striped or patterned, you can request one when inquiring about a fabric structure installation with Greenline or other fabric installation providers.

One distinguishing aspect of accent awnings is its wall-mounted design. It’s a lightweight frame with fabric covering and doesn’t extend too far from the wall. 

This makes it vulnerable to more extreme weather conditions, like heavy rain and snow. Regardless, as a minimalist and stylish element, it certainly provides acceptable curb appeal to a retail space.

2. Canopy 

A more protective fabric structure your business can opt for is a canopy. A canopy has a rigid construction with a covering attached that serves as both decoration and a form of weather protection.

These architectural additions are excellent for walkways and building entrances. Unlike awnings, a canopy is structurally independent from a wall. It’s structurally supported by at least one post on both ends, helping keep it erect.

If you want your retail business to stand out, setting up a canopy can help you capture customer attention thanks to its added curb design appeal

On top of that, the comfort and weather protection provided by the shaded structure helps incentivise foot traffic to lounge by your storefront, bringing them closer to entering your store and buying your product.

Just like awnings, a canopy can be decorated in any way you like. Providers are happy to customise and print your desired colourway and design theme, whether it’s a striped, pastel colourway or vintage sepia theme. Just ask! 

3. Shade Sails

If you want a good membrane-based shade structure, shade sails are often regarded as a top pick—and for good reason. These fabric structures are highly versatile and can be fitted in a variety of public spaces, from shopping centres to amusement parks.

Shade sails are called as such because they are constructed from the same fabric used in sails that promote airflow. Furthermore, with the right colour scheme, shade sails can also block over 91% of UV radiation. This makes it a perfect tool during hot and breezy weather.

While shade sails are commonly found in public facilities, putting shade sails up in brick-and-mortar stores is also a completely viable option. As long as there’s space for multiple anchor points (whether it’s in a wall, roof, or pole) and you maintain it every 3 months, it can hold out on its own for years after installation.

Furthermore, shade sails can be configured in any way that’s required, adapting to diverse settings like retail courtyards and restaurant patios. They also have a wide coverage area, providing all the benefits of shade to your customers and staff.

4. Cantilever Fabric Structure

In times when you need a canopy but don’t have enough space to install one in your storefront, a cantilever fabric structure is a beautiful structure that can get it done in a pinch.

That said, a cantilever isn’t merely an alternative to the more popular canopy fabric structure. This architectural fabric structure provides a sleek and modern touch to a space. 

More specifically, this particular fabric structure is renowned for its single-foot support beam, leaving the other end having a fabric that extends freely without support. 

The tensile fabric used as the shade also has self-cleaning properties due to its angle and protective properties against falling leaves, rainwater, and UV rays.

The structure of this fabric structure creates a visual overhang that’s not only aesthetic and practical, but also encourages increased mobility and space optimisation. 

For store owners who expect a large crowd of people to enter from one side (or those who simply want to optimise the entryway), a cantilever fabric structure is the perfect option.

5. Conic Fabric Structure

For pavilion and al fresco-type retail stores, especially those with a circular layout, a conic fabric structure is the perfect shade structure to keep your store safe from the outdoor elements.

This type of fabric structure is represented by its volcano-like shape. This design is supported by multiple masts and a membrane tensioned at the structure’s centre-top portion. 

This architectural design helps prevent snow and rain from settling on the top of the fabric, which can cause pressure and load failure.

Unlike the other brick-and-mortar fabric structures, a conic structure can work as a standalone shade for retail and brick-and-mortar stores hosted outside. 

Furthermore, this type of fabric structure is also ideal for temporary outdoor events that need a tent-like shade structure to preserve goods and keep people safe. It’s also customisable in size, shape, and colourway, meaning you can plan a theme around it before receiving it from the store.


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