What are Stanchions? Stanchion Definitions & Types of Stanchions

What are Stanchions? Stanchion Definitions & Types of Stanchions
Retractable Belt Barrier

Stanchion Definitions & Types of Stanchions

Wondering what a "stanchion" is? Simply put, it's the genius little invention which allows business owners to guide the flow of foot traffic without changing the actual infrastructure of their building. Next time you're standing in line at the airport, museum, amusement park, or waiting to check-out at the pharmacy, take note if you're standing in a line made with retractable belt barrier stanchions.

These stanchions are so common because business owners have noticed that organizing crowds can actually increase sales. Studies show that a lack of stanchions and stanchion-created queues can decrease sales by up to 60%. Why? Because a confused customer is a customer, who decides not to make a purchase.

Here at Crowd Control Warehouse, we get calls every day from business owners who know that purchasing stanchions would improve their business but aren’t sure which types of stanchions their business needs.


In this post we'll cover:

1. What is a stanchion?
2. Why your business needs stanchions
3. What are the four basic types of stanchions?


What are stanchions?

A stanchion is defined as a sturdy upright fixture that provides support for some other object. It can be a permanent feature, such as a wall mounted retractable barrier, or freestanding, such as a classic stanchion post and rope.

Stanchions guide customers and patrons, telling them where to queue and not to queue in check-out and ticket lines. During the holiday sale season and at large arenas or stadiums, stanchions also serve as critical safety devices because they keep customers organized in an orderly, efficient way that decreases the likelihood of crowd surges or crushes.

Do I need stanchions?

If you run a brick and mortar business, the answer to this question is almost always yes.

Stanchions improve the customer experience by creating a sense of order and calm, increasing customer flow, and offering merchandising opportunities.

Customers waiting in line can either, 1) scroll on their phones or, 2) consider purchasing one of the ‘add-on’ items you’ve laid out along your queues. Studies show that merchandised items in a queue can provide a 35 - 50% increase in sales.

For advice on how to layout your stanchion queue and set up merchandising panels, read our posts on How to Form a Line and How to Set Up Merchandising Panels.


The Four Basic Types of Stanchions

Retractable Belt Barrier Stanchion Post

1) Retractable Belt Stanchions & Barriers

According to the experts (us), the top dog of the stanchion world is the Retractable Belt Barrier Stanchion.

Retractable belt barriers, both the wall-mounted and free-standing stanchion varieties, are designed to be flexible and handle many different types of crowds. They can be customized with your brand’s logo or message, come in a variety of finishes and colors, and adjust to fit almost any sized area.

Moreover, retractable belt barriers are durable, hold up to a high volume of foot traffic, are offered in permanent wall-fixed models or standing options, and have replaceable parts that save your business money. Instead of replacing the entire stanchion when it breaks, you can replace only the broken piece.

Retractable belt barrier stanchions use an internal spring mechanism to release and retract a nylon belt that stores itself in a canister attached to the post or wall-piece.

*Something to keep in mind when you’re purchasing retractable belt barrier online: domestically built retractable belt barrier stanchions are required by law to have built-in safety mechanisms that slow down the nylon belt when it’s retracting, rather than whipping around at high speed. Internationally made retractable belt barriers often aren’t required to have this same feature, and can lead to accidents or injuries.


Flat Top Stanchion with Sloped Base

2) Post and Rope Stanchions (AKA Classic Metal Posts)

If you’ve ever watched coverage of a red carpet event or been to an art museum, you’ve probably encountered a Post and Rope Stanchion.

Post and rope stanchions look exactly as their name implies: they have a stanchion (post) with a rope attached to it. When several posts are strung together with ropes, they create a crowd control barrier.

Typically, these posts sit on a heavy circular base that stabilizes the stanchion and feature a metal ring near the top - either snap-ended or just a hook - for attaching ropes.

Depending on your business, there are multiple different styles of post and rope stanchion to choose from. Classic stanchion posts come in metal finishes (silver, brass, gold, or chrome), and offer a number of top styles, including urn, ball, flat tops, or a top that leaves space for a sign frame.

Classic stanchion post ropes also come in a variety of materials. Naugahyde, velvet, or twisted polypropylene.

If you’re aiming for a traditional, classy look, a chrome finished stanchion with a ball top, and red velvet ropes will give your business an old-time-Hollywood appeal.


Light Duty Plastic Stanchion Posts and Chain Kit

3) Plastic Stanchions for Ropes or Chains

Plastic stanchions are a great option for businesses on a tight budget or that are looking for a weather-friendly option. This type of stanchion post is almost identical to classic stanchion posts with a couple of key exceptions.

First, rather than a ring at the top, plastic stanchion posts have a C-hook on both sides to allow for attaching plastic chains. As their name implies, plastic stanchion posts are made of plastic rather than metal, making them lightweight and immune to most types of weather damage. Additionally, plastic stanchion posts can be weighted with sand, gravel, or water for added stability.

Because they’re so durable, plastic stanchion posts and chains are great options for outdoor venues like parking lots, amusement parks, street festivals, or trade shows.


Safety Belt Barrier Stanchion

4) Safety Stanchions

Retractable belt barrier stanchions and plastic rope and chain stanchions are used as industrial safety barriers. Both types of stanchion restrict access around construction zones, maintenance areas, warehouses, factories, and other dangerous work areas.

Safety stanchions are usually seen in bright safety colors, like orange or yellow, and often come with attachments for safety signs, warning passersby of the danger in the area.


Want to learn more about stanchions? Read our posts on Forming a Line and Crowd Control Basics for Retail Businesses.

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