Store decorations should make a big statement

By Carlie Kollath | NEMS Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – Ruth’s Warehouse in Aberdeen didn’t have a budget for decorating the store for Christmas when it opened 12 years ago.
But Ruth Carter and her daughter, Cindy Winders, wanted to get their downtown shop into the spirit.
So, Winders took a stroll into the woods. She found branches and other winter-themed items. She spray-painted them and stuck them in display trees in the store.
“You have to start with what you have, and make the most of it,” Winders said.
A retailer’s holiday decorations are one of the ways that stores help capture their share of the $465.6 billion that shoppers are forecasted to spend this season, according to the National Retail Federation. For many stores, November and December are their busiest months.
Now, holiday decor practically explodes out of Ruth’s, starting with swags on the front doors to items hanging from the ceiling. Granted, Ruth’s sells Christmas decor, but Carter and Winders still have to display the merchandise.
Carter, Winders and William Neal made the displays in the store. They save money by wrapping garland in lights themselves, instead of buying them pre-lit. One display uses old windows that have been hung in front of a tree that shoots out fake pellets of snow.
According to multiple retailers, the key to decorating your store is to think big.
A wreath on the front door needs to be at least double the size of a residential wreath. Your window displays need to be huge. Go overboard, retailers said.
“You want folks to see what you’ve got,” Winders said. “You want to entice people into your store. You want them to say, ‘Gosh, I’ve got to go in there and see what they’ve got.’”
Amory Flowers and Gifts decorates on a grand scale. The windows are filled with larger-than-life Santas, reindeer and other figurines. There’s at least one Christmas tree in every room.
Everything from the front porch to the bathroom is decorated. Co-owner Jere Dukes saves money on decorations by using everyday items. For example, she made bows out of metallic and holiday print bubble wrap. The bows are tied to the outside of the store, along with being hung from the ceiling.
Tracy Proctor, a professional designer who does holiday decorations for MLM Clothiers, Elizabeth Clair’s and Mid-South Nursery, also relies on common materials to help control costs.
His recent displays have incorporated metal grids used in construction. He secures them in a display and then fills them with wood, greenery and holiday plants. It’s a relatively easy idea for retailers to copy, he said.
Along with the front door, windows and cash register, the ceiling is important to decorate. Ruth’s Warehouse and Amory Flowers both took their regular light fixtures and added ribbons, garland, balls and other holiday glam. Oxford Floral Co. has strung lights in one of its rooms with a red ceiling, giving it the appearance of a magical carousel.
Duke also said retailers can save money by using holiday merchandise as decorations. The merchandise usually is in holiday colors, so it will fill space.
“We have all of our everyday stuff worked in” with the help of mesh bows, swags and winter berries that are draped on shelves, she said.
Retailers also should expect customers to ask about buying items, including wreaths on the front door. Some stores choose not to sell everything, but at Ruth’s, everything is for sale.
“We want it butt-naked in here,” Carter said.
Plus, retailers need to remember to appeal to their customers’ sense of smell. The store needs to smell like Christmas, Duke said, with her preference being cinnamon apple candles.
And when it doubt, add glitter, Winders said.
“You need a big statement for Christmas,” she said.
carlie.kollath@journalinc.com