It Takes A Village...

I've seen countless retailers create massive village scenes with their Department 56 collectible houses... setups that span a surface the size of a pingpong table or more. And as charming and awe-inspiring as that is, it's not really the best way to inspire customres to buy more. There is a difference in showing the whole collection and in showing how to display it in a home. I don't know too many people who can spare a space or table the size of a pingpong table for the whole season...do you?!

I advocate showing people what to do with their collections. In the case of Department 56, separating it into segments is easy for anyone to do - in a retail display, or in a home.
Every year, my decorating crew and I create the holiday decor in the residence of a Microsoft Executive. The collection of Department 56 buildings is staggering, but it is made charming and inviting by separating it into two parts, and placing it in several places within the formal living room and kitchen. The first part is the old fashioned villages - Dickens, Edwardian, Victorian, etc. You can see a table behind the sofa and two bookshelves beside the fireplace that are filled with the houses set into small vignette scenes.

By using unique props with the villages, it becomes a personal expression. Beautiful wood boxes serve as bases for some of the houses, and the collection of churches sit on old family Bibles. Appropriate! The props also provide variances in levels within the display, making it much more interesting than just a flat row of houses.

Having the pieces that light up the most (conservatories, observatories, etc.) on lower shelves is twofold: the light from them brightens up this dark area, and the triple-shelf arrangement really adds sparkle to the room by bringing interest all the way to the floor.

On top of another bureau, snow-covered boxes lift a few houses up and provide the feeling of perspective. It doesn't take mountains of snow, either - just a little bit covers the boxes and lends a mood.
In the kitchen, we group all of the 'childlike' buildings...

They are shown here near the window. Santa, Rudolph, and loads of candy-themed buildings bring whimsy to the room... appropriate, because candy relates to the kitchen!

I filled some giant vases with red resin beaded garland, topped them with glass platters, and then started stacking the Department 56 houses all over. (This is a bad photo, sorry!) There are also nutcrackers (about ten from her collection of 200!) that have food themes to them, so they are included here.

My client's family can enjoy the collection in several places this way, and it never feels like it's so huge that it's out of control. (Well, except when my crew and I are boxing it all back up and trying to fit it into storage bins!) In a store, you can do the same thing. Show customers how to use these kinds of collectibles in small spaces for those who live in small homes, or with just a few pieces for those who are on a budget. You'll sell more by inspiring long-time collectors to do something new with their village scenes, and new ones to begin!

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