Have 'Leftovers' for Valentine's Day!


Restyling old products to create a new look - taking something and making it look totally different by combining it with something else, using a different color to set it off, etc. - is something I really enjoy. And it's an effective way to lengthen the 'shelf life' of merchandise instead of just putting it on clearance. Keep those profit margins UP, that's the goal.

Along those lines, back when I was styling displays for the Columbia Winery gift shop in Woodinville Washington, I had some grand plans for Christmas 'leftovers' (...not of the edible kind, mind you!) that I was going to incorporate into a Valentine display. Well, you know how it goes - in display as in life, the best-laid plans go astray: Several of the items I wanted to use sold on clearance, others were packed up for use next year. So I took what was left and combined it with a few items that are Valentine-specific, and built up this small display.

I DID get to use the red table and red pottery that I mentioned before, plus leftover white & red linens and some of the silk flowers that we keep in the retail stash just to add a flourish to displays. To that, I added the Reidel glasses in boxes with red hearts, heart-shaped red fondue pots, and some chocolate fudge sauce & bing cherry sauce. I also nabbed the last six regular fondue pots from the 'kitchen' area in the shop, and tucked them into the display. Crystal votive candles and bud vases and bottle stoppers (with hearts, natch) and Cabernet Sauvignon wine finish it off. Something in every price point, really, and if you wanted to have a blow-out V Day evening, everything you need is right there in one display. (Ummmm...except someone to share it with! And even if you are currently single, don't despair - there's always Hugh Jackman on DVD!)


The rest of the red pottery and all of the white ceramic trays, casseroles, bowls, etc. that I was planning to incorporate into the Valentine display went into THIS one. There was simply just toooooo much for one display, plus Lisa bought the fun Rooster ceramics & figures, and I wanted to make them a focal point. (Lisa, the buyer at Columbia, has a 'thing' for birds. Any bird, really. And pigs, too. It's like a farm around the shop sometimes!!! But they are always funny...and they SELL, which is the point! So I guess she isn't the ONLY one with a bird 'thing'....) 

In the background of the display you can see a birch tree. O yeah, it's a whole TREE, right there inside the winery retail shop! I sweet-talked the man at the storage facility out of it when I saw the storm had blown it over. He thinks I'm nuts, I think I'm thrifty and eco-friendly for giving the tree another shot at usefulness! It will remain here year-round, as a great prop to hang things from and a perfect visual draw to the rear corner of the shop. How does that work, you ask? It's huge, it takes people by surprise, and have to come over and check it out...that means they get close to the display, see the products, and....voila. Objective acheived.



This is a 'money shot' from the display in the very front of the shop. 
It features the new label on the wine and a few of the more sculptural pieces of the Vietri pottery, along with gorgeous brown linens and some whimsical dotted glassware. It's a perfect mix for this 'bridge' season of late winter - early spring. Simple, contemporary, classic, and interesting merchandise is what we focus on here...as well as the WINE, of course!


I love this area & love coming up with seasonal themes for it - it's the first thing you see when you walk into the winery. Because of the location and the logo tile wall, it is dramatic, so I go with large scale accents like the huge mossy branches and rusty planters. Merchandise is always in warm, earthy tones to coordinate with the wall tile colors, and wine is prominent. This area serves as a statement of who Columbia IS and what they offer their customer - branding 101.

I was short my regular assistant for this reset, as Karen went to Atlanta for the Gift Show! Lucky girl was sent by Molbaks, for whom she designs retail displays. (That's where we met all those years ago...at Molbaks doing displays, not Atlanta!) so I called in my OTHER fave assistant, my daughter Anni. I really love working with her...she just knows how things need to be paced: what comes first, how to build up, light/viewing angles/composition - all those artsy things, because she's an artist (and FAB writer) with an innate sense of spatial awareness that really lends itself to great ideas. Case in point, photo below:



More Vietri from the front display, this time a cake pedestal. 
Anni took one look at it and said "It needs a cake!" A few stacked nested baskets and napkins later, this confection appeared. Tied with ribbon and sporting a ceramic bell as a flourish, it looks every inch like it migrated here from the wedding show last weekend! A perfect finishing touch.

This post originally appeared here on my blog in January 2007.

Re-Style Unsold 'Holiday' Merch for Winter Profits

So, your Holiday merchandise didn't sell like you thought it would.
No problem. No, really.... there's still hope for some of it. 

(And no, I don't mean mark it all 90 percent off!)
Let's salvage all that we can and turn it into winter displays!

for example, those ornaments above.....
silver, with red felt dots. Some others in the collection say 'Love'.

So they didn't sell....well, then let's make lemons into lemonade
and create a big red Valentine's day display!
Those ornaments could be heaped into a huge heart-shaped box,
made to look like bon bons.

continue reading for more ideas and examples of re-styled merch
that transitions from holiday to winter - and makes more profit for you!

Plan NOW for Holiday Season Success!

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I know, it's October... but I'm going there.
Are there boxes of Christmas merchandise stacked and waiting for floor space?
Most of you are saying yes right about now.

Relax - you've done the easy part. But you're not done yet!

Because the hard part is that you need to have a plan ready
for how, where, when, and why those boxes of product will make it to the sales floor.
And you need that plan NOW, my friends.
Before you pull an all-nighter to set it up. Before you leave a list of 'to do's' with the staff.
Before you have the invites for your big holiday decor unveiling event printed.
(You ARE having a big unveiling event, aren't you?) Before your ads hit the media.

Retailers count on the holiday season for a large percentage of their annual income,
and it makes sense to plan for it. 
But far too many businesses just roll the stuff out on carts and start stuffing it into displays. 

Don't sabotage yourselves! 
With a bit of planning, you can reap all of the benefits of a successful Holiday season.

continue reading for my top tips for planning your holiday displays...

Vintage Fall Display Inspiration

from 2012 to 2017, i worked with and for Rita Reade,
the proprietor of the creative vintage business Mammabellarte 
and co-founder, along with her sister-in-love, artist Christie Repasy, 
of The Vintage Marketplace vintage show in Southern California.

Rita hired me as her visual designer and stylist
to style all of her beautiful creations into an inspiring booth setting for each show,
as well as doing the same for the entrance to the show as a photo backdrop.

this post originally appeared on my diy home decor blog.
i'm re-sharing it here, as many of the techniques & tips used here
are just in time for vendors doing fall shows, as well as fall store window displays.


continue reading for all of the usable details...

Back To School Windows

The calendar (and the weather!) may still be saying 'summer', 
but fall is on the way....
bringing hordes of 'back to school' shoppers out of the pool and into stores.
It's time to catch their eye with some FUN window displays!

At the resale store where I created visuals with a dynamo named Debby, 
we created two distinct stories in the two front windows:
One geared toward kids, and the other toward teens.

continue reading to see the details and learn why they work...