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.

...continue reading for some of my top tips for 're-using' and re-theming merch!
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.


  1. I can see right now that I will use this display idea at my next bridal shower. I love that cake. And it is a way to use that collections of cake plates that I keep adding to.

    Hope you don't mind if I use this one.

  2. Maggie, why no I don't mind a bit! My blog is all about sharing ideas, inspiration, & resources - so please feel free to take it and run with it!! (And do send me a photo or link to your blog when you create yours, so I can see it!!!)Thank you so much for visiting...

  3. Mom I love helping you, its always fun working with you and getting paid makes it even better. And yes I have learned by watching and listening to you. :)
    love you
    love Anni

  4. Deb,

    I'm loving that display!