Party at Their Place

Creating the destination for holiday and seasonal décor in North Carolina.
By Chris Gigley

The celebration never ends at Seasons at the Lake, a seasonal home décor store in Davidson, N.C., near Charlotte. Despite being open for less than two years, owners Gary Skaggs and Frank Schuster have created a strong demand for holiday décor that extends far beyond the Christmas season.

Demand is so strong that one season barely ends before customers are shopping for the next one. Skaggs says it all starts with buying décor and accessories their customers want, and sourcing it takes work. Their buying odysseys begin on the floral floors. “Floral drives our approach for everything from style, color and mood to the spirit of the particular season,” says Skaggs. “It gives us the inspiration we use to take to the rest of the shopping we do.”

And they go everywhere—literally. “Even if we think a floor is not for us, so many times we find a new vendor or something that will round out what we’re doing,” says Skaggs. “Being thorough is key because every market is different. Even if I come to a small market in March, I’ll spend the time going to a floor where I don’t think there’s anything I need because I might be inspired or find that one thing that makes the market exciting.”

Make a List – Check it Twice
With so many holidays to consider, they follow a strategy. Skaggs keeps a list of must-have items and vendors they don’t want to miss. He also keeps a list of the holidays he wants to build on for the coming year.

“The pre-market organizing is just as important to me as the show,” Skaggs says. “It’s important for me to sit down with my calendar and look at the history from last season and decide what worked and what didn’t. All that goes into my pre-show prep; otherwise, I’d be wandering aimlessly through a huge market.”

Pretty Packaging
After finding the right products, Skaggs says merchandising is easy. He focuses on the holiday with a strong color story and continues to pull together merchandise in cross-merchandised displays.

“We always like to include something in each display that’s a surprise, something people wouldn’t think about,” he says.

For the spring season and holidays, Skaggs created a display of women’s clothing on a series of round tables, but with an assortment of tulips—the surprise—bursting from the top of the display. A number of customers bought scarves, looked up to see the tulips and bought them, too.

Homes for the Holidays
Customers are so enthralled with the merchandising at Seasons at the Lake that the store has started offering home decorating services.

“It just snowballed from one Christmas to the next,” says Skaggs. “Even during other seasons people come in and ask us to do the entrance of their homes. We’ll do a custom wreath for the front door, put floral arrangements in urns and create an entrance scape for them.”

Who could blame them for wanting the Seasons touch? Skaggs and Schuster have captured that festive feeling in their store year round. Now customers want it for their homes, too.

Gary Skaggs and Frank Schuster own Seasons at the Lake in Davidson, N.C. For more information, call 704.655.2533 or visit Images courtesy of Davis Turner Photography.

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