For most retailers and designers it’s definitely looking a lot like Christmas.
How can buyers make the most of seasonal décor? We asked the decorators extraordinaire at Studio M — Executive Vice President and General Manager Tammy Hickel, Senior Director of Product Development Anne Brown and Marketing Coordinator Maura Lodes — for their tips for making the season and the upcoming Market merry and bright.
What trend are you most excited about for Holiday 2016?
Holiday décor for 2016 features lots of black, white and red color schemes and has a classic, homespun feel that we just love. Popular nubby knits, burlap and muslin give a warm, relaxed feel that’s perfect for the holidays. The red-and-white ticking stripe and large-scale buffalo check seen throughout this year’s holiday décor provide a nice pop of pattern. We’re really excited about all of the natural elements like birch, pinecones and antlers that are being woven into holiday décor for 2016. These characteristics can be seen throughout Nordic, woodland and forest themes that are very trendy this winter.
What are your tips for customers decorating their homes?
Our advice is to create something unexpected. The holidays are all about that sense of wonderment and joy, and your décor can reflect that. Decorate in unexpected places — put a small Christmas tree in your child’s room, add a fun holiday pillow to the bed in your guest room, or brighten up the space above your kitchen cabinets with Christmas decorations. Think of the areas in your house that you may not always pay attention to, and add a little something there for the holidays.
For outdoor holiday decorating, think of ways to create a welcoming front door statement that reflects your personality and is seasonally relevant. Many people are looking for outdoor décor to accomplish this goal, and that’s a huge reason why we’ve expanded our seasonal flag collections to include Art Planters, Art Poles and other outdoor décor. We encourage people to think beyond just lights and candy canes. There are so many unique ways to decorate — festive Art Planters and a coordinating MatMate at the front door, a holiday terrarium full of colorful mini garden items as a centerpiece — think outside the box!
What are your tips for retailers decorating their stores?
Creative merchandising is key to generating sales. Shoppers can’t resist stopping to “ooh” and “ahh” at a clever display. Welcoming seasonal décor and an attractive display in a window will draw people in, giving them an opportunity to see everything your store has to offer. That doesn’t mean you have to spend big bucks on extra holiday decorations — use as much product as possible to decorate your store. For example, use monogram garden flags to spell out a festive message like “Let it snow” or “Ho Ho Ho.” This way, your store showcases its own merchandise and helps to decorate it at the same time!
Another great way to approach a display is to use your products to tell a color story. Pull everyday red or green products into a Christmas display — they’ll fit right in and feel more like a holiday item when surrounded by seasonal products. Don’t underestimate the power of a little holiday ribbon to turn everyday items into Christmas gifts.
Special Tip: Many plain red and green items can move forward into Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day displays, giving those products a longer life.
We also advise retailers to make shopping as easy as possible for their customers. Create pre-wrapped gifts-to-go for different recipients – mom, dad, friend, hostess, etc. Think about all the unique items you have in your store and turn them into containers to hold additional product. We find that our 6-inch Art Pots are great to fill with holiday gourmet treats or unique personal care items. Not only are gifts-to-go convenient for shoppers, they’re also a great way to increase the average sale for the retailer. Set some by the register or checkout area for those last-minute impulse buys.
Special Tip: Another great way to increase sales and help shoppers find great gifts is to create a “Staff Favorite” or “Item of the Week” that can be promoted and suggested by staff.
What trends do you see emerging for Holiday 2017?
Next year’s holiday trends will be somewhat of a derivative of 2016, but with lots of white-on-white and green-and-white color schemes. Textural elements will prevail and homespun, cozy-cabin themes will expand, but in a cleaner, more refined way — kind of a mid-century-modern-meets-cabin look. We’ll see more woodland animal elements like antlers and snowy owls as the wise, nocturnal birds continue to be a strong trend.
The shop local movement will continue to have a large influence on trends for 2017. City and state pride will remain a popular theme in both décor and gift items, as communities’ support for independent retailers grows. We don’t want to give too much away, but retailers can expect to see some state-themed products from Studio M at summer markets in 2017!
The farm-to-table movement is picking up steam and the desire to grow food at home is increasing. As more people spend time in their outdoor spaces and learn about gardening, gifts for gardeners will become a big part of the holidays for 2017. These can range from decorative gifts such as mini garden items or a festive Art Planter to functional products like a birdhouse or birdbath.
What are your Market shopping tips?
Our biggest tip for retailers is to come to market with a Buying Plan. Take stock of all your current inventory and future needs. Then determine your budget by deciding how much product you need to buy to reach your target sales volume for the season. Identify every product category that you need in order to drive business in your store, and then allocate dollars to each area. This will ensure that you are purchasing the right mix of products for your store and save you from buying too much of one category and too little of another. Make sure to hold back some reserve dollars for hot new items or product categories you find at market that weren’t in your plan. Your Buying Plan will be a huge help in figuring out when you’ve purchased enough of each category and make it easy to see what areas still need to be filled in.
Special Tip: Ask vendors if they have any best-seller lists that they can show you. While best sellers do not work in every region or store, they can be a good place to start!
Do some research before market and decide which vendors you’d like to visit. Look through trade publications and the Market Magazine to see what catches your eye and make a list of vendors you can’t miss. Once you have your list, map out a schedule of when to visit each showroom. Don’t forget to leave time to look for new items or to stop by vendors that weren’t on your initial list. When making your schedule, plan to get your essential items first. There will be lots to see and you don’t want to get distracted by too many new products and leave market without ordering the necessities.
Special Tip: Take advantage of showrooms like OneCoast that open early in the morning and close late in the evening. This way, you can visit more vendors per day.
Another thing many retailers find very helpful is working with their local rep whenever possible. Reps know the product well and are a great source of information. They can tell you what has been selling well in your area and help you make better-informed purchasing decision to help round out your offering. They also may be aware of special incentives being offered on products.
Special Tip: Schedule your showroom visits by floor so you don’t waste any time waiting for the elevator in order to go up and down the building throughout the day.
You’re going to see some amazing merchandising ideas and unique ways to display product as you make your way through the mart. Bring a camera to photograph anything that inspires you or that you may want to replicate in your store. Not every vendor allows photos to be taken, so make sure to ask permission first. At Studio M, we love when retailers take photographs! While flattering, it is one of the biggest reasons we spend so much time planning out and creating our displays, We want retailers to get inspired and take ideas home that will help them be more successful.
We hope these tips ensure that you have a smooth and successful market! Stop by and see Studio M at our main showroom in The Gardens (9-B-84, Bldg. 2) or in the OneCoast showroom on the 18th floor of Building 2.
In addition to our five floors of Holiday and Floral merchandise in Building 1, retailers and designers can also find holiday merchandise in The Gardens®. Shop the collection at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, January 10 – 17, 2017, and use our Market Plan to create your budget and plan your visit.
Images courtesy of Studio M.