Getting To Know Copper & Holly - Designing the Shop Displays
Once we close the Christmas shop doors to the public on December 21st, we don’t put our feet up! There’s stocktaking, breakdown on product sales, and a complete analysis of our item categories. What sold well, what didn’t sell at all, and why. The following year we can then get more of the items you loved, at, more importantly, the right price.
Designing the Shop Display - The Ideas
Ideas for the next Christmas shop season starts before this Christmas is over. My trusty book that's always by my side will already contain several different ideas for displays. I'm then ready for shopping at the big Christmas trade fairs in January and February. It’s here that I’ll reﬁne ideas. Look at new items that suppliers have, and consider the stock left over from last year. In 2021 however, there were no trade fairs to look visit! So all of this work was done with catalogues and websites - very boring!
There’s only so many variations you can have on a snowman or a reindeer! So, I’ll often look to put unusual colour combinations together. Working with what’s new on the market, and what's left can create some stunning display ideas. If there was a winning colour combination in the Christmas shop the previous season, we may use that story theme the following year. But by introducing a new colour, we're giving it a twist.
Once ideas are established, we go shopping for items within that colour palette against a carefully prepared list.
The pictures are from our 2020 Collection 'Winter Lake' to demonstrate what I'm talking about!
Designing the Shop Displays - Mood-boarding Like A Designer
Firstly, when we've done the buying for the Christmas shop I make a 'mood-board' of the product characteristics. The mood-board includes textures, colours and ideas based on what I’ve bought for that year's displays. This is a trick I learned whilst training with professional visual merchandisers (people who create large retailers’ window and shop displays).
Designing The Shop Displays - One Vision
Buying and mood boards now complete, I'll come up with Christmas shop display plans. Ideally, mid Spring will see this work completed. This is usually several days daydreaming, browsing Pinterest, and working out how I’m going to display these beautiful new items! Looking for ways that will capture our visitors, and take them on a journey, or share a story. It'll continue by looking for a picture, photograph, painting or pattern that encapsulates what I want to achieve. Quite often this picture will be something as un-Christmas like as a piece of furniture, food or painting! This picture needs to show the story, and gives us the direction for undertaking the display.
Designing the Shop Displays - The Hand Drawn Plan
Once I have my vision, I draw up a very rough plan ready for the construction phase. Gwilym then considers it, and will see if he can turn it into reality for the Christmas shop. He looks at the vision, mood boards, and then we con-ﬂab in the barn together. During this time one afternoon, I'll talk him through my ideas. Measuring up the space ensues, and he will then tell me how it can be achieved. This can be quite a drawn out process. But once we have a deﬁnitive plan he measures, determines materials needed, and schedules the work in between making kitchens and furniture.
Designing the Shop Displays - Timber! The Construction Phase
The construction phase is probably the most exciting in the Christmas shop journey. This is the point that you can see the displays taking shape. But not always how I want! Sometimes the plans change so dramatically that it can feel really disheartening. If at this stage though, I think the displays are awesome, then we know we’re on to a winner. You guys’ll love it too. Retail can be a very wasteful industry in many respects, and we are fortunate that Gwilym is so handy with seeing a different angle in his head. Without fail, he takes what I ask of him, and conjures it up out of our ﬁxtures and ﬁttings from last year. This means our displays are rarely bought in, instead being repurposed, re-used and recycled.
Inspired by nature ourselves, the displays often feature the natural world, and we love using things in unexpected ways. (Remember the burnt Christmas trees from 2019? Or the dead tree that featured in our barn 3 years in a row?)
Designing the Shop Displays - Christmas Products
The big items are all in place, now it’s time for the shelves and hanging spaces. It’s not just a Christmas shop display, we need these beautiful items stacked for you to buy, and we don’t do that on metres of shelves or slat rack! We incorporate our selling space in amongst our Christmas shop displays, which is quite unusual in retail. This does mean that it takes quite a bit more ﬁddling to make sure we’ve got space for everything!
The products that we ordered in January and February for the Christmas shop start arriving from the beginning of September. This really does feel like Christmas day, because although I’m working with the items’ ﬁgures during the year, I've forgotten what they look like! Once they're in, they go onto the epos system (the till system that allows us to scan it in the shop, and you to buy it online),put the product description and images online, price it up and then put into their display area.
Designing The Shop Displays - Displays
The displaying of products is deﬁnitely one of my favourite parts of the job, but this doesn't happen straight away. All of the stock is put together into the respective areas of the Christmas shop that they belong. Once the majority of products are in place, we look at what we have, and make sure that everything is a good ﬁt. It isn’t always. Sometimes the blue is wrong, or there is too much glitter so is not as natural. Maybe the supplier that we ordered from received too few orders to get that product made in the factory, and we’re sent the alternative replacement.
Here is where the swapping happens, but once I’m happy with the products altogether, we're on for proper displaying. This can take several days of work, making sure the stock levels are right, and that the displays are balanced.
Designing The Shop Displays - Finishing Touches
Once I’m happy with the products being in the right area of the display, I can add the ﬁnishing touches. Often I'll ﬁnd that once the products are in place, I’m disappointed with the display. It won't have the ‘magic’ effect that I’m looking for, until I start doing the ﬁnishing touches. The snow, foliage and last minute accessories is what really sets the Christmas shop apart. In business, the owner is the harshest critic, but If I can look at the display, and feel the ‘magic’, my job is done. I know you'll feel the magic too.
So there you have it, an overview of how we design our displays using our 2020 Winter Lake collection as our ‘case study’. With all these hours of thought, work and preparation, it’s easy to see how this has become my full time job!
To read more about Copper & Holly, and the team behind the shop, click here
- Annabelle Summerfield