Businesses’ holiday window eye candy
December 22, 2007
Oh, the joys of window shopping! In a place like Park City, the festivities and decorations never seem to end, especially during the holidays, when even the tiniest shop windows are laden with garland, tinsel and lights.
This year, The Park Record talked to local businesses to see which special decorations or techniques they use to attract window-shoppers to their businesses during the holidays.
Karen Travis, merchandising coordinator for Jans Mountain Outfitters, has been in the window-decorating business for years. As a full-time coordinator for Jans since 2001, Travis works with her two assistants, Cassandra Lein and Bev Wyble, to make Jans Mountain Outfitters’ shops’ windows look divine each season.
Travis’ career started the way most window-decorating experts gain their experience.
"I started out in retail, working for a small company in upstate New York," Travis said. "There was a window dresser and she just could never seem to get the job done and [the window decorations] always needed changing, so I said, ‘I can do that.’ The manager said, ‘Go ahead and try it.’ I got into it and it was just so much fun."
After earning her bachelors degree in fine arts, Travis went on to get her graphic design degree and earned a Masters in illustration.
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As a master of arts and with her background in retail window decorating, after moving to Park City in August of 1999, Jans Mountain Outfitters hired her on as their full-time merchandising coordinator.
Travis said it has been fun to be innovative and spot trends throughout the years to decorate Jans windows.
Travis emphasizes the importance of color-scheming and focal point techniques she learned while studying graphic design.
"One of the things graphic designers emphasize is using only three colors," Travis says. "It simplifies and doesn’t make you go crazy with too much patterning."
Travis said, this year, the popular trend to keep things simple. She said the best window displays are straight-forward, using one central focal point.
"It’s the same thing with shapes," she said. "Keep it simple."
Travis said some effective techniques for highlighting a particular item in a store are using contrasting colors and coordinating lighting.
"Contrast makes colors pop," Travis says. "If you have a black background, use white. If you have a green background, use orange."
She said the right kind of lighting aimed just the right way can make an object stand out more.
"If you want to highlight an item, like skis, you make that the focal point, either with color or lighting," she said. "We have the same lighting, but we can move it around to highlight items."
Travis said, in order to save energy, Jans uses halogen light bulbs that are set on a timer.
This year, Lein and Travis discovered a creative way to use screen-door wiring material as crunched-up ribbon with gold and green balls as a backdrop behind the clothes they display on mannequins.
Last autumn, they used copper sheets as a backdrop to accentuate the fall colors.
Lein worked in art direction for advertising for SAKS Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus in Manhattan. In Dallas, she was a merchandise coordinator for Nieman Marcus. When she moved to Park City, she was raising her kids and took some time off. Two years ago, she was hired to work for Jans Winter Welcome and noticed Travis had a large load to carry as the only merchandise coordinator for the company. Lein is now Jans new merchandise coordinator and Travis works as the interior design merchandise coordinator for Jans stores.
As an experienced window decorator herself, Lein said it’s all about having an open mind or a keen eye for trends of the season and cultivating a creative edge.
"You have to get creative with inexpensive materials," Lien says. "On the Internet, there’s one artist who makes all these lighting fixtures out of used materials. For Sundance, I’m making chandeliers out of paper cups."
Lein and Travis recommend that business owners gather ideas from other businesses’ displays, as well as research the Internet or browse craft stores.
"Go to other [businesses] and see what they’ve done, and modify it in a way [that] fits within [your] budget and timeframe," Lein says. "Just walk the aisles of Home Depot."
Travis says some popular trends for window decorating this season include using big Christmas balls hanging from the ceiling with large ribbons. And she said, while lights are always a popular option for Christmas window designing, it is best to come up with unique designs.
As for owners of smaller businesses around town who are generally new to the artsy, window decorating business, many have confidently taken matters into their own hands.
Jon Allen, owner of J.W. Allen & Sons "Children’s Provisions" Toys and Candy store at Redstone Towne Center, keeps a mountain theme in his store window that he changes seasonally and coordinates with various toys from the store.
"When we built the display, we made a mountain scene for the background," he said. "In the springtime, we have green mountains with snow caps. In the winter, we have snow-covered mountains. I keep [the window] loaded up with toys."
This is the third Christmas J.W. Allen toy store has been open. Allen said, so far, his window decorations have attracted attention from many window shoppers.
"You do see people browsing the window at night, which is good," Allen said.
He thinks all businesses in Park City should come up with some kind of window display, especially during the holidays.
"I think it’s a great thing to do," Allen said. "It would be nice for this area if everyone themed their windows."
Arlynn Muehlmann, owner of Rocky Mountain Baskets and Gifts at Redstone, selected synthetic pine trees and pre-lit Christmas trees, with an array of wooden moose, fake snow, Christmas lights, lanterns and other winter-themed decorations for her window display this year.
Muehlmann said, as a store that carries many home and holiday decorations, her staff incorporates many of the items they sell in the store in the window display in order to attract shoppers.
"We have such a variety of things in the store," she said. "We try to do seasonal windows to bring out fun décor pieces in the store. We’re all about color and variety."
This year, Muehlmann included many of the pre-lit synthetic Christmas trees she carries in the store. Recently, someone walking by the window noticed one of them and purchased it.
"We have a lot of people that come in [after] seeing our [window] displays," she said.
Whatever products or services a business sells, Marlo Shrives from Silver Cricket floral atelier, says there are businesses out there that can help create wonderful window displays if some merchants have a difficult time doing it themselves.
"Call the florist and have them do it," she says.
Silver Cricket, a floral design shop at Kimball Junction, has incorporated interesting floral arrangements with Christmas themes for this year’s window display. One floral arrangement, called a "free design," hangs from the ceiling in the window, with unusual plants, flowers and seasonal objects.
"We try to do interesting and unique arrangements," Shrives said of the floral design shop. "We can decorate people’s homes or interiors. People can walk by and see what we do."
And that’s the key, Travis and Lein remind business owners.
If you want to attract attention to your shop’s products, create a unique window display for passersby to enjoy.
"A display is an amazing way to highlight and sell an item right off the bat," Travis says. "I don’t know how many times I have been in the midst of designing a display and someone has come in and asked to buy it while I’m setting it up."