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Tammy Hollingshead, store manager, Always Christmas & Inspirations Bookstore, Hiawassee, Ga. “About three years ago, burnt orange and aqua were trendy colors, and they flopped. The orange and aqua were so popular we had a tough time finding red and green,” Hollinghead said.
By Donna Cavanagh
ven in the heat of the summer, the holiday spirit thrives in Christmas stores. Store managers and buyers use color and creative displays to bring the joy of Christmas to life for customers.

At Always Christmas & Inspirations Bookstore in Hiawassee, Ga., store Manager Tammy Hollingshead sees how important the traditions of Christmas are to her customers. The 4,000-square-foot store, which is located in the mountains, offers merchandise for both tourists and local residents.

“Many of our customers are tourists, and they tend to want Christmas merchandise that reminds them of their visit here,” Hollingshead explained. “We do a lot of rustic theme merchandise such as black bears, fishing and golfing, but the merchandise that is always popular are the items that are red, green and gold and the traditional holiday figures such as elves.”

Hollingshead has witnessed trendy colors in some Christmas merchandise, but the trendy colors never caught on in Always Christmas.

“About three years ago, burnt orange and aqua were trendy colors, and they flopped. The orange and aqua were so popular we had a tough time finding red and green. We had to bring in the traditional colors piecemeal and incorporate them into our merchandise and displays. Last year, the trend was toward the bright colors – the pinks and yellows and those did okay for us. We did a few trees with these colors, and the merchandise that didn’t do great, we pulled and re-marketed them with an ocean theme and then they did fine. For us, there is nothing like the traditional colors. They are always the favorite.”

With displays such as the one shown, it is easy to get in the holiday spirit year-round at Christmas in Prescott. The shop’s owners stock both traditional and trendy merchandise so there is always a selection for everyone.

Hollingshead believes that creative displays can set the tone for the store. She does incorporate color themes into store displays. This year she will have a vineyard or wine theme display with burgundy, green and some purple.

“It will have a Tuscany feel to it. We will have trees and tables with ornaments and wine stoppers and glasses. It will be beautiful and it will attract a lot of customers.”

However, the focal point display for the store will reflect the traditional colors. The main display will be a 12-foot tree adorned in red and green. Illuminated gift boxes will be under and on the tree as will elf figurines and ornaments.

“You can’t have a Christmas store without lots of elves. They are a must.”

Christmas in Prescott in Prescott, Ariz., is a family run business. The 1,500-square-foot store was the dream of Donna and Ed Albus who at age 64 and 69 decided to open their Christmas store. The store opened in 2004 and three years later went online as well.

“The traditional colors are always very popular with our customers,” said Donna Albus. “The reds, greens and golds do well. We do see many trendy colors each year and the latest was the pastel colors of pink, purple – they did not do as well for us. However, we did put our elves into pastels and customers did like them. We try to mix some trendy merchandise in so we have a little something for everyone.”

Albus’ success comes from the many repeat customers who come into the store and shop online. She and her family change the store around each season so everything looks new. They analyze shelving and display locations to ensure that all merchandise is visible and within easy reach.

“We create new displays with both traditional and trendier colors. We move merchandise from one part of the store to another. Often repeat customers do not notice all the merchandise so relocating items throughout the store might get them more attention.”

According to Albus, the customers who come into a Christmas store want to breathe in that holiday euphoria no matter what time of year it is.

Thoughtfully arranged shelves at Christmas in Prescott. The owners change the store around each season, and analyze shelving and display locations so merchandise is visible and within easy reach.

“This store is a dream come true for me and my entire family. It is a happy place. Everyone who comes in here wears a smile by the time they leave.”

As owner of Christmas by the Cove in Pacifica, Calif., Leo DeLucchi offers merchandise for all holidays to both local residents and tourists.

“It’s a nice business to own,” DeLucchi noted. “We cover all the holidays but there is always some Christmas to be found. The atmosphere in here makes people happy and relaxed. Since we are right on the Pacific, I try to have merchandise that reflects the ocean, animals and nautical themes.”

DeLucchi prefers to use in his displays in his 1,000-square-foot store the traditional Christmas colors of red, green, gold, silver and blue.

“I love to use animals in my displays. I have lots of colors. My focal point display is a big bubble tree in the front of the store. I use a lot of color and it truly gets a lot of oohs and ahs when customers come in.”

Another family run holiday store is Traditions, a 15,000-square-foot store in Canoga Park, Calif. Open for 19 years, the store, which also offers merchandise online, is owned by Debi Thomas, her husband, parents and nephew.

“This store is a wonderful place to be. We love it and so do our customers. It's fun to browse and shop here,” Thomas said. “We cover all the holidays and depending what holiday is coming up that is the main display, but you can always find Christmas decorations in this store all year long.”

Although trendy colors have come and gone, her customers have always gravitated toward the reds and greens and other traditional colors.

“There was that year where they wanted us to sell brown, orange and turquoise – that was not good. These are not Christmas colors. We have noticed that the cream colors have become a staple for Christmas and that is okay especially with the vintage ornaments and merchandise.”

At traditions, Thomas sets up tree displays to show off merchandise. She usually displays a glass ornament tree as well as a sea theme tree, a Nutcracker tree and also a gold and silver tree.

“This year, we have a fun display going up,” Thomas noted. “We like to have displays that represent everyday life for our customers, so we have a travel tree. It is decorated with maps and it is placed on an old steamer trunk. It will get a lot of attention.”

As owner of Seaside Country Store in Fenwick Island, Del., Amy Vickus decorates her store for Christmas with a combination of traditional colors and ocean colors.

“We mix and match our Christmas merchandise because of our ocean location. We do have a lot of merchandise with red and green and a good amount with non-traditional colors,” she explained. “We do have fun with the nautical themes, and we put up four to five display trees and some are decorated with sandals, and crabs and most of the decorations are in beach or summer colors. Then we have traditional trees as well.”

Vickus noted that with her location in a seaside community, she gets both tourists and local residents.

Those who are here on vacation do like to take home the nautical or ocean-themed Christmas decorations. It is a reminder of their vacation. The local residents tend to stay with more traditional merchandise.

Along with the trees, Vickus displays elves wearing both traditional and non-traditional colors throughout the store plus the Buyers Choice Carolers who are dressed in a variety of colors.

“I try to have something for everyone here. Our customers really enjoy the Christmas and holiday merchandise whether it's traditional or trendy. The holiday merchandise just makes everyone smile.”

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