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Keeping Your Retail Sense (of Humor) During The Holidays

Another holiday comes quickly for retailers

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IN RETAIL, THE HOLIDAY season is something you forget until it rolls around again – and then you remember the hard work, stress and race to the financial finish line.

This year, the signs started at big box stores in late summer, sparking a warm glow in the memory. When the smoke and mirrors of Halloween is over, all bets are off. (My chalkboard already has many Black Friday Sales on it, and we are once again planning for its joyful return.)

Mariah Carey has broken out of her icy storage and the holiday playlist is on full blast. The smell of Christmas is replacing pumpkin spice. Green fir boughs and red berries replace wilting jack-o’-lanterns and fall leaves. The red buckets, sleigh bells, a nativity and a menorah take their places. Shiny baubles show up on every surface, and Santa makes his appearance, along with all the old favorites: Frosty, Elf, Jack Skellington, Rudolph and the Grinch. “Miracle on 34th Street,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and even “Die Hard” all take their place in line – for me, the holy grail was finding the 1945 “Christmas in Connecticut” DVD with Barbara Stanwyck. The joy has already started.

Keeping Your Retail Sense (of Humor) During The Holidays

“Rudolph’s Bachelor Pad” (shown) was an update on a classic tale. “Where is Rudolph now?” is a question that sparks creativity. The tree may be traditional, but the rest is just for fun.

What does Rudolph eat? Moose Crunch snacks and a stack of hay bales. Where does he sleep? A warm bed inthe barn with his trusty lion and favorite storybook about another deer like him. He’s been wrapping gifts under the tree for his teammates along with Santa, mom, dad and his special girl, Clarice – notice the two hot chocolate mugs on the hay bale. All of it tells Rudolph’s new story. You saw it here first! I may have started a pitch for a new holiday classic.

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Yet, this year’s big theme is Barbie and everything pink (as it should be), so Barbie’s dreamhouse and her all-pink fashion need little decoration to be on trend. My pink-themed window has her decked out in styles spanning decades – from MCM to manga and beyond.

Keeping Your Retail Sense (of Humor) During The Holidays

Her mini dress and magenta chunky heels are retro blasts from the past, while the 4-foot square canvas print provides a modern design. A nod to Jimmie Martin’s painted furniture shows up in my first drip-painted bench. (All we need is Cher’s new Christmas album playing in the background!)

This holiday season marks the first anniversary of my window display challenge filling empty storefronts at the Uptown Hot Springs Mall – and the beginning of the Small Town Mall blog. I’m already planning for next year. See you there! Just breathe, smile and keep moving.

PHOTO GALLERY (13 IMAGES)
📷 Photography by Phil Chwalinski

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After working as a catering manager in Arkansas, Florida and California, Phil Chwalinski reinvented himself as a food and wine expert with the help of the Culinary Institute of America Greystone in Napa Valley, Calif. He soon became a full-time caregiver to his mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and 10 years later, Phil made the move back into retail. Holding a BFA in Design from the Memphis College of Art, Phil has worked as a landscape designer, picture framer, florist – and now, he designs window displays for his local, small town mall.

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