Editor’s Letter: Plan Now for Holiday Sales Success

Sticks
Santa is a popular figure at Christmas time. This more traditional 14-inch version from Sticks sports hand-drawn imagery.

Who doesn’t love Christmas? Unless you’re still a wide-eyed 4-year-old, however, you know that making any holiday season successful takes a lot of work. According to the galleries we contacted for our “Countdown to Christmas” feature, planning for next year’s holiday starts the very next day after the current one takes place.

In one sense, it’s a lot like planning a wedding: 12 months out, you need to do such and such; six months out, you’re looking at a whole new list of things to contend with; three months out, there’s more to do, but with greater deadline urgency, until the calendar shows it’s the day after Thanksgiving and you’re off! Doors open, customers rush in, cash registers ring.

Plan well and your prime selling season is almost guaranteed to ring in the green, say retailers that writer Karol Menzie talked with in reporting this story. Zig Zag owner Kim Megginson reviews what worked during the holiday season, then builds on that. Sharyn Winer, buyer for two Artcraft galleries in Maryland, does an immediate post-holiday inventory review to plot out how much she’ll buy the following year. Urban Country owner Rachelle Roth believes in thinking ecumenically in firming up her holiday plans, citing the inclusion of a huge menorah—“Twelve feet high, right next to our double doors”—as just one example of how that works.

Stacy Simbrom
A little more out of the ordinary: Stacy Simbrom’s one-of-a-kind Santa, 32 inches high and based on her Hurricane Sandy Storm Chaser series, was created exclusively by the artist for NICHE magazine. CREDIT: MICHAEL SIMBROM

Some galleries mentioned their businesses have been boosted by Small Business Saturday in late November, and all of them agreed that it pays to capitalize on shoppers’ increasing interest in buying local and buying American-made in both print and online advertising for their stores.

And don’t skimp on the extras, they urge. This is the one time of year when excess is not only good, it’s expected. In Asheville, N.C., for instance, shops, street lamps, even merchants turn out in full Victorian-era regalia for Biltmore Village’s annual Dickens Festival in December. And merchants in Columbia, Mo., put both storefronts and gallery staffers to work—in costume and with live performances—during its much-anticipated annual Living Windows Festival.

As for decorations, red, green, silver and gold are the obvious choices, but no matter what color theme you decide on, our retailers say, use lots of it, make it memorable and make it fun.