Entering (and winning) a citywide contest earned a local flower shop community cred — while providing killer visual merchandising and a prize to boot. Napanee Blooms, which opened in Napanee, Ontario, last winter, recently joined about 15 other businesses in a fun fall tradition, the town’s annual scarecrow window decorating contest.
“It’s important for any business to get involved in their community,” said owner Shelly Murphy. “Anytime we see something, we become a part of it. When people see that you’re involved in the community, they see you’re fun and active.”
Murphy and her colleagues Sheri Larson and Liz Mayhew took the competition very seriously, searching for design inspiration online after business hours. Ultimately, they settled on a feminine scarecrow, which they named Willow. They wrapped a mannequin form with burlap, dressed her in tulle, fashioned a face out of hydrangea blooms and added arms made from curly willow. The scarecrow was the focal point; adjacent windows featured complementary fall-themed vignettes.
The shop’s design skills wowed judges. The first prize winners walked away with bragging rights and $200 credit to be used for advertising. An ancillary perk was ending up with a mesmerizing window to entice shoppers right before the start of the year’s busiest shopping season.
“I’m a big believer that your window is your business card,” Murphy said. “I want people to come in and trust our creativity. If they are impressed by the window, they will be confident and trusting of us.”
Inspired to revamp your front window? Here are some of Murphy’s tips:
- Incorporate fresh products. Murphy sees the most foot traffic when her displays include fresh, green products. She juxtaposes fresh flowers and foliage with a silk tree that has adaptable branches she can alter to match the aesthetic of changing seasons.
- Experiment with lighting. Along with Napanee’s overhead lighting, Murphy also features standing lights that give off a warm and inviting “street lamp” feel. “We have crystal shades, and the lighting reflects nicely,” she said.
- Go big or go home. Minimalism is a popular trend, but it doesn’t work well in catching passers’ eyes. Murphy finds that large pieces show up better in window displays and attract the most attention. Bring in repurposed shutters, chunkier furniture, ladders, and lamps to tie your window together and draw people to different points of contact.
Mackenzie Nichols is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.