Talking Tables took visual merchandising expert Debbie Flowerday to the Whitstable family store to dress the windows and offer some practical tips for building an eye-catching display.
Situated just a couple of hundred yards from Whitstable beach, George’s enjoys a mix of local and tourist custom and was doing brisk trade on the Monday we visited. Cards are a mainstay for the business but the store also stocks a huge array of tempting gifts, including a mix of Talking Tables games and paper tableware and decorations.
With six windows, owner Lucy Eason was pleased that our agents Ellie and Paul at Marlow Five O had put the store forward for our display competition to win a window styled by visual merchandising expert Debbie Flowerday. We love the business and felt it would be a great fit for our special Christmas window display creation with Debbie. We hoped the day would not only help Lucy with her windows but provide practical tips for all our independent stockists that carry beyond Christmas to all year round.
With time spent creating windows for the likes of Heal's, Miss Selfridge and the V&A, Debbie now teaches VM students at a number of leading colleges and universities. We came across her when she was speaking at the Autumn Fair.
Opened 50 years ago, George’s has been in the family for three generations. It was established by Lucy’s grandfather and she stated working there as a young teenager. Her and her husband became owners around 16 years ago.
First off, we chatted to Lucy about her windows. She told us: "My windows are an invitation into my shop and therefore massively important they represent what’s going on inside as well as being visually attractive. We hope to entice people outside in the cold, into our shop by combining seasonal offerings displayed beautifully."
As a busy owner, Lucy’s main challenge is time but she also said that she sometimes feels she tries to pack too much in. Debbie reassured her that a lot can be fitted into a window: “it’s all about shape and using the height” which became clear as the windows started coming together.
Lucy kindly cleared one of the windows ready for our arrival. The window on the right shows the previous display.
The cards windows are changed frequently – sometimes weekly – as passers by will window gaze.
Other windows can be more seasonal and if doing well can remain for a relatively long time
Lucy would never use props that aren’t available to buy as people invariably ask to do so.
Debbie created two windows: one using Talking Tables products and built around our hanging Santa and elves, the other using other brands and built around a Christmas tree prop. (Lucy planned to use it as a raffle prize and people were already inquiring about it while we were in-store.)
We loved the way Debbie incorporated ribbon and bows into the displays as it so simply but beautifully conveyed gifting.
Debbie’s top tips:
1 When it comes to dressing the window choose the merchandise first then create a theme based on the pattern or design.
2 Do a quick sketch so you know how much merchandise to have ready.
3 Think about the focal point of your window allowing the customer to view the merchandise as ease.
4 In terms of preparation, Debbie advises: “Clean the windows and the window lights beforehand”.
5 She says that every window display kit should include a staple gun, double sided tape, nails and nylon fishing wire (which looks invisible when used).
6 Prices should always be taken off or hidden.
Commenting on the day Debbie said: "The experience was absolutely great, Lucy is so open minded and was happy for me to dress her window. There was a great atmosphere in Lucy’s shop and happy helpful staff, I really enjoyed my day."
Lucy said: "Debbie was very professional and enthusiastic in her thought and design process through to the creation of the windows. I learnt a lot about the use of spaces in my bespoke windows of which she explained the best use of display options for them. Creating sections within the window, ensuring there is a focal point, creating height and telling a story. She used ribbon to hang honeycomb balls and wicker stars which look stunning. Debbie used this display technique in both windows which ties them together beautifully. I had so much fun hosting and learning from Debbie and thoroughly enjoyed being around her creative vibe."
Talking Tables is committed to supporting our independent stockists with a programme of marketing services, including prizes for instagram giveaways, to in-store merchandising materials, to display competitions . If you want to find out more we'd love to hear from you. Contact email@example.com.