Interview with Detroit Garden Works' buyer, Rob Yedinak.
Q: How do you see the holiday season contributing to your business?
A: Our holiday business has grown over the years. Spring is obviously important for garden centers. But holiday business is something we had to grow to balance out our year. Now, the holidays sometimes surpass our spring business, which is really great.
Q: Can you tell what it’s like preparing for the holiday season and how that contributes to your customer’s experience?
A: There’s always a little dread in the fall knowing we have to switch over from Halloween to Christmas quickly. It’s a busy time and going to create havoc in the store. Visual display havoc specifically, and it all happens live with customers there. Though, when we start the process, right after Halloween, it’s a little slower. But it’s not bad for business. In fact, I think people are fascinated if you involve them in the process and explain what you are doing. These customers also tend to be the early bird holiday shoppers and planners so they don’t mind, in fact I think they like it.
Q: Displays are an important part of your business?
A: Yes. Displays transform our space. If a customer hasn’t been in the store since spring, it’s a fun surprise for them. Since we stay open throughout the process, they also get to participate. They often wander into our workshop. We call it The Warehouse. It’s where we do custom arrangements and our displays for the store. Some people feel a little uncomfortable when they realize it’s not our retail space. But they get up close to people putting together holiday arrangements and they often get ideas themselves. They can return to the store with a fresh idea and buy the sticks, stems and picks for their own arrangements.
Q: What’s your process for creating your famous store displays? Is it collaborative? Is there a theme or do you let your imaginations run wild?
A: Years ago we used to pick a theme to stick with. We were still getting our holiday business off the ground and working with a limited budget. Having a theme, like ice and crystals say, helped. But as our budget grew along with our holiday traffic, we broke out of that and started investing in more unique items and displays. We can let our imagines run wild now - or at least a little wild.
Q: We are a pottery company here at Anamese so I’m curious what's a successful use of pottery in a display to you?
A: Pottery is a foundational component. Terracotta is always great for the holidays but we also use a variety of glazes and styles. Pottery becomes the receptacle for winter arrangements - lots of willow sticks, red and yellow twig dogwood, etc. For holiday displays I think of pottery not as the finished product but an important ingredient, so you have to think about the whole picture to make it all come together.
Q: Any holiday design trends you are seeing this year that you think are interesting?
A: LED lighting. When it was first introduced it was all a harsh, icy blue. But now you basically don’t see incandescent. LED can be warmer now, which I think is great for winter landscapes that are already icy! And new, ingenious applications of LED are always popping up. They also last longer which is great farther north with the long winter nights.
Thanks to Rob for taking the time to chat with us. We always look forward to seeing the artful displays at Detroit Garden Works during the holiday season.