It’s no longer surprising that the Christmas and holiday season has extended. Some installations and decorations are being displayed in October these days. The Fourth of July “kind of turns the corner – people are more open to talk about holiday décor after that.”
That’s according to Caroline Puller, vice president of visual design with Seasonscapes, who talked about strategies for seasonal success at Cultivate’23. Puller has nearly 20 years’ experience in the holiday décor business. While her focus is specifically on dapper decorations, she provided wisdom on how the green industry can also capitalize on Christmas.
The first big question to ask is “Why sell holiday décor?” Puller listed some easy answers. Doing so brings joy to your community; it can bring you an additional revenue line; it can stop your competition from coming after your clients; and you can become a one-stop shop for your clients, providing décor, whether live or not, 12 months of the year.
Selling holiday décor also allows you to keep your best staff working year-round and it builds comradery among your staff. “It’s a feel-good factor for everyone,” Puller said.
The next question is “How do you scale your business for Christmas?” There are only so many weeks in a year – and for growers, the majority of those are dedicated to their crops. Another issue is storage, as there are only so many square feet available as well. Puller’s operation developed what they call “Christmas in a Box.” Everything that’s going to be sold is in one box, whether that’s a fully dressed tree, wreath or moss ball. She said there is a demand for that simplicity.
There are myriad options when it comes to building your holiday inventory. Those who are just starting out to the most experienced sellers may first purchase online and from catalogs. If the holiday décor side of your business becomes more serious, you may travel to the Dallas or Atlanta markets and order supplies early. You can even purchase pre-decorated holiday décor to resell.
But what to purchase? “Keep it super simple and only take on what you can handle,” Puller stated. “It can snowball quickly.”
To keep it simple, she suggested having set themes. (And make those themed designs easy to scale.) Only stock common items – such as trees, wreaths, ornaments and fillers – you know will move.
Storage efficiency will also help keep things simple. Remember that greenery takes precedence, then the most popular colors, then the most often used ornaments at the easiest spots to reach. “Organizing things this way saved us nearly 40% on labor the first year” they used this organization system, Puller said. Another tip: Place a sample of what’s inside each box on its outside.
“Start production as soon as you can so you don’t get behind,” Puller said. Pre-pick decoration kits for the needed items. Try to fabricate like themes together to save time. “Label, label, label – the theme, the color, what it’s for,” she added. When projects are done, have a plan for where they will be stored.
To produce holiday product, you’ll need the right staff. Puller recommended considering existing staff and exterior crews who may be quieter during winter months. You can also look to temp agencies and local colleges as well as social media posts to find others.
If you plan on keeping staff season to season, offer a come-back bonus and labor goal bonuses. Be sure to set goals and stick with them. “How long does it take the elves to do their job? Your time is so valuable. Make sure you charge enough” for it, Puller said.
That said, she did caution not to expect a big profit your first year hocking holiday. Critical considerations for your selling prices include material costs, freight and shipping costs, production labor, loading and handling labor, storage and general overhead.
With all that in mind, adding a Christmas component to your green operation can be a fun and profitable addition to your business plan – as long as you have a plan in place.
by Courtney Llewellyn