If customer experience is the key to setting your business apart, the value of a holiday makeover should be obvious. The National Retail Federation expects Nov./Dec. sales (excluding cars, gas and restaurants) to grow between 3.6 and 4 percent from last year to $678.75 billion-$682 billion, with most of the growth in November. And no, it’s not all online: Most shoppers over 35 still do most of their spending in stores ... and some of the most successful are decorated for the holidays. Increasingly, decorations are springing up in late September. This month we highlight a few standouts that show you don’t have to spend a pile to create a shopping experience that will keep customers coming back year-round. 


EyeShop Optical Center Lewis Center, OH

Folks in Lewis Center, OH now expect something fun from EyeShop Optical Center in autumn. “We pick a theme and incorporate it into our displays, capped off with our Halloween party,” says owner Cynthia Sayers, OD. “We serve food, and everyone dresses up.” (Think Minions, ’80s, villains...). But serious fun takes planning. “We plan for about a month so we can focus on the details. (It helps to have an art major on staff!) We tie in our ads and sales.” Customers also love the Ugly Sweater Christmas party and a “sparkle and shine” day that Sayers describes as an “explosion of Christmas glitter.”


 
EyeStyles Optical and Boutique Oakdale, MN

EyeStyles Optical and Boutique in Oakdale, MN, makes up for a limited holiday decoration budget with sheer creative ingenuity. In falls past, owner Nikki Griffin has done some beautiful work staging frames on floral displays. Right now, the optical sports a huge pair of glasses covered in leaves inviting people to “fall” in love with her eyewear. Griffin sees amazing results on a shoestring. “I have been doing elaborate displays for years. The cost ranges from zero to $100.” The “Fall in Love” display was cut out of foamcore and covered in dollar store leaves. Total cost: About $30. “I found the inspiration on Pinterest and did it as a family. We projected the eyeglass shape onto the board and cut it out; the kids had a blast gluing leaves. I added little rings and bits of chain to hang each tier. The signage is funfoam and sharpie!”


Vision Health Institute Orlando, FL

This is a practice that goes into the holidays with the bar high. For owners Drs. Mark and Karen Perry, holiday displays are about maintaining standards and integrating decorations into a design scheme that’s short on red and green. The solution? A White Christmas in Florida! “We do it ourselves,” Mark says. It takes several hours, with an outlay of around $1,500. The standout feature? “The trees. We put up two white trees … we also have matching foot-and-a-half-high nutcrackers. They’re blue, purple, pink, and really stand out. Patients point them out every time they come through.”


Rockford Family Eyecare ROCKFORD, MI

In Rockford, MI, passersby admiring Rockford Family Eyecare’s holiday displays could be forgiven for assuming they're looking at the work of a pro. But it’s strictly DIY for Theodore Sees, OD, and crew. “With a lot of creativity and Pinterest ideas we create backdrops.” Rockford has an annual charity scarecrow-making event. “We made three, threw out bales of straw, added ‘Guitar Hero’ instruments and created the Rockford Family Eyecare band: ‘Eye Problems.’” Total cost: $30. “It was a fun staff bonding event. But the straw; it was a bit of a mess!”


Vision Associates GIRARD, PA

It’s the little holiday rituals or talismans, however goofy or grudgingly performed, that are what make your holidays unique. At Vision Associates in Girard, PA, this spirit is embodied in a standing eyeball. We’ll let Rick Rickgauer explain: “Doc, when she was in optometry school, received the standing eyeball as a gift from a classmate for Christmas. We have used it every Halloween and it gets great responses from children. Of course, it helps that it’s filled with candy, but it’s the oddity of the display that captures the most attention.” For more traditional fare, there are seasonal quilts hanging on the walls — made by the doc’s mom.


Mill Creek Optical Dansville, NY

A little community coordination goes a long way. In Dansville, NY, the chamber of commerce is happy to oblige, and Mill Creek Optical is in the thick of it. With two big windows, “We’re no Bloomingdales, but we do pretend!” says owner Jennifer Leuzzi. “Last year, in line with the chamber’s theme (red & green and gingerbread), we had one window set as a kitchen making gingerbread men, including a cookbook with reading glasses laying on it. … This year it’s Winter Wonderland and we’ll have windows full of snow, polar bears and rabbits, and sparkle!”


This article originally appeared in the November-December 2017 edition of INVISION

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