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Rebecca Schwarz What’s In Your Window?: Florists share display ideas

Florists share display ideas

Written by Rebecca Schwarz
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From upside-down umbrellas to vintage records, Canadian florists are finding creative ways to attract potential customers to their stores – and keep them coming back. We chatted with florists from across the country to see what they were doing to spice up their displays and window décor.

At Rose Bowl Flowers & Gifts in Elmsdale, N.S., owner Eva van de Riet incorporates black and white photographs into her window displays. “You find them on the Internet. We take those, get them blown up to a poster size, put them on foam core, and hang them. Then we put brightly coloured bouquets, and cling-on letters on the window that say ‘add colour to your life.’”

Do your window displays lure customers to your store? Read on to see what florists across the country are doing to stop traffic.
Van de Riet has a specific approach to creating her window displays. “You have to have a story in your head, even if no one else knows what it is. We change the displays every two months, but we make small changes every week or so. Just enough, so that people think, ‘that’s different.’ Our in-store displays, we change that every week, week and a half.”

Daryle Massen of New Westminster Floral Company in New Westminster, B.C., considers her front window “our window to the world.” Her favourite seasonal window display? Christmas, of course, and Massen believes it’s never too early to start designing for the holidays. “I start in September and add to it. I try to do it like they do it in Bloomingdale’s. For Thanksgiving we set up a table, then we move into Halloween, and Remembrance Day. We build on it until Christmas. Once you get a tree decorated, you price it, so you could sell it. I just price them on the front counter. It’s not hanging off the tree. The ceiling, I have cup hooks all over it, for criss-crossing lights, and we hang hundreds of silver or gold ornaments. They look up and it’s like heaven.”

Massen has definite ideas about what makes a window display stand out. For starters, she won’t put price points in her window. “Certain people think you shouldn’t put anything out that isn’t for sale. But the window is to bring people in. I get better results from a great window display than from an ad.”

So what makes a window display a successful one? Massen says that appealing to the senses is key. “You need something that moves, something that flashes, like crystal that catches the sun. We’ve got a flashing light. We’ve got a lot of mirror balls. We get a lot of lights from IKEA. Coloured hanging lights, shaped like flowers. You need big things, not little things the eye can’t catch. They’re a showcase for our creativity, not a bunch of things to fill in the window. We help establish the holidays, you have to tell people a holiday is coming.”

Although her displays can be purchased, Massen won’t put fresh flowers or plants in her display. “I don’t want anything dead. It has to be clean.” Massen leaves the lights on in her window during the night, to guarantee maximum exposure. A typical display, she says, takes two days to set up.

When it comes to gathering ideas for displays, Marj Davidson has learned to be on the alert at all times. Davidson, owner of Scentiments Floral Ltd., of Prince Albert, Sask., says her best idea started out as a dinner-party joke. “We just did one over Mother’s Day. We got some orange containers and vases. Orange you glad to be a Mom? We sold a couple vases out of the window.”

Val Wing, co-owner of Brady’s House of Flowers in Weyburn, Sask., has a special reason for putting extra effort into her windows.

“We have a hospital across the street, and our windows, at night, it’s a highlight for the nurses.”

For Wing, the purpose of her window is to showcase what is “new and unique and seasonal.” To maximize her window exposure, Wing struck a deal with a local business. “We have a window that we use to promote our product, in a physiotherapy clinic. It works well for both of us, they get their window decorated, and we promote our business.”

At McKellars Flowers & Gifts in Dresden, Ont., owner Christal Wills matches her windows to events in her community, like the annual antique car show. “We have a blast from the past weekend, we put vinyl records and gerbera daisies hanging from the windows, and they rotate. We’ve done poodle skirts and saddle shoes. We try to work with what’s going on in town, like fruits and vegetables for the fair, quilts, balloons, it’s a farming community. I always have a picture of the fair’s
ambassadors, just to promote the town.” 

Belinda Ballard-Mussett, owner of Manotick Florists in Manotick, Ont., has seen big changes in window displays since 1977, when her business opened. “Before they were more functional, here’s your flowers, here’s your price tag, come and get it. Now it’s more home décor, you have several items how you would use them at home. The podiums are in the closet.”

In keeping with spring, at the time we spoke with Ballard-Mussett, she had an April-showers theme up in her window. “Right now we’ve got upside-down umbrellas with flowers. Anything you’ve got in the window has to be for sale, and show the customer what to do with the product, and create a desire to want, not need. We always have the three levels, up high, eye level and knee level.”

Monica McDougall, designer at Regina Florist Co. Ltd., in Regina, Sask., takes inspiration from her building. “Our building is really old, so we incorporate antiques into our displays.”

McDougall, like the other florists we spoke to, doesn’t let a small window hamper her creativity. “We’re doing a lot of painting on the window, we’ve got an artist, she paints on the window for us.”

It’s clear that when it comes to window displays, anything goes! Next time you’re looking for inspiration, take a look around your shop, down the street, around town or at home. After all, your window displays are often the first (and sometimes only!) chance you have to make a good impression with your customers, so make it last.

Do you have a stunning display you just have to show off? E-mail pictures of your displays or designs to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and you could see your creative work on our website or in the magazine.
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