The Holiday Season & Tea Retailers: Tips for Creating Impactful Displays

A holiday tea product display at Fezziwig’s Marketplace in O'Fallon, Ill. (Courtesy of Fezziwig’s Marketplace)

Creating impactful and inspiring displays for the holidays can feel like a daunting task. However, there are a few tips that will make this project easy, fun and hopefully profitable. In this article, you will learn how to create beautiful displays for both your brick-and-mortar stores and online shops.

Overall, visual merchandising is just like telling a story. It needs a title, substance, details and a way to capture the attention of your customers.

For Inside Your Store:

1. Choose a theme for your display. Examples include a “Christmas Morning Tea,” “Tea for the Busy Holiday Traveler” or “A Warm & Cozy Afternoon at Home.”

2. Collect all the items you sell that go with this theme. Possibilities include tea pots, cups, tea travelers, cookies, scone mixes, blankets and other interesting items. If you do not sell these items, go through your home and see what would work for props. You probably have what you need right at your fingertips. Use cake plates, risers, wrapped holiday gift boxes for adding height and interest to your display.

Photo: Courtesy of Fezziwig’s Marketplace

3. Artfully display your items on a table, hutch, tea cart, etc. Use the following theory: Build a pyramid or mountain. First place a tablecloth or blanket on the table to give yourself a base. Start at the top of your mountain with your tallest items, such as a floral arrangement, picnic basket, etc., which should be placed in the middle of the table for the peak of your mountain. Next, you will build other items to be at the middle height of the mountain, and lastly place the rest of the items on the lowest part of your mountain, which is on the table itself.

4. Check your lighting! This is a big tip that will make a world of difference in how your product shows. Unless you are intending to have a dim light for your display, make sure the light is shining brightly on your clean, well placed merchandise. Focus your spotlight on the upper center of your mountain so that everything is illuminated. This is called the "hot spot."

Photo: Courtesy of Fezziwig’s Marketplace

5. Check your work. Is this display easy to understand? Is the theme or story you are telling simple to grasp? Does your merchandise have any collaterals that can help tell the story? Is everything priced and easy for the customer to pick up and take to the cash register?

For Your Online Store:

The principals are quite similar for your online store and your bricks and mortar stores; however, an online store can be even more challenging. You can only capture the customer visually online, as opposed to using all five senses in a physical store. The good news these days is that story telling is becoming much easier thanks to camera phones that can take excellent pictures, and they are easy to edit, too.

Here are some tips:

1. Tell your story through a visual narrative. You have a small picture window to look through, so make it impactful and tell your story at a quick glance. Draw them in to say, “Yes, I want to shop here.” Still use display items to convey your story such as textiles, wooden pieces, colorful artwork, etc.

Photo: Courtesy of Fezziwig’s Marketplace

2. Stay true to your brand and your message. Make it feel like your store and your vibe. Going off this path can confuse the customer about who you are and what your message is.

3. Make sure placement of your product makes sense in the picture. An example would be showing tea with a tea pot or a cup of tea with the loose leaves around it. Leave enough space in between the items so that each one shows well.

4. Lighting, lighting, lighting. Make sure your lighting and your editing is as great as it can be. A bright sunny day may not be ideal for taking pictures. Always have a white sheet or tablecloth handy to filter the light when taking your photographs.

5. Check your work. Make sure your message is extremely easy to understand and let them know how to shop with you. Make your pictures sharable and encourage purchasers and followers to post pictures on their social media and tag you.

Ellen Leaf-Moore (pictured with her husband Tim Moore) is the owner of Fezziwig’s Marketplace in O’Fallon, Ill. She’s also a Certified Level 4 STI Graduate. See to learn more.