All this panicking about a late Thanksgiving and mixed retail messages led us to set the store for Christmas a bit earlier. We have two trees up and snowflakes hung, though we still haven't gotten our front window together. But one of the reasons the trees are up is that we have ornaments to sell and even though many of our ornaments look nice in baskets, they generally look even better on trees.
When I started buying nonbook (or gift items) for Boswell, I really didn't know that Christmas ornaments would become a big part of our mix. But Amie and Jason both spurred me on, based on Schwartz sales (which I had not even paid attention to) and with a good first year, we've increased our assortment every year since. I think we are now at our peak, not because we couldn't sell more, but just because I'm not sure how much more display space I want to allocate.
I try to buy an assortment of price points, and look for ornaments that fill various niches. Some of our lines are design based, others have a fair trade appeal, and at least two of our lines are made in the United States. We've got wooden ornaments made in a Wisconsin studio and metal ornaments from a workshop in Rhode Island, both of which are celebrating their second year at Boswell. I originally picked them both up at the temporary booths at the Chicago gift show.
We have one particularly fancy line, Roost, and that's the only line that isn't completely on the floor. Anne and I are going to reset the tables and get their fabric trees, brush squirrels, and a couple of other things on display. I noticed we have two bowls of wooden crosses (not from Roost), so that can be consolidated. Last year we blew through these crosses, by the way, so we went back and got more.
The heart of our assortment was first shopped for its bookends, but it turns out the bookend business is tough going, even in a bookstore. I'll talk about that in another post. I had some success with their home goods, but this year I narrowed our focus to ornaments. This line doesn't really seem to have much penetration in our area until you get to Whitefish Bay.
This is just a small assortment of what we have to offer. Altogether we have close to 200 different ornaments in stock. If you come a week before Christmas, don't expect the same variety.
I promise we won't start playing Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving.