, Newburyport, MA

December 14, 2012

Tinsel time in Port

Downtown merchants making it festive


---- — The decoration of shop windows appears to be a win-win situation during the holidays: Shoppers are uplifted by colorful presentations and managers seem to enjoy exploring their creative sides by making their show windows glitter.

Numerous storefronts and business interiors here are decorated this year, which business leaders say helps generate business as well as edify spirits.

“Many merchants have put on great presentations this season,” said Ann Ormond, president of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “They are colorful, creative and make people stop and look.”

Ormond and several members of her team recently walked the commercial area to take the decorating pulse of the downtown — and she reports it is vibrant.

There are numerous reasons why shop owners make the effort to create attractive displays.

“We’ve found that a lot of people do window shopping at night and come back to buy the next day,” said Jan Morgan, a principal along with Cathy Sweazey and Ann Baldwin at Sisters We Three at 57 Pleasant St.

“We change the windows frequently because we have about 200 artisans, and we want to give exposure to as many as possible. These windows have sold a lot of product.”

Diane Sirard, owner of Soak at 7 State St., also changes her windows frequently but for a different reason.

“Our products (such as soap) melt in the sun,” said Sirard. “We have to keep moving items and changing the presentation. But people notice.

“Sometimes customers stick their heads in the door to say they like a new look, and don’t necessarily shop that day.”

Renee Chouinard, a manager at Cool Jewels at 29 State St., said, “Decorating is a creative outlet for me. We change the window about every month, and I enjoy that project and deciding what to do.”

Merchants who have businesses that bring customers indoors for a sustained visit decorate in part to be competitive.

Alan Mons, a principal in Chococoa Baking Co. in The Tannery, said that most coffee shops are intent on creating a festive atmosphere.

“There are a lot of places where people can stop for coffee and a snack,” said Mons, who with Julie Ganong runs the growing enterprise. The company recently shipped 1,800 packages of whoopie pies to a Whole Foods outlet in New York.

“Each shop tries to be a little different, but everyone wants to offer a pleasant experience. People want to enjoy the holidays.”

Joy McFarland, manager of the Garrison Inn, said dressing up the lobby is a sign of good hospitality.

“We want our guests to feel comfortable when they arrive,” said McFarland. “We enjoy decorating and I think our visitors also like to see a holiday theme.”

Sometimes window decorations can be too appealing.

Greta Reineke, who runs Greta’s Great Grains at 24 Pleasant St., this season is presenting a wooden toylike Christmas scene in her window depicting a bucolic holiday scene in Europe. She is from Austria, and her husband comes from Germany

“We’ve had a few people look in the window, come in and they want to buy the decorations,” Reineke said with a smile. “But I tell them they are not for sale.”