What’s New: Garden Brighteners

Some people just don’t have green thumbs. Others in harsher climates face long winter months where nothing grows. Still others look for garden brighteners they won’t have to water—ever. How to help? If you’re a savvy retailer, you’ll consider stocking up on works like these from eight American design studios:

Kick-Starting Christmas with Community Events

When communities celebrate, businesses prosper, and Christmas is an ideal time for craft shops and galleries to join wholeheartedly in citywide holiday festivities. With opportunities ranging from storefront decorating and window display contests to street caroling and sponsored floats in Yuletide parades, small business retailers have readymade opportunities to join the fun, show their community spirit and entice post-events revelers into their stores.

So These Are Santa’s Elves?

In Norse folklore, there are creatures called Nisse, elusive elf-like beings who dwell in the woodlands and lend unseen but helpful hands to people who live there. At Christmas time, Norwegians offer small gifts of affection and recognition to the elves to ensure their continued kindness. That’s the kind of folk story the Solli sisters, Marie and Anne, grew up hearing from their Norwegian father.

21st Century Reboot

Gallery owners who usually have “Jingle Bells” stuck in their minds at this time of year are getting used to a different refrain from Bob Dylan: “The times, they are a-changin’.”
The world of retail—older customers aging into retirement, younger customers difficult to pin down, fewer print-ad options, an ever-present Internet and general uneasiness with the economy—is in flux. Yet some shops are thriving. How? By changing merchandise and price points, adjusting store hours to better accommodate clientele, adding websites and web shopping, and listening to or hiring younger talent.

What’s New: Contemporary Folk Art

Maybe it’s because of modern society’s tendency to take comfort in the past while marching straightforward into green living, but more and more artists are adapting “folk” expressions in their work. They’re drawing on historical roots—visionary, primitive and tribal art—and using everyday objects in a variety of non­traditional ways.