“What’s the Halloween theme this year?”
This may be the most asked question I get as a visual merchandiser at Rogers Gardens every year starting around, oh, April, at least by fellow employees (the most asked customer question is: “Don’t you just love your job?” to which the answer is YES!).
The theme name is the most defining aspect of our Halloween display. This year it’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. With this we set the tone, mood and merchandise selection for the season. We want an immersive experience for our guests, much like walking through a door to a parallel universe. It’s like Narnia. But maybe a little smaller. And we don’t really have closets.
I’m writing this in the middle of June and although we have a general idea of what Halloween will look like, it’s still just a concept. We know the inspiration and direction it will take and have the particulars on specific projects, but we are not sure how it will all meld together. It’s all part of the creative editing process. There are so many amazing ideas flying around, by the time everything is said and done some may have gone by the wayside, either shelved for another year or tweaked in a different direction altogether. Some projects can be labor intensive, taking more time than planned, but then sometimes the priorities change and new ideas occur as we’re setting up.
We design and build everything in-house which requires a great deal of creative problem solving. Right now we are processing the ideas and researching/teaching ourselves how to make what we need and how to make it work. In the past we have been tasked with how does one make a Chinese dragon that breathes smoke? Or where do you start when you want to make tree roots that appear to be coming through the ceiling? How about a bed crawling with bedbugs? Or a drippy skeleton arm chandelier? A blown-up crow? Once that is figured out there’s a whole trial and error aspect that comes into play during the actual set up. Things rarely work as planned on the first try and adjustments must be made. The ensuing whirlwind of flying from plan A to plan B and sometimes to plan C is what makes up the 2 weeks of actual set up.
We have a pretty diverse group of team members so no matter what the idea is, someone can figure out how to make it. There are the builders who can construct any required structure or mad scientist lab with simple materials and a lot of sweat. There are the creative master-minds that can see the vision and make it come to life. There are the artists that transform unlikely supplies into unrecognizable masterpieces. And it helps that we have a little bit of crazy in our genes. I mean, really. Who could look at these:
and think “Let’s do this”:
to make this:
Sometimes we have a craft lesson.
To get this project up and running, I taught my fellow Michelangelo’s a series of techniques for construction. It involved, in order: plywood, floral foam, mad carving skills, craft paper, white glue, canvas drop cloths, mad fabric-sculpting skills, and a few tears. Also the required amount of sweat. Let’s check on their progress.
I knew you could do it! I’m so proud! *sniff*
Meanwhile this guy has been hanging around freaking everyone out.
Another team member had decided to do a little home decorating. Little home… because it’s a… oh, never mind.
Fast-forward to August and now the first week of Halloween setup is behind us. The transformation of the retail space is intense and quick. Employees walk thru with huge eyes, some exclaiming how they had only been off for one day and all this has gone up already?
A look inside with some before and after shots and a sneak peek into our Halloween world, Something Wicked This Way Comes – Rogers Gardens Halloween 2015!