KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Every year Cherri Emery decorates the Christmas tree in the front of her store Chocol’art with the dried hydrangeas from her garden, she said. Emery adds to it decorative boxes and lights, keeping the display "simple but elegant." However, this year she added little extra.
“We do chocolate,” Emery said about her business. “We have an antique horse in here that we use all the time and we actually put a Willy Wonka hat on him.”
She placed the horse next to the Christmas Tree and nutcrackers in her front window for everyone to see. She’s competing against 19 other businesses in the first ever Downtown Kalamazoo Holiday Window Decorating Contest.
“The impetus are the mosaic Turkish lamps that we have hanging and table lamps,” said Jeffrey Neal while standing in front of his window display at Terrapin Worldwide Imports. “They’re all hand-tiled.”
The display theme at Terrapin was “light up the holidays,” Neal said. They hung colorful silver, red and green circular lamps in the window next to snowflakes. He stated that the display mirrors what customers see inside.
“Ours is very kind of internationally-focused with our fair-trade and our worldwide imports,” Neal said. “Then it kind of goes from there. Clothing stores have a little bit more of a clothing display.”
Like their next door neighbor Adrianne’s Boutique, which put decorations around their clothes in the front window. Owner Adrianne Merkling said in one window she hung festive red and green ornament balls between the mannequins. On the other side, she put up a few of her best selling hoodies.
“‘I am freaking cold’ is my bestseller all year round because we live in Michigan and someone’s always cold,” Merkling said.
Her bestseller is next to two other hoodies that state “The sass is strong in this one” and “I was not made for winter.” Her customers love them Merkling said. She hopes now that passersby will vote for them on the Downtown Kalamazoo Facebook page. Pictures of all the window displays are posted there. The one with the most likes by the November 30 deadline wins.
“It’s really great that the downtown does this,” Merkling said. “It helps us bring new people down that might have not been down here or see businesses they might have not known were here.”
According to a press release from the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership, who’s organizing the contest, the winner will be announced on Monday December 3. Also, if a voter takes a picture in front of one the windows displays and posts it on his or her Facebook page, tagging @KalamazooDowntown, then they’ll be entered into a raffle for $50 to be spent in the area.
Merkling said she regularly checks to see how many “likes” she has. She hopes she wins but loves that the city is doing this.
“It’s just a really cool town,” Merkling said. “Christmastime is a lot of fun.”