'Tis The Season

Green Christmas

The seasonal decorations in Tim Hayden's Country Clutter franchise, a country-themed retail store in Hillsboro, Texas, made such an impression that customers mistook it for a Christmas store.

Apparently, someone at headquarters liked Hayden's idea. In 1996, Vacaville, California-based parent company Country Visions Inc. introduced a seasonal-store program called Christmas Clutter.

"[Christmas Clutter] gives people options and creates a more festive, holiday atmosphere in the mall," says Ken Petersen, CEO of Country Visions. "That helps get customers in the mood to shop. Kiosks and temporary stores are the latest retail trend--and a great way to add `buzz' to a mall."

Hayden, who opened a Christmas Clutter companion store in 1997, used the seasonal store to entice new customers to his year-round shop. He offered a gift with each purchase of $25 or more at Christmas Clutter. The catch? Customers had to pick the gift up at his Country Clutter store, on the other side of the mall. Hayden says his extra three months' work, along with an estimated $40,000 investment, earned revenues of more than $175,000.

While the Christmas Clutter opportunity is open only to existing Country Clutter franchisees, Country Visions has also developed a new seasonal franchise program for the general public. Called Santa's Clauset, the shops, which will be open from October or November through the first week of January, have a $2,000 franchise fee and a minimum $34,600 liquid cash requirement. Franchisees are supplied with inventory and a fixture package. Some 50 Santa's Clauset stores are expected to open this year.

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This article was originally published in the July 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 'Tis The Season.

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