Squeezing Creativity with $50.00 Budget for the Small Town Shop Windows

By on March 8, 2012 — Updated on August 28, 2016
Guest article by Gary Martin.

I live in a little city called Willits. The town is populated by 5,000 people and we are on a mission to decorate the shop windows in town.

This town competes with the county seat, Ukiah, 40 minutes away for shoppers. In Ukiah you can find several medium priced department stores and the proverbial WalMart. Here in Willits ( Mendocino County, California, United States) we don’t even have a Dry Cleaner.

The nearest mall is 90 minutes away in Santa Rosa. At one time Willits was a prosperous logging town. Now, the town just survive. I am tired of the way the town looks and merchants seem ready to try new presentations of their image. They are beginning to compete with new presentations of their products. As the town drunk said to me, “You’re gonna decorate the fxxk out of this town.” And in so many words, that is what I am out to do.

For your consideration, please take into account that the budget for the windows is about $50.00 each. I have to beg and borrow props and use what I can find locally. None of these shops are very fashion forward but the people are pleasant to work with and give me a good deal of creative space. Here are the photos:

Easter 2012 window display
dress hanger themed window display
jewelry window display
wedding shop window
window display willits
Easter egg window display
gary martin shop window

I have been designing windows here in town and believe I mentioned we are giving a workshop on window design for all the local merchants. We are partnering with local artists to design the shop windows and create a shopping experience unique to our area of Northern, CA.

I am getting some interest from local artists who would like to do windows. I would welcome the diversity and it gives them an opportunity to exercise their creativity composing pictures in three dimensions.

_____ __ _

Gary Martin
Gary Martin, M.A., is an art historian. He is retired from teaching at a college level and now volunteers to teach art history to elementary and high school students in his area. He also works on shop windows for local merchants. He worked in visual merchandising in his youth.

He is currently teaching the importance of window display to local merchants and has been changing the look of the small town of Willits, California, (Pop. 5,000). The City of Willits and local Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring window workshops for merchants. We hope to make Willits a unique shopping experience and attract more customers to our town.

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  1. tatess

    June 18, 2012 at 3:04 am

    $50 is not enough for a visual design budget , but if you know where to get the materials then this is more than enough .We only need to use our resources and creativity.
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  2. RonLeyba

    June 21, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Wow 50 bucks for a great visual design that converts. Really cool tip. Thanks Gary!
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