How a Meijer team gets stores ready for the holidays.

Decorations go up the day after Halloween and disappear the day after Christmas.

If you are like most people, you spend a lot of time at stores during the holiday season, gathering food for big family meals and hunting for the perfect gifts for relatives and friends.

And if you’re wheeling your cart through Meijer during the holidays, you’ll be greeted by festive sights and offerings at every turn. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to create a merry setting for shopping, from decorations to music.

But it’s not Santa’s elves who get the credit.

Candy LaMere and her store transition team.

Candy LaMere and her store transition team.

Candy LaMere is one of many Meijer team members tasked with transitioning stores from Halloween to the holidays. She leads the effort at the Meijer store in Greenville, the West Michigan farming community where the Midwest retailer first set up shop more than 80 years ago.

“It’s fun to put the decorations up because it's exciting to see what’s new, and a little sad to put them away at the end,” said LaMere, who has been with Meijer for 30 years.

Months of planning

Prep begins in August when LaMere first sees the plans, or planogram, an industry term to describe a visual diagram or drawing that provides details on the placement of every product.

The day after Halloween is a big “go” day, and there’s no hocus pocus involved. Putting up the main decorations and displays to create a winter wonderland — with giant snowflakes and stars hanging from the ceiling — takes 16 to 32 hours. Fortunately, LaMere shares the work with her team of five. 

“It’s probably a good week and a half of preparation to get everything changed from one season to another because we have to get all of the skids ready. I'll have everything ready, and then it switches over,” she explained. 

Not everyone is happy to see the Christmas decorations go up Nov. 1. LaMere is used to hearing from customers who think it is too soon. But for every grumble, she said, there are shoppers who are asking about the store’s inventory of holiday merchandise.

That’s why the outdoor holiday lights, tree ornaments, gift bags, tableware, and holiday containers go up in October. In November, the rest — including trees and holiday decor — are displayed on the seasonal pad or center aisle located at the front of the Greenville store.

 

Labor of love

LaMere said she loves decorating Meijer for the holidays because she loves the season. It’s about spending time with family and thinking about others. At her home, she displays nearly 500 Santas in her dining room. 

“When I was 13, my grandmother made me a ceramic Santa when she was in the nursing home, and that started my collection.”

All the decorations have to be gone the day after Christmas. The team begins taking them down Christmas Eve and finishes up the morning of Dec. 26.

Do shoppers notice the disappearing decorations on Christmas Eve? Rarely.

“They are focused on getting their last-minute shopping done,” LaMere said.

 

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