Making Christmas a year-round business

The Christmas Hut is a year-round destination of magic, wonder and charm. Christabel and Peter have created the experience of a snowy northern-hemisphere Christmas, in a purpose built sparkling wooden hut that you might find in a village in Stockholm. They are winners of creating an excellent customer experience, making their Christchurch store a destination for people from Auckland, Wellington, Australia, America, England…

How did they do this? Chris and Peter started by identifying a niche market with demand, and grew from there. They consistently ensure everything on offer in The Christmas Hut is of a high caliber. They maintain a good rapport with fantastic suppliers. They listen to their customers and satisfy their needs beyond just merchandise.

By putting their customers first, Chris and Peter have made a store that is seemingly seasonal, to a business for 12 months of the year.

What’s happening the rest of the year?

What does Santa and his elves do throughout the year? They make Christmas goodies! And that’s what Chris, Peter and the team do too! In Autumn, Winter and Spring, The Christmas Hut team are making wreaths. To keep the space lively and fresh, they do regular revamps, and are always re-merchandising. On top of that, they make sure that every year, the store is closed for two weeks, to give themselves a chance to do a deep clean and re-design.

Of course, with the increasingly beloved practice of Midwinter Christmas in New Zealand, the store is lit up gloriously in the gloomier Winter months, and there’s always people popping in for a festive pick-me-up. From the words of the creators of this magical experience, “our amazing merchandising staff are constantly coming up with fabulous new ideas. As you can imagine we need to keep changing our displays to keep our customer entertained and inspired”.

Engaging with events

The Christmas Hut is a great space for bringing people together, and Chris and Peter really make the most of it. Their customers often ask them questions like “show me how to make wreaths?”, and “show me how to decorate my tree?” They decided to satisfy their customers’ curiosity and started running Thursday night workshops. Now around fifty people attend their Thursday workshops, and are treated with the opportunity of doing some shopping at exclusive attendee prices. They also run school holiday workshops, where kids are welcome to come together and make delightful things, like snowman treat jars or snow caves. The kids get a wonderful experience, and a creation to take home!

Customers and the community

The Christmas Hut are deeply connected with their local community, involved in events such as the Zonta Christmas house tour, which empowers women worldwide. Their Christmas spirit extends to local schools, and various charities, in the shape of beautiful gift baskets for raffle. They’re not just a shop, but a key part of Christchurch.

Chris and Peter’s customers are very loyal, and they know them on such a personal level that they do friendly visits for several customers a year, even travelling to other cities to see them. As delegates for Santa, they go and see the homes done up beautifully for Christmas, and their customers are always excited to see them! “It’s nice to see what they’re doing”, say Chris.

What are your opportunities to explore and expand your experience with your customers? Let us know how you keep engaged with your customers’ wants and needs. 

By Tammy Kuo
Marketing Exec | Retail NZ

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