Real Early Christmas Shopping

It's not quite three weeks past Christmas and already visions of sugar plums are dancing in the heads of buyers and other retail executives from seven divisions of Carter Hawley Hale Stores Inc., who converged at The Broadway's warehouse in Los Angeles last week to do some Christmas shopping.

Order book in hand, representatives from The Broadway, Neiman-Marcus, Thalhimers, John Wanamaker, and other sister divisions of Los Angeles-based Carter browsed among 10,000 Christmas ornaments ranging from crystal to hand-painted wooden decorations, and 14 decorated "theme" trees. There was a bear-decorated tree, a Victorian one decorated with ecru and lace, a crystal tree, a gold one and a color-coordinated mauve and rose tree.

There also were another 1,000 Christmas-theme home items that included table and wall decorations, Nativity sets, tree skirts, musical stockings, wreaths, garlands and candles.

"It's a little difficult," Broadway buyer Glenn C. Cook said of having to face Christmas so soon after the previous season. "I just packed my own ornaments away in the garage last week and here I am again. But it is better to do it again now while things are still fresh in my mind" as to what sold successfully in 1984.

Indeed, preparations for the Christmas, 1985, project began last May, according to Bill Noren, product manager for home decorations with Carter Hawley's merchandising services division, which develops products for the store divisions. "We started to explore the overseas market," where most of the decorations are manufactured, he explained.

"Actually this is the real beginning," he said, explaining that the stores now have to work on merchandising plans for what they ordered. "They have to be sold in the right environment with right display support. They cannot be simply thrown on a table. This is not the end. This is the beginning of a long process that will culminate in October when stores set up."

Although it's too soon to get a dollar tally on how much they spent, by the end of their five-day shopping spree buyers had placed as much as 70% to 85% of their total 1985 allowance.

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