Southern Antiques candy cane gingerbread display copy

Hometown Retailer Shines During the Holidays By Julie McCallum

Andrea Milham, owner of Southern Antiques, goes all out with her holiday displays and merchandising.

As seen in Holiday Shop 2022.

Southern Antiques, located in picturesque Laurel, Mississippi, goes all out with its holiday displays and merchandising. Read on for tips and tricks Andrea Milhan, owner, has learned during the past 13 years.

Southern Antiques candy canes and Santa
All photos courtesy of Southern Antiques

Which is your favorite holiday to decorate the store for?

Andrea Milham: While Christmas is probably everyone’s favorite holiday to decorate for, I would say Halloween is a CLOSE second! Our town and especially our neighborhood is crazy for Halloween. We get over 1,500 trick-or-treaters at our house each year! In fact I’ve often been called the HalloQueen due to my love for the holiday! But again, that doesn’t diminish my love for the other holidays either. I’m an equal opportunity decorator!!

Southern Antiques harvest owl

Do you have any special props that you use for multiple holidays?

AM: As far as props are concerned, one rule we have at our store is EVERYTHING is for sale. So I love taking unexpected items throughout the shop and using them as risers or displays. And always thinking outside the box. Anytime you can use something for an easel or a riser that ISN’T an easel or a riser, that’s a win! And don’t forget the ceiling! I don’t start any new display without a ladder handy.

Southern Antiques Halloween cute decor

Even with over 10,000 square feet of retail space we still run out of places to put all of our merchandise so hanging it from the ceiling or draping it around chandeliers is just a natural extension of any tabletop display.

Andrea Milham Southern Antiques
Andrea Milham, owner of Southern Antiques

How does your team approach decorating?

AM: Setting up our displays is definitely a team effort. Most of the staff is involved in tagging and prepping the merchandise for me but oftentimes I will come in at night while we are closed to “work the magic.” My husband, John,is usually there with me for these late night design sessions and has developed a great sense for what I need and where. We’ve spent many a special occasion eating candlelight dinners surrounded by boxes of merchandise, packing materials, and tool boxes. But after hours is when we get our best work done!

Southern Antiques white gold santa

The staff members love to come to work the next day and see a new area transformed! In addition, one of my employees, Nicole, helps set up the displays in our bridal and tabletop department, while Carole, whose background is in apparel, is great at helping display jewelry and accessories! Both of them have incredibly lovely homes, so if you are looking for someone to help you out in your store, think of friends who have “an eye” for design already! It’s easy to transfer that creativity and sense of scale used in a home to store set up and display!

Southern Antiques Spring bunnies

Where does your greatest display inspiration come from?

AM: Setting up the store for each season really is our idea of fun and we are always happy to see the enjoyment our customers have in seeing it!

Julie McCallum

Julie McCallum is editor-in-chief of Gift Shop Magazine. She is formerly the editor of Museums & More and has more than 25 years experience in publishing.




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