Setting the Table

Artistic Creativity Meets Marketing at Tablescapes 2013

By Kate McDermott | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 09.04.13 – Frederick Scene, Lifestyles

Forget the Yellow Brick Road—been there, done that. If you’re looking for a real adventure in imagination this month, follow the red brick sidewalks of Shab Row & Everedy Square along the path of Tablescapes 2013 for a table-top trip through fairy tales and fantasy.

Twelve Shab Row & Everedy Square merchants will participate in this year’s event by hosting a tablescape at their individual businesses. From Sept. 28 through Oct. 3, these retailers will highlight their merchandise amid whimsical table settings, which in the past have included the train of a bride’s gown (repurposed as the table runner) and hand-thrown pottery plates made to look like shoe box lids. This year, The Perfect Truffle’s tablescape will feature the chocolatier’s take on Hansel and Gretel and Footlights will pay tribute to Cinderella, complete with a ballet slipper centerpiece and lots of tulle, lace and even some pumpkins. Do not expect, however, to see Prince Charming. According to Footlights employee Terry Alger, “He works at the Silver Spring store.”

This year’s event will be bigger than previous years, but will also be significantly shorter, lasting only one week as opposed to three weeks. In previous years, Sandy Steele, one of the event’s organizers and owner of The Loft at AI, displayed tablescapes for viewing on the dining tables in her custom home-furnishings warehouse. But now that the tablescapes are taking their show on the road, so to speak, it worked better for the merchants to shorten the event to one week.

Serving A Crowd

The location may be different this year, but the artistry and creativity that have become the hallmark of Tablescapes have not changed. Tammy Martinez, owner of The Little Pottery Shop, and a cadre of talented artists will still be making pottery for some of the displays as they have done in years past, playing off design themes to create dinnerware that ultimately looks too good—or too fun—to use. Whether creating gingerbread plates for a Christmas table or seascape designs for the At the Beach table, Steele says the creativity of Martinez and her team is matched only by their talents as potters and glass artists.

“Tammy has really raised the bar,” Steele says. “The level of craftsmanship at The Little Pottery Shop is extremely high.”

Thanks to the unique pottery and the creative ways in which it is displayed, Tablescapes has become a “must see” event for many, attracting an estimated 5,000 visitors during last year’s three-week run.

With that kind of popularity, who could blame Steele and Martinez if they wanted to keep the glory all to themselves? But as ardent supporters of all the businesses in Shab Row & Everedy Square, they were more than happy to spread the wealth. “We want to keep it fresh and interesting, so this seemed like a great evolution of the event,” Martinez says.

“I didn’t have to do a lot of convincing,” Steele says of her efforts to get other area businesses involved. It also helps that merchants can keep their costs down by trading props to help support the effort. “We beg, borrow and steal our materials,” Steele adds. “Just about everything we use comes from local businesses and we make a real effort to recycle or reuse materials.”

Table That Idea

Steele has been working on her tablescape for weeks now and will disclose only that it will play off the story of Huck Finn, include his raft, and incorporate pottery by Martinez. Down the street, Eileen Foley-Breck, owner of Aspire Boutique, is also keeping plans for her Tablescape design under wraps, but reveals that it will feature Sleeping Beauty in a beautiful gown available from her store and play to the ever-popular themes of love, beauty and magic.

Although it can take many hours to plan and create the tables, that is actually the part that Martinez enjoys the most.

“I love working with the other businesses, artists and designers and thinking outside the box,” she says. “I find that it gets me thinking about new things I’d like to try in my shop.”

That kind of collaboration also makes good business sense. “I think the real benefit is in the cross-marketing we are able to do,” says Steele. “We are able to help our clients see what others have to offer, too. It’s really fun when it all comes together.”

Businesses participating in Tablescapes 2013 include The Loft at AI, The Little Pottery Shop, Accents, Aspire Boutique, Flights of Fancy, Footlights, Frederick Basket Company, Needles & Pins, The Perfect Truffle, Shab Row Tea, Sisters Corner and U Design by HK. Visitors to the shops will receive a Tablescapes tour punch card and can enter to win Shab Row & Everedy Square shopping sprees. The event is free and will feature opening day specials on Sept. 28, including storytimes at Flights of Fancy and costumed fairy tale characters.