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Apparel merchandising and design students dress up store windows

Class assignment calls for collaborations with community store owners

Contact: CMU News

Holiday window-shopping got a face-lift from 30 Central Michigan University students who created new storefront window displays for several area retailers.

Michael Mamp, an assistant professor of apparel merchandising and design, hoped his students would transfer the skills from his class to real-life scenarios. “I want them to gain a greater understanding of what the day to day of a visual merchandiser entails as they develop projects to meet the needs of clients,” he said.

Participating businesses, all contacted and enlisted by Alyson Hill, a senior in apparel merchandising and design, included Art Reach, the CMU Bookstore, the Mole Hole, the Plate Boutique, Scott Harris Salon and Trillium.

Helen Chase, the owner of Trillium Fine Clothing for 34 years, enjoyed working with the students. “Their mission was to interpret the image of my store in the window,” she said. “I decided to leave it completely open to them.”

The students presented Chase with digital sketches before cleaning out the existing displays and designing two windows. “It went very well,” said Chase, who provided feedback on the various designs. “I just let their young ideas flow.”

Zachary Stoner, a sophomore in apparel merchandising and design, worked on the Trillium windows. “Our biggest challenge was imagining the ideas before the presentation and application changes,” he said. “We wanted to understand the store’s best features and display them for the public.”

Stoner said the group incorporated clocks to connect a “forever timeless” theme to a clientele that includes younger and older women.

Melissa deKoster and Kelly Tuls were part of the team that created their own art — two large canvas displays — to hang in the window of Art Reach in downtown Mount Pleasant. “The canvases were painted by filling balloons with paint and throwing darts at them,” deKoster said. “They are fun and colorful and really draw the eye in.”

“We learned that you can create a great display by communicating with a client, as well as having a well-executed plan and good time management skills,” Tuls said.

As for taking a class exercise into the community, Mamp hopes he can repeat the project. “The community was eager to allow our students to participate,” he said. “I’m hoping this will establish long-lasting relationships.”

Chase is open to another go-around. “It was fun working with the CMU students,” she said. “I would do it again next year.” 

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