Chris Coleman-Smith

Baccarat, Somerset Collection, Troy

somersetAs retailers at the Somerset Collection in Troy prepare for the holiday season, one buying trend is evident. “People are looking for more investment items, be it crystal, jewelry, or chandeliers,” says Chris Coleman-Smith, right, general manager of the Baccarat store at Somerset Collection South. “They’re looking for items that go up in value, or will last a lifetime.” Like many retailers, the Baccarat store does 30 percent of its business during the holiday season. Despite the sluggish economy, Coleman-Smith says her corporate business is up as executives strive to recognize the importance of their clients. “Companies are really going the extra mile to honor anniversaries, retirements, or provide incentives,” she says. To help propel sales for all of its merchants, the Somerset Collection is one of the few malls in the country that oversees its own Christmas display. The elaborate presentation, which is housed in an 18,000-square-foot warehouse in Troy, requires 21 semi loads to deliver. During a two-week installation that began Nov. 1, the south side of the mall is being transformed into an enchanted forest, while the north side becomes Santa’s castle and workshop. Last year, more than 10,000 families visited Santa, some from as far away as Japan and Australia. “People from other countries like to visit Somerset because we have such an elaborate display, and they want to enjoy this very American tradition,” says Mark Fortner, left, exterior facilities director at the Somerset Collection. Fortner and a crew of 14 employees work nearly round-the-clock to set up dozens of angels, sprites, presents, lights, and oversized ornaments. “What we’re really doing is creating lasting memories for parents and their children,” Fortner says. “We also take people’s busy schedules into mind. Everyone who visits gets a pass to come back the same day to visit Santa. That way, there’s no waiting.”

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