Competition heats up for holiday window decorating contest

Let's get ready to rumble!

Competition heats up for holiday window decorating contest

The holidays are here. It’s the season of twinkling lights, snowflakes, and goodwill toward men.

But not all men see it that way.

Clement Brown Jr. is the founder of Three Thirteen, Detroit’s Brand Name Co. retail store, specializing in Detroit pride merchandise and gifts. In 2019, Brown moved from his downtown location to the Livernois Avenue of Fashion. “We were scouting different areas in the city, and the Avenue of Fashion was one of those places. When the opportunity became available, we were very intentional about setting our business there,” said Brown.

That makes Three Thirteen the new kid on the block. So, when the 2020 Livernois Avenue of Fashion Holiday Window Decorating Competition came around, he knew he had to step up his game because directly across the street stood a veteran that had something to prove as well…

Toney Hughes Sr. is the co-owner of Sherwood Forest Art Gallery.  The gallery specializes in custom framing, photo restoration, enlargement, and artwork produced by local artists.  After navigating the ups and downs of the economy, Hughes has no regrets about planting his business on the Ave.  “The support has been tremendous.  We have clients in Detroit, surrounding suburbs, Toledo, even as far away as Toronto.”

According to Hughes, a similar contest was held about three years ago. He claims victory in that competition, making him the reigning champ. However, there is no substantial evidence to support this.

THE RULES are simple for the window decorating competition. Participants should create a family-friendly display. It should be creative and festive. An esteemed panel of judges will make its decision based on presentation, workmanship, creativity, and the effective use of colors and materials. In other words, you must come correct to win.

Brown is more than a business owner; he also considers himself a creative. But before he committed to taking on this challenge, he forgot one thing, he’s not big on Christmas decorations. This posed a significant problem. So, he had just one option, break out his secret weapon: his mom. “She was up to the task, and she’s been putting in that work to make sure we show up.”

The Three Thirteen window took on a clean yet elegant approach. Customers will be floored by dangling ornaments that sparkle amid the Christmas lights. Snow on the window ledge and wrapped gifts set the mood for the holiday season. Brown is very pleased with how the display turned out.  “It’s dope. You gotta check it out.”

As for Hughes, he decided to infuse his decorations with the existing art already in his window. He also chose a theme that he hopes with resonate with customers and judges. “We have a Christmas tree with lights and we’ve also incorporated a Black Lives Matter sign.” Onlookers will also find a Black angel, Black Santa, and a Black Mrs. Claus. “We were trying to create an ethnic feel,” said Hughes.

In all, 32 businesses are participating in this year’s competition, and all have an equal chance to win.  The goal of the contest is to drive foot traffic to the storied shopping strip.

Ronald Copeland is the executive director of the Motor City Business Round Table (MCBR), the group that initiated the competition. MCBR is an organization providing education and training to business professionals. The group, which was founded in 2018, meets every month covering topics that are challenging for entrepreneurs.

After a difficult year for small businesses, Copeland knew that they were struggling, and he wanted to do something to help. “We learned years ago, that if we do special activities and events, we could draw people to the avenue,” said Copeland. He also saw this as an opportunity to show off the new streetscape and new businesses on the Avenue of Fashion.

Copeland says that small businesses are an important asset in our communities and should be supported year-round. “When you shop local, shop small, you build an economic base that will give us the strength to withstand any economic challenge in our community.”   

The Holiday Window Decorating Competition will run from November 27 through December 18 with the winners announced on December 23.  Prizes include $500, $350, $150 for first, second, and third place respectively. Winners also receive something perhaps more valuable – bragging rights.  

Though the rivalry between Brown and Hughes is all in fun, they both have words as the competition winds down:  

“The gallery has been collecting holiday ornaments for a long time, but I think our fresh look is going to give them a run for their money,” said Brown.

And Hughes still touts the gallery’s reigning title (which is still undocumented). “Ali was the greatest of all time, everybody was gunning for him too,” said Hughes.

Window decorations will stay up throughout the holiday season for shoppers to enjoy.