By Zsarlene B. Chua
IT WAS — at first — a somber affair as while guests happily greeted one another, there was an undercurrent of disbelief and more than a little dread since Rustans’ Christmas event was held a few hours after businessman Donald Trump won the US Presidential elections. There were more than a few “God help us all” muttered while people downed glasses of white wine and champagne — this was while everyone were surrounded by Christmas trees, lights, and carols.
But after a few hours, the undercurrents were replaced with the good ‘ol holiday cheer as Rustans Department Store unveiled this year’s Christmas windows and Christmas offerings with the theme, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year at Rustans.”
“The theme is ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ because it’s more relevant now in today’s world where we tend to disconnect with the values that’s nice to reconnect with on Christmas. There’s so much polarization and so much conflict around this,” Donnie Tantoco, president of Rustans Supercenters, Inc., told BusinessWorld shortly after the launch held at Rustans Makati on Nov. 9.
“It’s not just about product and decoration, it’s really immersing ourselves… and coming out with a concept that’s authentic and that will resonate and surprise our customers and, really — while the world is going a little crazy — anchor them in the spirit of Christmas,” he added.
The event saw the five deparment store windows facing Ayala Avenue decked out in holiday colors and depicting fanciful carnival-like designs including gilded birdcages and bejeweled elephants.
“The planning and conceptualization, the buying for that, starts very, very early. You don’t get this quality no matter how many times you do it or how great you are at it — this quality takes good planning with sufficient lead time,” Mr. Tantoco explained, and while he declined to reveal how much each window cost to design, he said that it was a “worthy investment.”
Planning for Christmas at Rustans typically starts in January and they finalize things “in the middle of the year,” he said.
And it is all done in-house as everything that is “important to Rustans” is not outsourced.
“It’s a worthy investment. This is who we are, what Rustans is Christmas and we already are an ingrained and instilled part of Christmas of our customers: they expect to come here, but they also expect a different version of what we did last year,” Mr. Tantoco said before adding that every year there is a need to outdo themselves.
(Last year, the windows became a train with different scenes in each one.)
“We have to outdo ourselves. No one, I believe, comes close but we’re really trying to outdo ourselves. We’re getting our ideas, but at the end of the day, it has to be true to who we are,” Mr. Tantoco explained.