Should I Use Alcohol In My Staging Projects?

I’ve been asked the question about using alcohol in staging projects quite often, and my answer is always the same:  IT DEPENDS.  Yeah, I know, I should be a politician since I’m not really answering the question, but let me give you some ideas as to what I believe it depends on, then you can consider me for public office.  Or better yet, your stager.  

Most importantly, I believe you should stage TO the demographic of the buyer that will be interested in that specific property that is being staged.  

To do this, you should look at the neighborhood first:  

    • Is it a family-centric neighborhood?  
    • Arts district?  
    • Collegiate vicinity?  
    • Religious corridor?
    • Young singles & marrieds?
    • Geriatric community?

You can tell a lot simply by driving the neighborhood and looking at things like the foot traffic – are there younger or older people out walking / jogging?  Are there kids riding bikes in the street?  What sort of shopping is nearby?  Are there sports flags hanging from the porch flagpoles?  Are there neighborhood signs up advertising local events and what type?  And what is the financial state of the people who live there?  Are there broken down vehicles parked in the front yard, because you don’t want to stage with Pabst Blue Ribbon to meet that demographic.

You also need to review the layout and space of the property you’re staging.  Is there a pool?  A game room?  How is the outdoor area set up for grilling, etc.?  If it’s a very small space that doesn’t look like it would host a great party, then you wouldn’t want to set the stage (pun intended) for a party because buyers will get conflicting messages.  Is there a built in wine rack?  What about a wine cellar?  

So let’s say, you’re in a neighborhood of young singles & marrieds, that is very close to night life and hip shopping venues, I’d say you can probably use some liquor in your stagings and not offend anybody.  Especially if the property has a pool and a killer patio or a rooftop deck or a huge kitchen that opens into a great room with a big screen TV – get the drift?

Now, you don’t want to go crazy displaying a nightclub level of alcohol inventory, but you can set up a small vignette that provides the idea of having some fun in the space.  Here is one that we staged this week…we’ve got two liquor bottles, and lots of glasses…plus the lemons in the beverage dispenser to add some color and height.  I don’t think this is offensive, even to a tee-totaler.  And once you walked past this set up, the next room you would see was the sunroom and the view to the awesome pool area, so we’re creating the image of a LIFESTYLE that comes with this house.  

Staged Bar Area by Michelle Lynne

Staged Bar Area by Michelle Lynne

Ultimately, you also have to wrestle with your own beliefs and value system, and I’m not saying staging with or without alcohol will make or break the sale of the house so you don’t need to FEEL that if you don’t put alcohol into a property, you’re doing the client a disservice.  I live in the middle of the Bible Belt and could probably talk to half a dozen of my highly successful local colleagues in the staging industry and they would all have a varied opinion on it.  This is just my take.  Feel free to leave your thoughts below!