By Elizabeth Wickham
Christmas comes but once a year, unless you’re visiting year-round Christmas stores. For this article, six owners and managers of specialty Christmas-themed businesses discussed their top selling items and who shops at their stores.
Rick Griego, owner of The Shop — A Christmas Store, explained his unique best-sellers. “We’re in Santa Fe, N.M., and our top sellers are our hand-crafted items that are made locally for us. They are crafted out of clay, wood, tin and all sorts of mediums. They are predominately in the Native American and Hispanic traditions.”
Griego said that in his 1,800-square-foot store glass ornaments also sell well, probably because they’re very nostalgic.”People seem to be going back to that old-style German, Eastern European style of figurines.”
The Shop attracts a wide variety of customers. “We’ve been in business for close to 44 years and we have never targeted a particular audience. We are welcoming to everybody,” Griego said. “We treat each person equally. We don’t care if you come in with $1 or $1 billion, you’re going to be treated the same. Anyone who comes through our doors is treated like a family member.”
Located in Manteo, N.C., The Christmas Shop has been a respected business in the Outer Banks community for more than 50 years. According to Shelia Hinkle, assistant store manager, “We have a roomful of coastal ornaments, like local lighthouses that are top sellers. I believe that is because we live in a resort surrounded by ocean and water.”
Hinkle said, “Besides our ornaments and Christmas items, we are a general store with home decor, jewelry and a Halloween department. We have a collection of Santa Clauses and nutcrackers that do well also. We sell Byer’s Choice and Marc Roberts collectibles, too.”
The Christmas Shop is 15,000 square feet filled with Christmas decor and unique gifts. “Our primary demographic is female between the ages of 35 and 60,” Hinkle said. “A lot of what draws the women to the store is home decor. We do carry ornaments that are hard to find in other Christmas shops. We have jewelry that is specifically targeted to that age group along with the collectibles that women like.”
It’s hard to pinpoint a top seller according to Janice Murdough, owner of Murdough’s Christmas Barn in Robesonia, Pa. “This place is huge. We have so many things that sell well. We do very well with glass ornaments, Byers Choice Carolers, all the greens, lights. We sell everything Christmas. For our Stone Harbor, N.J. store, Murdough’s Christmas Shop, we sell lighthouse ornaments and beach-themed things, many with the name of Stone Harbor and Avalon on them.” Other items that sell well are ornaments that represent professions, careers and hobbies, Murdough said.
“Our demographic is everybody. Grandmas bring in the grandkids and we have young families. They may say, ‘My grandma brought me in when I was a kid, so I’m bringing my kids now.’ We’ve been in business for more than 60 years,” Murdough explained. “It’s such a tradition in this area. Many customers say it’s not Christmas until we’ve made our trip to Murdough’s. It’s a sense of family and the continuation of tradition here in the German Pennsylvania Dutch area.”
Murdough said she has no idea of the square footage of her store. “We’re in a barn built in 1879 and there’s an addition attached, so it’s a lot of space. We opened in 1953.”
“We are known for our Christmas trees,” said Judy Singleton, owner of Santa’s Closet in West Columbia, S.C. They have a selection of more than 500 trees each Christmas season. “We also sell Mark Roberts fairy collectibles and a lot of floral and higher-end ornaments.”
According to Singleton, “We have been here for so long and people know we carry the nicer things. We finished our 33rd Christmas season in January.” Although, Santa’s Closet is open seasonally, they offer year-round services to customers who wish to contract with them. “We have services where we set up and take down trees in people’s homes and we can store them. We also repair lights and that really helps people who want to buy their lights here.” Other services include creating custom holiday decor that fits people’s personal styles.
“We do a lot of raisin garland, plus we do a lot of decorating, hand-made bows and things like that. This is our secondary business to our main business which is outdoor furniture and is also seasonal,” Singleton explained.
Their demographic is the greater Columbia South Carolina area, which is a 50 to 75-mile radius that includes a lot of smaller cities around the capital city of Columbia. Singleton said although they have some men who shop at Santa’s Closet, it’s mostly women, from 25 to 75 years old. She said, “Santa’s closet is about 5,000 square feet of our entire warehouse, which is 20,000 square feet.”
Barbe Jenkins-Gibson, owner of Christmas Cottage said, “My best-sellers would be glass ornaments because I’m a traditional buyer. We also have a sizable Halloween collection. We carry Thanksgiving and we touch a little bit on each holiday, but not heavily like we do for Christmas.”
She explained that since she’s in Lincoln City, Ore., “I’m in a tourist area. I’m a block off the beach on the Oregon Coast Highway. Our customers come from everywhere. We get a lot of international visitors as well as people from across the nation. It’s a favorite tourist place because the ocean is so beautiful here.”
She serves her clientele in her 3,000-square-foot store with “a lot of wonderful customer service. We pride ourselves on that and reliability. We are open 363 days a year, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. We never open late or close early. Our customers know they can come here no matter what and we’ll be open. We have been in business for 45 and a half years.” Jenkins-Gibson opened the business originally because “she didn’t want to be a secretary anymore.”
Roger Lund, owner of The Christmas Haus, in New Oxford and Gettysburg, Pa. said, “We have an equal split in our sales between glass ornaments and wooden items like pyramids, Schwibogens, nutcrackers and smokers. We sell far more glass ornaments than wood items, but the price points are very different, so, when measured on balance, they equal each other in sales volume.”
In addition to those items, he said that in their 2,000-square-foot Gettysburg store,”We also sell a large selection of lace ornaments. They are the perfect little inexpensive gift to put in a card to a friend or to give out to associates at work, in social clubs or at church.”
Lund explained that “Gettysburg is equidistant between Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. (and its Virginia/Maryland suburbs) and Pittsburgh. We have long been a ‘getaway’ community whether for a day trip or a long weekend. These customers are better traveled, more educated and have more disposable income than the regular tourist.”