Recession? Not at the Christmas shops

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Monday, December 01, 2008

SOUTH OF THE NORTH POLE For Lindy Simmons and Judy Lynch every day is Christmas. Their Forever Christmas Gifts & More shop is open year-round and sits in the heart of Christmas Valley on a stretch of Christmas Valley Highway in Lake County.

With the holiday shopping season expected to be a bust, Simmons believes that the slump won’t take the merry out of Christmas. The one niche market that could prove to be recession- proof is the Christmas shop industry.

Simmons admits the summer was slow because of gas prices. The store is located nearly 100 miles away from everything and depends greatly on its community, she says. “But now it’s our boom time of year.”

The success of a Christmas shop really comes down to how much money people are willing to spend. At Sleighbells in Sherwood, general manager Rob Vastine knows shoppers are cutting out the extras this year — wreaths, garlands and more expensive trees. But he says no matter what, people will always buy the glittery, attention-getting gifts like jewelry, and mechanical animals that sing and dance.

“People always say ‘Oh, I know someone who will just love this,’” Vastine says.

Surprisingly, what keeps Forever Christmas profitable is not its holiday items but fabric sales. Simmons says she’s seeing a growing trend in quilt making: a sign that people may be spending less, but giving gifts of more sentimental value.

“It’s a tough time right now,” Vastine says. “But it’s not impossible.”

This year Sleighbells is pushing the theme of a traditional Christmas. That means real trees and fewer imported plastic items. “And sleigh bells, obviously,” Vastine adds.              

CHRIS MILLER


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