These shops specialize in holiday decor
By Ann Smith
At this time of year, people get jazzed about holiday decorating. No surprise there! It’s a little harder to wrap one’s mind around the fact that folks in flip flops were shopping along the lakeshore for ornaments all summer long.
“Some people just love Christmas. There’s the spirit of hope that it brings — the excitement of what’s to come,” says Leslie Howard, the manager of Tuck’s, a year-round shop in Saugatuck that sees a steady stream of customers delighted to shop in July for December decorations. “A lot of times people might pop in just to have that one moment of a hope for the future.”
Some enthusiasts give an ornament each year to members of their families. Others have large collections and are always looking. “They’re adding to the six trees that they have with different themes,” says Howard (who puts up 15, including a peacock tree). “I shop anywhere I can — if there’s a Christmas store open, you better believe I’m going to pop in.”
Two shops in Holland stand shoulder to shoulder with Tuck’s as destinations for those in search of something new to make their home even brighter for the holidays. Here’s a bit about all three.
Van Wieren Hardware
How big a deal in Holland is Van Wieren Hardware’s yearly display of decorated Christmas trees?
“People started calling about it right after Labor Day,” reports owner Deb Van Wieren Axce.
Her staff is assembling 50 Bethlehem pre-lit artificial trees in various heights this year, and will decorate about a dozen of them. They’ll probably finish by mid-November. Each tree has a theme — like kids’ sports, hunting and fishing, hobbies, and camping. Around them are baskets and bins of those ornaments and lots more, many at low prices popular with, as Axce puts it, “grandparents who come in to buy an ornament for each one of their eight grandchildren.” And then there are strings of lights in colors you didn’t know they came in, and garlands, and faux birds and floral picks to tuck into wreaths. And more.
Van Wieren’s started small with trees around 1970. “It just kept expanding,” says Axce. And at her house? “We used to decorate a lot, but now — no.
I have enough here.”
645 Douglas Ave., Holland
Holland Clock Company
Brightly painted nutcrackers at the front of Holland Clock Company signal Christmas for folks with northern European heritage (or a fondness for “The Nutcracker” ballet). Step into the shop in downtown Holland and it’s immediately clear they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There are Christmas pyramids — multi-level tabletop structures with candle-powered revolving floors — in various sizes, of various scenes, and all (like most things in the shop) hand-carved in Germany. Arrayed along one wall are 3-D scenes carved from panels of pale wood: forest nooks, nativity scenes, sledders and cottages and ridges of pines accented by lights that illuminate windows and trees. Colorful wooden ornaments and ceramic ones in Dutch style hang on racks.
Proprietor Dan Winebrenner doesn’t do much advertising. Having a front window does the trick. “People walk by, see something, and they have to have it,” he says.
The store also carries German beer steins and, not surprisingly, clocks, including cuckoo clocks with weights that look like pine cones. Maybe those say Christmas to you and yours, too. Cheers.
39 E. 8th St., Holland
Tuck’s of Saugatuck
Try to envision six thousand holiday ornaments. Got that? — you’re looking at Tuck’s in downtown Saugatuck, which sparkles like nobody’s business. Does someone on your holiday shopping list collect ornaments from a famous firm like Kurt S. Adler or Old World Christmas? Would your tree shine brighter this year if you added Birkenstocks, or a (liquid) glass of wine, or nachos, or Bernie Sanders in his mittens? Can do, can do, can do, can do, can do.
Collectors make a beeline for the shop all year. “Heartfully Yours, Christopher Radko — we are one of four stores in the entire country that is carrying the entire line,” says store manager Leslie Howard, “so that’s a real honor.” Some drop-in customers invest in high-end items, too, while others peruse voluminous racks of traditional and quirky ornaments with less heady price tags. In early fall, vintage ornaments from the 1960s and ’70s were in stock, just acquired by the owner on one of his excursions. “Every day there seems to be something new,” Howard says.
252 Butler St., Saugatuck