Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Year-Round Celebration Yule-Themed Shops Keep Magic Going

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Year-Round Celebration Yule-Themed Shops Keep Magic Going

Article excerpt

It may be hot and humid outside, but it's always time to

celebrate Christmas at a handful of area stores.

These yuletide-themed stores play Christmas carols and sell

tree ornaments, wreaths and decorations yearround.

"There are people who really love Christmas," said Annabelle

Hamachek, owner of Annabelle's Limited & Christmas Shoppe in

Orange Park. "They're always looking for that unique

presentation."

Tucked away off College Drive in a cheery green building,

Annabelle's Christmas Shoppe is a holiday fantasyland with 20

themed sections of trees, lights, wreaths and stockings.

Other regional year-round Christmas stores include Wheeler's

For Christmas, Teepee Town's Christmas Shop and Faraway Places

Holiday Shop, all in St. Augustine, and the Christmas Shop on

the River in Fernandina Beach. In addition, Splash Pools & Spas

on Philips Highway in Jacksonville adds a large selection of

Christmas trees, decorations and gifts from October to January.

Area Christmas businesses cater to both tourists and

collectors.

"You'd be amazed. People collect Christmas year-round," said

Lois Conklin, manager of Christmas Shop on the River. "I never

get tired of it. Every year, we try to find new ornaments."

For some shoppers, collecting designer holiday ornaments

is a hobby associated with the fond memories of Christ mases

past.

"Christmas was always a special time between my self and my

dad," said Chip Meadows, an Indian River County sheriff's deputy

and avid col lector.

Meadows visits Annabelle's 20 or so times a year to add to

his $8,000 collection of Department 56's Snow Village, a

wintry-themed village of quaint, mostly 1950s-style ski resorts,

shops, cabins and churches.

John and Laura Mercadante of the Southside collect pieces of

Department 56's Dickens Village, set around 19th-century London.

"We're both Christmas enthusiasts," said Laura Mercadante.

"It reminds me of my childhood and happy times."

Store owners and operators say Christmas shops put customers

in a festive mood.

"It's a neat business. …

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