It’s been about three months since the county’s first and only year-round Christmas store, Christmas in Vantucky, opened in Hazel Dell.
The family-owned business is evolving, growing and dealing with its own issues, and founder Koleena Roth and her son, Brandon Culp, are enjoying their “adventure,” as Culp calls it. Occasionally, Culp’s son, Aidyn Culp, 12, will apprentice at the store after school by ringing up customers.
Many of the products at the store, at 6202 N.E. Highway 99, are back-ordered and stuck in shipping containers, but the inventory is growing; there are new ornaments and gift-type items in stock.
“I’m willing to bet if we tour the crates in L.A., we’d find a lot more of our stuff,” Culp said.
One supplier called Roth and said she’s not getting part of her order because the ship carrying their goods capsized, she said.
“We’re waiting for white snowman lanterns,” said Roth, who exudes a cheerfulness to customers entering the store. “We’ve been trying to get them since November.”
Shipping costs are rising too, and most of the suppliers are charging 4 to 8 percent more on all orders, Roth said. In some cases, shipping is four times as expensive.
Still, the business has become profitable, Roth said.
“Over the last six weeks, we turned the corner,” she said. “The store is definitely paying for itself and coming out ahead.”
The store opened after Roth and Culp, who own an education company for contractors, rented the space for classes. The pandemic hit, causing them to shift all their business to Zoom, so they were left with rent on an empty space.
The owners are also taking customers’ advice. Roth recalls a woman coming into the store and recommending Christmas lights in the windows.
“A little lady came in, looked at me and said, ‘Honey, I gotta tell you something. You need lights in the window. You need this thing lit up. People can’t see it.’ So I got lights,” Roth said with a laugh.
Culp added some decorations to the store, including a red-painted milk can with the “Christmas in Vantucky” logo on it.
“We have it sitting on a china cabinet, and people want to buy it, but it’s not for sale,” Roth said. “One guy wanted the bottle, I said no, no, no, I can’t sell that. That one’s really special.”
The man asked Roth to start making Christmas decorations with the company name and logo on them. A few customers have requested that.
“We’re now working on that,” Roth said.
As for the months after Christmas, there are plenty of unknowns, but Culp, store manager, said he plans to bring in gifts and decorations for other holidays, including Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and birthday supplies. But Christmas will be the overriding theme year-round, he said.
“So many people are coming in with the same question: They want to know if we’re going to stay open all year,” Roth said. “We say ‘Yes! We’ll be here!’ ”