Biz Beat

Things that go bump in the night bump into Christmas

Employee Teri Estrada inspects an ornament on a Christmas tree at Keller’s in McHenry Village on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015.
Employee Teri Estrada inspects an ornament on a Christmas tree at Keller’s in McHenry Village on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. pguerra@modbee.com

I got to have a bit of a Jack Skellington experience this past week. Unlike the hero of “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” however, my journey didn’t require an overnight hike – I walked a few dozen feet through Keller’s in McHenry Village to go from Halloweentown to Christmastown.

The front of the store is all decked out for All Hallow’s Eve – witches and ghosts peer out from the tables. The back of the store is all Christmas, with lighted trees and garlands and too many ornaments to count.

It’s been this way for a couple of weeks, owner Joyce Keller said.

Now, I am well aware there are a lot of people who groan over the seemingly endless growth of the holiday season. And I understand that it’s a little weird to see all of these Christmas decorations when the temperatures are still in the 90s outside. However, I have to admit – I love it.

I am one of those people who will start listening to holiday music on Nov. 1. And that’s not to give Thanksgiving short shrift – I just kind of lump it in with Christmas as the holidays, a time when everyone seems just a bit nicer and the world is more festive. I worked at Gottschalks department store for several years, and I can remember the complaints when we would start putting Christmas items out around Labor Day.

But that was before Halloween became quite so popular. Keller said in the past five or six years, Halloween has really taken off.

“It used to be that people would have a few things,” she said. “Now they really want to decorate.”

She said Halloween pieces have been flying out the door – on brooms, presumably – keeping the staff constantly restocking the displays.

Some of the designers who have been making Christmas items have branched out into the October holiday as the popularity has increased. Looking around Keller’s, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year, I could see why.

But the winter holiday is still king for retailers of nearly every kind, and Keller’s is no different. By the time Halloween rolls around, Keller said, the display in the front will be transformed into Christmas.

I will be happy to see it.


Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Some sad news to report downtown. The Antique Emporium, which has been a popular stop on J Street for more than two decades, is closing.

Rick Festa, a member of the co-op that started the store 21 years ago, said the store will close either late this year or in early 2016. He said one of the principal members of the co-op had some health problems recently, so they started discussing it.

“We decided that some of us were going to retire ourselves,” Festa said. Other dealers have found spots in shops around town.

“Some are still thinking about what they’re going to do,” Festa said.

The closure will leave a big hole downtown, as well as in the hearts of Antique Emporium fans, several of whom have contacted me.

“It’s been a good run,” Festa said.


And finally, starting this week, you can say hi to Two Old Bags on McHenry Avenue.

That’s not an insult; it’s the name of a secondhand store set to open Wednesday. Two Old Bags is a fundraising effort for the Senior Advocacy Network, a nonprofit organization that runs the Senior Law Project. This is a wonderful effort, spearheaded by attorney Joyce Gandelman, that provides help to older people who might fall prey to elder abuse, financial or otherwise.

Two Old Bags will be staffed by senior volunteers. So it’s an all-around win: providing money for a worthy effort, offering older people an opportunity to contribute their time and effort, and giving people a place to discard gently used furniture, knicknacks and more.

“Give us those old wedding gifts you never used,” Gandelman joked. And, unlike some stores, every day is senior day – customers 60 and older get 10 percent off.

The store is at 1009 McHenry, Suite D. It’s at the intersection with Fairmont Avenue. It will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, to volunteer, or to donate – Gandelman said she will pick up items that don’t find homes in your yard sale – call 209-544-2247 (544-BAGS).

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