The Twelve Months of Christmas came about in 2002 in a very unique way. Randy and Pat Hutchinson were on vacation in Las Vegas when Pat noticed a panel truck advertising a Christmas store on it. She immediately looked them up and made plans to visit during their stay. When she went, she ended up browsing the shop for over four hours. Upon leaving the store, she thanked the owners and told them how much she enjoyed the shop. They cheerfully suggested that Pat take a trip to Atlanta and visit AmericasMart.
She described her first trip to Atlanta as “dying and going to heaven.” While wandering in a showroom, a rep got an order form out. Pat was planning on “just looking” but ended up placing a substantial order for a non-existent business.
She then went on to place orders in many other showrooms having no idea what she was doing. She said, “Proof of that came when a semi pulled up to my storefront several months later with cases of ornaments. I thought I was ordering boxes, not cases.” And that’s how The Twelve Months of Christmas came to be.
Over the past 16 years, with Pat’s passion for Christmas and decorating and Randy’s love of construction, they’ve built a thriving business that brings joy not only to them but to all who enter their over-the-top seasonal Christmas store.
They have steadily worked to expand their space, from their first year in a 2,000 square-foot building to the current three-story, 13,000 square foot building, which is a veritable Christmas explosion on all three levels. Pat and Randy continually work on improving the building and their eye-catching displays within.
It’s clear that Pat is genuinely filled with love for Christmas and the products they carry. And she has a real interest in getting to know her customers and helping them make their home beautiful for Christmas. Her favorite compliment is when she hears how “homey” or “warm” the store feels.
The Hutchinsons just completed a very successful 16th season.
Q&A with Pat Hutchinson
Smart Retailer (SR): You’re unique in that you’re only open three months a year. What led you to make that decision?
The Twelve Days of Christmas (TDC): We’re open only three months so we can preserve the excitement and anticipation of the season. It makes the experience of visiting that much more enjoyable. You may wonder, then, why the name is The Twelve Months of Christmas. The name actually came before the business! We decided the name before the full concept of the actual business was formed.
SR: So, what do you do the other nine months of the year?
TDC: We attend Market in Atlanta to buy awesome Christmas stuff, plan new layouts for the store, rearrange fixtures and displays, clean, paint, repair as necessary, receive shipments, open, inspect, and tag merchandise, and create displays throughout 13,000 square feet. Of course, we goof off a little and go on vacation. Then we receive more shipments, open, inspect, and tag more merchandise, create more displays, and decorate tree after tree after tree. Then, we anxiously anticipate opening day. Believe it or not, we have enough work to keep us busy.
SR: What shows do you attend as a buyer? Do you have a favorite, and why?
TDC: Every January, we attend AmericasMart in Atlanta. Vendors from around the country and around the world have showrooms with their products on display. It’s a week-long adventure of exploring to find new, unique, high-quality merchandise to share with our customers. Orders are placed in the showroom and scheduled for delivery throughout the year. We especially love that the hotels are connected and so many of the Christmas showrooms are condensed into one general area.
SR: What are three of your favorite product lines, and why?
TDC: Byers’ Choice Carolers, Karen Didion Santas, Egyptian Museum Glass Ornaments, and Old World Christmas are four of my favorites. The products are high quality, terms are wonderful, and the companies are easy to work with. What else could we ask for?
SR: What’s the best idea you ever had, and how did that work out for you?
TDC: This year for the first time we are trying something new and it seems to be working extremely well for us. Because our traffic is slow on Wednesdays, we decided to reel shoppers in with a special offer. It is working so well and the customers are loving it. On Wednesday we have one product line from which we allow our customers to choose any piece they want for half price. The amount they save is up to them. They swarm in on Wednesday to see what the special is for that day. We let them know all lines to be included, but not which week it will be offered. Phone calls are not permitted to find the product of the day. We have a big family of Wednesday shoppers now, and it’s so much fun for everyone.
SR: What are you most passionate about? How do you inject that passion into your business?
TDC: My store is my passion and I am passionate about Christmas. I love the music, the aromas, and the uplifted spirits. I am also passionate about beauty. Our store displays are awesome (according to comments we hear from customers). Our products are absolutely amazing. One gentleman reluctantly came in with his wife, and as they checked out, he said, “This is better than a parts store” and a little girl said it was “magical!” Oftentimes, we hear that it is the nicest store they have been in.
SR: What traits do you have that you think helps you succeed in this business?
TDC: I have always tried living by the “Golden Rule.” I truly believe that is a big part of my success in business. I have never formally studied business, but I do read all the trade magazines I receive.