by Susan Harris
Ever walk through Homestead’s mind-blowing Christmas decorations and wonder what’s up with all that? Or perhaps: How do they DO that? Well, I do, so I sat down with the women behind the scenes – buyers Sue Adams and Erin Nowakowski, who’ve been assembling Homestead’s holiday offerings for 14 and 10 years respectively. All that experience shows.
How they Buy
First I needed to know how many trees ARE there? And the answer is between 40 and 50 every year – even more than I would have guessed. And where do they come from? That question takes us to Europe, where Homestead’s Christmas buyers go because Germany is the place for all things Christmas and going there eliminates the middleman. Germany is also where they found people to design the special hand-painted glass ornaments depicting Annapolis, the ones that are so popular in these parts. Actually made in Russia (the plot thickens!), they’re soon to become dated collectors’ items, with just one new ornament each year.
For buyers the biggest event of the year is a really, really big show in Atlanta, where anybody who buys anything that decorates our homes – inside and outside – goes to buy. Erin told me it covers three whole city blocks and is 10 stories tall – unimaginable! How do they do it, I practically gasp, imagining the wear and tear on their feet and the mind-numbing rows of booths filled with products. They tell me the answer is “Good shoes and planning. Focus!” Gotta do it – because Christmas themes are there by the dozens and with the right shoes and focus, these ladies get to choose the coolest ones for us to have right here in Maryland. What fun!
How they Show and Sell
So, what’s popular? This year everyone loves the crystal chandilier tree and the upside-down tree with its undersea ornaments. Then there’s the cute “Garden Friends” tree filled with bugs. And always popular are Mark Roberts’ Fairies, pets, sports, elves, and “birds are huge”. Women, especially decorators, love the color themes – like the all-purple one above. My personal favorites may just be the the kids’ trees, especially the one for ‘tweens -to me, its decorations are a fascinating peek at their world.
Now when I see the array of trees here in Davidsonville, from the most traditional to the most up-to-date, I’m so dazzled by it all that it’s a shock to hear what Sue and Erin think of it most days – that it’s a disaster! A train wreck! You get the idea. They’re dismayed at the condition they find the trees in almost daily, but especially after a big event – Ladies Night comes to mind, or Black Friday – because customers shop right off the trees – rendering them sometimes barren! Really I had no inkling of the trauma inflicted on these charming ladies, who then hurry to re-decorate the trees – again and again.
That happens only because the rest of us can’t resist the ornaments they chose for us in their travels.