As we like to say in our house, Christmas is coming!
Southeastern Michigan has a lot of small towns. But, there is only one Frankenmuth.
I like to make an annual day trip to Frankenmuth to soak in the German tradition, eat some fried chicken (and fudge), and prepare for my very favorite holiday. Speaking of my favorite holiday…. today is October 25 - exactly two months from Christmas Day. If you’re in the market for Christmas gifts, there is no better place to find them than in Frankenmuth. Shop after shop have attractive choices.
However, one store stands above all others. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is the (self-proclaimed) World’s Largest Christmas Store - and it is a sight to see. Spread over 27 acres, Bronner’s has 1,500 parking spots. (The store itself encompasses 2.2 acres or 1.7 football fields.) Close to 100,000 lights line a half mile leading up to the store. It’s said that Bronner’s daily electric bill exceeds $1,250.
Just think about it.... A single store that personalizes 400,000 ornaments a year. More than 300 fully decorated, themed trees, always on display. Upwards of 50,000+ different ornaments and gifts. Bronner’s is not only huge, it’s also a tourist attraction. In fact, visitors buy more than 2 million ornaments every year.
Bronners opened in 1945. It has always been a family enterprise. The family has provided leadership and management from day one - especially Wally Bronner and wife, Irene. Both have passed in recent times, but everything about Bronner's moves forward. Wally Bronner had a dream, and he made it come to life in a single store in a rural town - staffed with neighbors and friends. His family continues the tradition. What an economic engine for a small community.
Back in the day, Wally was all over the store in his red blazer. Everyone knew him. He was never too busy to talk with customers. In fact, that was both his job and his passion. I know, because I had a long conversation with him on one of my visits. He was truly a retailing genius.
We’ll be going to Frankenmuth very soon for our annual trip - three years late, thanks to COVID. Karen has strict instructions not to buy any more Christmas stuff. We’re trying to downsize our own overstocked Christmas inventory.
I can’t wait to see the must have items that will be coming back to Ohio this year. We don’t need a thing, but we’ll get it anyway.
Frankenmuth is an oasis. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is the leader of the pack.
Merry early Christmas. See you in Frankenmuth.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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