You might not have thought that one of 2019’s biggest retail success stories would come from a tiny village near the NSW ski fields, but the owners of Bredbo Christmas Barn say this year has been their busiest yet.
The couple, Neville and Leanne de Smit, are celebrating their 16th year running the Christmas Barn and say they can’t order stock fast enough to meet the demands of customers flocking in from around the country.
They’ve had to open the store an hour earlier each morning as customers were already lining up to purchase from the aisles of elves, Santas, trees and just about everything Christmassy you could imagine.
“It’s been phenomenal. Phenomenal. It has just been crazy. This is our 40th year running a small business, and it’s our best year ever,” Leanne De Smit said.
Located about an hour from Canberra the store has more than 10,000 types of decorations and 100 trees decorated as inspiration for customers.
The fact that it doesn’t have an online store is part of its appeal and means customers make an effort to go and pick up their Christmas supplies.
“It’s still a growing business, and we’re just picking up new customers all the time both from referrals and from highway frontage,” Ms De Smit said.
“We had a chap last year from Adelaide who rang me on a Friday night, talked about things we had, was here by 11 the next morning and shopped for a few hours and then headed back home.”
Canberrans, Sydneysiders, and people from all around NSW are a significant customer base, but Christmas fanatics have been known to travel from as far afield as Mackay in north Queensland.
Staffed by a team of 11, the store is open from the 1st of June through to December 23.
The busiest months are during October and November as customers rush to organise everything before December.
While the stock changes year on year, it’s not influenced by trends.
“You’ll find that there are different trends within department stores where they’ll pick up a colour, where we’ll do every colour, every year.”
It’s hard to beat the classics, and traditional red, gold and green decor is among the most popular.
Artificial trees are hugely popular, but as most people only buy one, they aren’t the bestsellers and lights, ornaments and other tree decorations such as foliage and flowers are the highest selling items.
Despite being so busy this year the de Smits plan to cut back the days they open the store next year from five days to four as they are heading towards retirement.
“We are a very unique store – we’re not like everybody else, we do it our way, and we always have,” Leanne de Smit said.
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