If the popular seasonal refrain “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” causes excitement and gets the heart pumping, be advised that community members don’t need to wait for the calendar to change to experience that adrenaline rush. For two area businesses, it really does look a lot like Christmas — every day.  

The Christmas Shop in Blowing Rock at 1125 Main St. is open seven days a week and offers not just Christmas items and ornaments, but a wide variety of merchandise that includes jewelry by Ronaldo, women’s purses and clothing, children’s toys and books. The shop is owned and managed by Felicia Keller, as it has been since 2016. It originally opened in 1996, and Felicia began working there and learning the trade in 2005. It was a great fit and use of her degree in business earned from Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. In addition to Felicia, the shop employs two other full time local women, Jean Walker and Melissa Roark.

The Christmas Shop in Blowing Rock boasts a large selection of flags, of all sizes, and for all seasons. Felicia says that they are one of the best sellers, along with the Christmas ornaments that they personalize for customers. Some of their nativity sets come from the Holy Land and are made from olive wood. For them, the busiest season is during the fall when all “the leaf looker” tourists come to the area, Felicia says.

In addition to the Christmas ornaments and decorations, The Christmas Shop in Blowing Rock also offers a selection of women’s wraps and pajamas. The jewelry by Ronaldo is their second best seller. Many of their items are found in the buyers markets in Atlanta, where they are a frequent attendee. At these shopping outings they can find products from all over the world, although they do carry some items that come from shorter distances like Virginia.

Open six days a week, the Snowy Mountain Christmas Shop is located at 4699 Linville Falls Highway in Crossnore. This shop is a large log cabin structure that was designed and built by Clay Cuthbertson on about 1 acre of family land along Route 221. Owner and manager Bev Cuthbertson says it was always her husbands dream to open such a shop. She retired from her position as a nurse practitioner to help make the dream a reality in 2009.  The shop employs local Heather Shelton as manager and six part time female employees.  

The larger structure at Snowy Mountain is comprised of four sizable rooms, a wood burning fireplace, a small café area with three tables and chairs and a full kitchen.  The shop prepares all their own food offerings including hot and cold beverages, fudge, pound cake, cookies, cupcakes and brittle. Last year during the COVID-19 pandemic the shop and the kitchen remained open and busy, with all of the orders being packaged to go. Customers can always purchase items to go, but the wood burning fire and the small café atmosphere invite the shopper to relax and enjoy the ambiance.

The focal point of the shop is a 12-foot Christmas tree that is loaded with ornaments for purchase. Although most of the year this is an artificial tree, from Oct. 1 until Christmas Eve it is a real Fraser fir from their own Christmas tree fields. Due to the warmth and drying heat produced by the fireplace, this tree gets switched out at least once during that time. All of the decorations remaining on the tree are removed and replaced on the new live tree. Bev admits that she needs the assistance of Clay to make this happen.

For the Snowy Mountain shop, the ornaments are the best sellers, with nativity sets coming in a close second. The shop is also filled with a wide variety of home decorations, inviting the shopper to re-create this magic in their own home. Stockings, tree skirts and wood crafts are all available. They also sell Fraser firs grown on their own acreage, which covers five different growing lots. Customers are also invited to travel to their location just up the road in Crossnore for a choose and cut experience. Arrangements are made within the shop and directions are given.

The Snowy Mountain Christmas shop has also become a popular stop for tour buses coming north from Burke County.  This and other tour bus activity encouraged them to purchase the property across the street and develop the lot for expanded parking. Weekends are particularly busy and the parking is needed.

Each shop is challenged with the work of restocking. For the Christmas Shop in Blowing Rock, large shipments arrive twice a year and require immediate attention. Felicia admits to being concerned about restocking in the future with the rise of shipping costs. If an item is sold out, they are not able to easily replace it. For the Snowy Mountain Christmas Shop, their down time is every year from Christmas Eve until May 1. During that time they do extensive inventory, ordering and restocking.

If ever in need of some Christmas cheer, there are a few local options available. With the help of Felicia and Bev, customers can immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the holiday all year long, and bring a little of it back home with them.

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