While the windows are shrouded with craft paper at the newly built Christmas Place store in Mt. Juliet to keep out the too curious until it opens June 15, a sneak-peek-tour inside the cavernous space reveals a magical world that celebrates everything Christmas year-round.
In the making for more than two years on North Mt. Juliet Road, the 12,000-square-foot store has finally come to reality, and every inch of the space is filled to the brim with flocked Christmas trees, dozens of Christmas-inspired vignettes designed for sale and show. Life-sized images of pure white deer, polar bears, rabbits and other nature creatures blend into real-sized drums, giant jingle bells and whispering angels. Even farmhouse Christmas roosters are showcased to create a country Christmas theme.
“This is the second location of the Christmas Place, with the original in Pigeon Forge that is quite a bit larger and opened 35 years ago this month,” said store manager Cody Myers, who conducted an exclusive tour of the store recently.
He said the Mt. Juliet location will open June 15 and hoped to time it around the original store’s anniversary date.
“We want it to be just right and everything perfect, so we can’t yet say an exact date,” Myers said. “...We will open in June, but we will continue to decorate and let everyone see how things flourish. People like to see it in practice and ask questions and get ideas.”
It’s magic in the making, indeed.
Owned by Toby and Karen Barnes, along with co-owners daughter, Kristin, and son-in-law, Mark Jackson, the $3 million investment will be a destination for people from all across the region.
To make the June 15 targeted soft opening, employees are busy at work every day, decorating trees, placing thousands of items on hundreds of shelves and prepping Santa’s House for the real deal for youngsters to whisper their Christmas lists.
“This huge structure will be snowcapped, and the roof will have Santa and his sleigh,” said Myers.
The Christmas Place’s top creative director is Lindsey Netherland. She spruced, placed, moved and prepped multiple spaces within the shrouded building. She’s been with the company for seven years.
“The process for this store started two years ago,” she said. “I’ve been designing and decorating in real time since this past March.”
She worked in the “Let it Snow” vignette last week.
“Yes, we want people to walk through the doors and be transported,” she said.
Netherland said the store evokes childhood memories and family traditions. Nearly everything seen is for sale.
“While mid-June is our soft opening, and people can begin shopping, products come pouring in starting in July, and we will still be in full decorating and showcasing mode,” she said.
Myers said the store isn’t closed before the Christmas season to decorate full force, but rather the doors are kept open.
“People love the interaction,” he said.
During other important seasons, it may produce a pop up area such as a bunny theme at Easter or Home of the Brave in July. But, it’s an authentic Christmas bow all year-round.
Myers said he will be at the store constantly before it officially opens June 15 and after. He lives in Nashville, but he’s spent the majority of his time of late overseeing the massive project. An 11-year employee at the Incredible Christmas Place, he was hired as the Mt. Juliet manager in February.
Plans are for a multi-lane space for tourist buses and about 65 parking spaces. The four-story bell tower is icing on the Christmas cake. It will play holiday music year-round. Myers noted employees will engrain themselves in the local community and provide live performances at times, showcase a capella groups, carolers and local bands.
“We will reach out to the schools to get their choral groups in here we hope,” he said.
Customers can buy flocked or unflocked artificial trees unique to their store, and a large variety of modern and vintage Christmas lights will be for sale.
“There are a variety of types of trees, some are even vintage looking,” said Myers.
Old-fashioned bubble lights will be for sale. Indoor and outdoor lights and all types of garlands have their own special section in the store.
He pointed to a vignette of dozens of Christmas stockings and tree toppers.
“We offer monograming on the stockings and the ornaments,” he said.
The store’s own designer service can create dreamy, customized wreathes, said Netherland.
Real elves are busy transforming the unique structure in the 3-acre Sellar’s Station development across from Sellar’s Funeral Home. And, with just a handful of days before the storybook Christmas setting is revealed, all is calm, organized chaos inside.
“We are excited to start our magic in the making for the community and beyond,” said Myers.