BANGOR — If a gift-wrapped ornament appears beneath the Christmas tree and not upon it this Dec. 25, credit shoppers at Patrick’s Hallmark in Bangor, where “ornaments are the biggest seller in our stores at this time of year,” said Patricia Hannan-Smith.
She and her husband, Rick, own the Patrick’s Hallmarks at the Bangor Mall and the Broadway Shopping Center. Christmas marks a particularly busy time at both stores, and for 2011, specific gifts bring shoppers through the doors.
No. 1 on shoppers’ lists are Hallmark ornaments, in some 300 designs that fill a display wall. Each holiday season, Hallmark introduces new designs stamped with the year. According to Hannan-Smith, parents often buy a particular ornament — a Barbie, the Penguins of Madagascar, a Santa scene — for their children one Christmas, then a different ornament the next Christmas. By the time they empty the parental nests, the children have collected meaningful ornaments that they will always associate with particular Christmases.
Among the other children’s gifts that Christmas shoppers are snapping up this holiday season, “‘Jingle’ is hot, hot, hot,” Hannan-Smith said.
Her stores carry the Jingle Interactive Storybook and Story Buddy, a children’s book and stuffed animal based on Jingle the Husky Pup. Hallmark markets several similar Story Buddys, each programmed to start “talking” as the book reader mentions specific words; Jingle, for example, “barks” a Christmas song. The Hallmark Channel recently premiered “Jingle All the Way,” an animated program featuring Jingle.
Also popular with parents are recordable storybooks, with 14 titles currently available. As a parent or grandparent reads the lines printed on each page, the storybook records the voice; later, a child can turn the pages and listen as that familiar voice recites the story. Last December, Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” was popular; the book remains in demand in 2011.
Other gifts target adults. Vera Bradley bags and accessories are popular with women; so are sterling silver Troll Beads, made in New Jersey and placed on bracelets. Each Troll Bead represents a particular concept: love (a Heart Ball), fine drink (Wine Harvest), and sibling relationships (the intertwined Three Siblings, which Hannan-Smith has on her bracelet), for example.
“Every woman’s bracelet is different,” said Sheila Webb, assistant manager at the Broadway Shopping Center store. “With the beads she buys, she tells a story of her family.”
Collectibles, of course, are popular every Christmas. This year, “in demand” collectibles include:
• Byers’ Choice carolers, figures hand-made by a Pennsylvania family.
• Snow Babies, figurines that Hannan-Smith described as “just adorable. They have meaning to parents.”
• Willow Tree angels, “one of our top three lines,” she said. Each angel represents a human emotion or a specific stage in a person’s life, from a father with two daughters to a grandmother holding a young grandchild. “People collect” Willow Tree angels “and give them to their friends or relatives,” Hannan-Smith said.
Adult gift ideas range from Yankee Candles and Maine-made jewelry and pottery to Stonewall Kitchen gifts and specialty foods to creations by Bangor artist Collette King. Plush animals and Webkinz are other gifts that appeal to children.
On this particular weekday, shoppers were browsing among the Christmas card racks. As a Hallmark Gold Crown store, Patrick’s “has the largest selection of cards available from Hallmark,” Hannan-Smith said.
At both locations, business has been brisk this holiday season, she indicated. The Bangor Mall store, located next to the mall’s main entrance, opened at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, and customers quickly flocked inside, Hannan-Smith said. “Our customer base is all the way to Canada; we have many Canadian customers, and many, many people who come down from the County.”
The Broadway Shopping Center store was Libby’s Hallmark for 30 years until Hannan-Smith bought it in 1999. “We have an established clientele here,” she said. “We know many of our customers by name. A lot of men shop here; they come in so often, we know what their wives like.”
Patrick’s Hallmark will sponsor a Men’s Night at both stores from 5-9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15. Free gift-wrapping will be available for men purchasing gifts that night.