This holiday season, at both the store and the Christkindlmarket reflected a renewed optimism in regards to peoples feelings about the economy. The holiday spirit was much more relaxed and jovial and that wasn’t just the effects of the gluhwein. Gluhwein is a German hot mulled spiced wine and it does flow pretty freely at the market.
I know people think we’re crazy for standing outside at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago from Thanksgiving through Christmas. But after so many years in retail, spending the entire Holiday Season in our store it’s fun to actually but out experiencing it. Linc & I often reflect on the laughs we’ve had with people who would stop by the booth. Faces that over the last number of years have become familiar.
As the market kicks of either the day before Thanksgiving or on Thanksgiving Day our first laughs tend to come from the variety of Turkey hatspeople sport for the holiday. That first long weekend brings out extended families who often have out of town visitors with them. We sell and play the Putumayo holiday cd’s in our booth so it’s come to see someone dancing past us to the sounds of Ray Charles singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Big Al Carson with Lars Edegran & his Santa Claus Revelers belting out Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.
Every year we get people who look at us and say “and where in Germany are you from?”. You see, we’re told that the Christmas market in Germany that this one is modeled after is even more diverse than Chicago’s. At our Christkindlmarket you’ll find vendors who not only come all the way from Germany but also from Russia, Ukraine, Nepal, Bethlehem, Ecuador, Ireland and many more spots from around the globe.
There will be days that it rains all day and you would not believe the massive amount of people who grab their umbrellas and head on over to the market. We’ve commented that we know why we’re there but why do they come out in such crappy weather. We’ve been told by folks from Iowa, Florida…. that every year they had to Chicago for a long weekend and have an agenda of things they like to do and places they plan to go. They say they come prepared for any type of weather and do not want to miss the market. Those days we tend to sell even more of our extra cute and warm mismatched socks as feet get wet and cold.
We’ve also gotten to meet many vendors from near and far. This year we had a new fellow vendor who was from Berlin. Talk about jovial, Han’s reminded us of scrooge on Christmas Day when he seemed to be filled with the Holiday spirit of ten people. He said that he rarely get’s to meet people of color and was so excited to meet Linc that he gave him this huge hug. He was so excited to have been invited to someones home to experience a traditional Thanksgiving.
Back at the store…..we’ve slashed the hours at the store through the end of May when Linc and I return. The store will be open Friday & Saturday 11 – 5. It truly is a family affair now as my mother is working on Fridays and my sister Amy on Saturdays with daughters Kiley & Katie helping out here and there and Nico keeping the sidewalks clear of snow.