At St Nicholas Ave Gifts Arts and Collectables, a friendly German Shepard greets customers at the gate. The Christmas store has been in operation in Lake Country since 1992.
Martin Metcalfe, originally from Africa, makes the Christmas crafts, collecting and amalgamating pieces from his collection together.
Near the front of the store is a workbench covered with glue guns, beads and other materials needed for his craft. The store is crammed with Santas, angels, sleighs and other bits and bobs that make up everything you can think of for Christmas decor.
“The customization part of it became important because those box office stores can’t do that,” Metcalfe said.
He pointed to an angel, decorated with lights. “Those are custom pieces that I make, and no one is able to be able to do that.”
Metcalfe views himself as an artist, creating pieces from old decorations, some of which is brought in by customers that want to liven up their own collections.
“It’s not exactly recycling, but it is kind of,” he said. “People know exactly what they’re going to get when they’re brought in.”
Everything in the store has Metcalfe’s creative touch. At the back of the room hangs a giant wreath, and he said he’s created them before using bleached deer skulls and anthers to make them unique.
The store is open Monday, Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
He hopes to be open Wednesdays as well, but it depends on the hours of his other job, which he said is in mental health. For Metcalfe, the store is more about an experience people get when they enter it, rather than the selling of items.
“They love to see it, and people get pictures with the nutcrackers out front and I love that part of doing this,” he said.
He said bringing people joy is part of Christmas, focusing on loved ones and spending the time to purchase thoughtful gifts.
“You can’t help but like it if you’re an upbeat, creative person and that’s ultimately what this store is about,” he said.
He pointed back to the angel. “It’s not meant to sell, its meant for people to like it.”
The store is kept warm by a cozy fireplace, which Metcalfe keeps crackling with the help of a blow dryer.
“(Christmas) isn’t about (consumerism) really, it’s about taking time to actually reflect,” he said. “I’m not doing this for the money, but I also know in life, you do things that bring you joy.
“It’s the activity of well-being that causes you to feel prosperous.”
He also tries to be generous in everyday life. His German Shepard is a rescue and his house is also home to 15 parrots that he rescued when the owners didn’t want them anymore.
Check out the store for yourself at the 10886 Bottom Wood Lake Rd.