Andy Czigler, owner of Tinseltown Christmas Emporium. Photo courtesy Andy Czigler

COVID-19 ornaments prove to be top sellers

  • December 17, 2020

COVID-19 Christmas ornaments are flying off the shelves in Ottawa this holiday season.

With many people looking for ways to commemorate this festive season in a year that has been anything but normal, Audy Czigler, owner of Tinseltown Christmas Emporium, has had trouble keeping any pandemic-related decorations in stock. The most popular item is an ornament featuring the masked faces of a family with heads peering out the windows of a snow-covered home.

“It’s been wild,” said Czigler, a Christmas enthusiast who has been running the shop for the past eight years. “You’ve seen the viral videos of people fighting over toilet paper. Well, it hasn’t been that intense, but it gets a little heated you know when we’re down to the last one. We were kind of surprised by all of this.... I’ve never been so bombarded with requests for an item in the history of our shop.”

Czigler was not interested in selling anything related to the pandemic, thinking, “Why would anyone want to remember this?” But then the requests started coming in, and one customer in particular reminded him that ornaments are meant to commemorate significant events.

“She told me if somebody got married or engaged or if somebody got their driver’s license that year that’s often made into an ornament,” recalled Czigler. “The lady said, ‘This is the same. COVID happened this year and that is the truth. We all had to not see our friends and couldn’t go to work and had to quarantine and all this kind of stuff.’

The conversation changed his perspective.

Czigler says a decoration with the words “Isolation 2020,” with the zeros formed out of toilet paper rolls in homage to the shortage of the item due to panic buying early in the pandemic, has been a hot seller.

But it hasn’t just been items memorializing the coronavirus dominating sales. Czigler says the store, which operates year-round, has also seen a significant uptick in early sales of religious-themed stock. He believes this may be a sign in a difficult year that many are turning more to their faith.

“Christmas ornaments sell all year and Nativity scenes normally only sell from mid-November and on, otherwise they don’t really move that much,” said Czigler. “But this year there is a change in that because we noticed a big shift in Nativity sales in probably early October. People were looking more at a religious type of product earlier in the season. I don’t know if that’s because of all the loss in the world with COVID and that type of thing, or people were just feeling more spiritual.”

With many parents hoping to strike a balance between the more commercial aspects of the season with the real religious meaning of Christmas, Czigler says newer ornaments depicting both Jesus and Santa have also become popular with young families.

Despite surging fall cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, the store has been able to remain open with a maximum capacity of 18 people and curbside pickup options. With long lineups every weekend, staff work to keep the atmosphere cheery, serving hot chocolate and offering chairs to those in need.

“This is our strongest year and it’s so funny that this is during a pandemic,” said Czigler. “That’s almost hard to believe because we weren’t sure which way it was going to go.... we are fortunate that they went in our favour.”

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