It's easy to make a list of favorite things about Christmas: sleigh bells,
family time, Candlelight mass, homemade goodies, Christmas carols, stocking stuffers (of course!), childhood memories...
But through the years it seems that something of the true significance of the season has been lost. Now it's hustle and
bustle; crowded malls and parking lots; fights over "Tickle Me Elmo"; and credit card debt.
Luckily, you don't have to go to great lengths or great expense to fill your loved ones' Christmas stockings with a slew
of delightful little gifts. The easiest thing to do (as our readers like to remind us) is to collect little items
all year long as you run across them. But even if you've got less than 48 hours 'til Christmas morning, you can easily
find many fun, inexpensive things - it just takes the eye of an elf!
We started out actually providing these items on our website. For three years, we filled thousands of Christmas stockings
all over the country. But even as we made your holiday season easier, our season was getting further and further away
from the true spirit of the holiday. That's why we've decided to turn over our bucket of ideas and let you sort through the
goodies! You can only imagine the expertise we've developed from hours walking gift shows, browsing wholesale catalogs, and listening
intently to our customers. We'll do our best to tell you what we've learned.
Now that we've made the hard decision to close our store, we do hope that you will find the ideas and resources we've provided here
to be helpful and time-saving. Why? So that you can spend your holidays focused on spreading Joy, Goodwill Toward Men, and Peace on Earth!
Why we chose to close our store
Reason #1: Stress
To be honest, the founding and development of our website and store was a labor of love and a longtime dream for our founder,
Kathleen Vignos. Closing the retail store portion of the website has been hard on her. "The two things I'm most proud of?
Our customer testimonials (read a few
), and the website design and usability," says Vignos. She
follows, "And the one thing I'm most worried about now? Disappointing customers by closing the store!"
Those things just weren't enough to offset the strains associated with running the business. "For us, the crunch of the season - and the 12-hour work days - began in
August (with product selections and buying) and didn't end until a few days after Christmas," says Vignos. "I personally
watched to make sure every customer received their order on time for Christmas. It was exhausting - and traumatic when things
out of my control would go wrong."
Even with staff, the majority of the stress fell upon Vignos. "I had an unbelievably great, reliable team, especially
this past year, and I was still up to my eyeballs managing everything. At the end of last season, it became more clear that
even with fantastic help, operating a store with over 700 products, 100+ vendors, and thousands of customers wasn't ever
going to be a part-time job. I'd made a commitment to my family, and just wasn't willing to negotiate my life away anymore."
Reason #2: Sustainability
There was more to it than time management issues; Vignos has continued to grow more and more concerned about the environment. "Our financial priorities shifted in 1997,
and since then my husband and I have been trying to simplify our lives through decluttering, reducing waste, and striving to live within our means." For Vignos, this included paring down to
one family car, cloth diapering the kids, and participating in their city composting program from its inception.
But what does living simply in a small two-bedroom home have to do with running (or not running) a stocking stuffer store? According to Vignos, there emerged a conflict of values.
"How can I continue to sell plastic toys from China and heavily over-packaged gourmet gift foods when I'm explaining to my kids
that I make homemade granola bars to avoid excess packaging?" asks Vignos. Although she hoped that the Christmas stocking stuffers
sold on the site would be loved and enjoyed, she worried that some items would be considered disposable. "That's been one of the
tough things about this; taking something commercially successful and turning away from it in favor of the things I believe in," she says.
"Don't get me wrong - my kids love the stocking stuffer toys too; but they also love reading the nativity story out of the Bible
and going ice skating on Christmas Eve. Christmas should not be about buying stuff."
Reason #3: (The one for the season)
It's trite but true: Jesus is the reason for the season. "My vision for Christmas gifting (and Plumpstocking) was that you could show
someone you cared through some small, sweet gestures - in this case, stocking stuffers - as opposed to huge, expensive gifts," says Vignos.
The reality is, for many people it seems that the stocking stuffers are just more, more, more stuff on top of lots of extravagant, showy gifting.
Vignos says, "I'm looking for a meaningful holiday with my family, one where we explore what it means to serve and be kind to others. Gifts are only
one small part of that. Closing the store will help me focus on all those other important things."
We hope we didn't get all this great experience for nothing; so we are going to be doing our best to share resources and information!
If you continue to check back, we hope to be adding more great ideas for Christmas stocking stuffing and beyond!
In answer to some FAQs:
YES - we will still be giving out the free Christmas Countdown Refrigerator Magnets, so keep the ideas coming. Submit an idea
Retailers interested in purchasing some fantastic stocking stuffer shopping cart software should Contact Us
Here's wishing you a wonderful and meaningful holiday this Christmas and always!