PHILIPSBURG – Though Christmas is over on Wednesday, at one shop in western Montana, you can find the holiday spirit all year long.
Michele and Craig Larson opened up the Christmas Emporium of Philipsburg this year, after moving to Montana from Seattle.
“We wanted to bring something that no one else had, and we decided to do Christmas,” said Michele.
It took five years of planning to bring their dream to life.
“It’s definitely our first rodeo,” she said.
The couple’s first retail store began simply with their love for the holiday.
“Most people that time of year are very happy and very giving to one another,” said Michele. “I think the Christmas spirit comes out with communities, and giving back to the community, and helping people that time of year that are less fortunate. That is what I like about Christmas.”
Wall to wall, the whole shop is covered in hundreds of Christmas trinkets, from Santa figurines, to ornaments and nativities, to Christmas villages.
They sell both Department 56 villages and Jim Shore figurines, both classic brands for Christmas decor aficionados.
Michele also focuses on Santa Claus decor and searches for specific types, like fishing and camping Santas.
And they have to be warm and friendly.
“Some of the Santas can be absolutely terrifying,” she said. “So when I look to buy them for the store, I really pay attention to the faces.”
But the Larsons say there is something for everyone at the Christmas Emporium, and even the tiniest visitors can find something special.
In fact, Michele says that’s another reason they opened up shop.
Their son Matthew, who is now grown up and works in law enforcement in Washington, has always loved the holiday.
“When he was a child, getting his new toys obviously was the biggest thing.” she said. “Now, it’s kind of fun having the store, because now it’s, ‘Hey mom, now you got the store, think you could bring me some Christmas decorations?”
And it sounds like he gets it honestly.
“There’s nothing like the magic of Christmas when you have a child,” she said. “And we’ve always loved decorating. I’ve always done a lot of decorating.”
But there are two caveats. Michele says you won’t hear Christmas music year-round at the Christmas Emporium.
“The only time we will have Christmas music will be in December. Other than that, it’s country all the way. It has to be country.”
She’s also a firm believer the tree goes up after Thanksgiving: “Otherwise, you rush the holiday.”
Even Santa needs a break, so the Larsons are closing up the store until mid-February. They’ll still be planning and doing some shopping for the store.
The couple says they’re especially looking forward to celebrating “Christmas in July.”
“If you come in in July, you can start thinking about what you want to do for Christmas, and buy what you think you need,” she said. “‘Cause it’s here all year long.”
They currently sell a small amount of Halloween decorations, but are hoping to amp up stock for other holidays, too.
You can find the Christmas Emporium on Facebook.
Their address is 134 W. Broadway, Philipsburg. You can also reach them at 406-859-XMAS.
Story by Evelyn Schultz, MTN News