When Jeff Aston opened up his Christmas-themed store last year, he needed something that would help the store stand out from any other.
Overflow the shop with a presentation of a Christmas that appeals to kids and makes adults feel like children as well.
Miniature buildings are lighted, tiny pieces are almost always turned on, and cheerful music plays over the speakers. Nearly every inch of the store is dedicated to the spirit of Christmas.
“Who does this anymore?” Aston asked. “This store is presentation. This is designed out of the love of the product. People love this, so we make the store as pretty as possible. The smells, the sound - this doesn’t exist anymore.”
As other holiday-themed stores in the area close, Aston claims the business is doing well in its second season, buoyed by the internet sales. He stated that the website makes it possible for the store front to remain open.
“I give all the credit in the world to the guy who can run a store without an internet business, a corporate business, or some other way of earning income,” Aston said. “To sit in a storefront like this and make a living is near impossible.”
The brick and mortar store has a symbiotic relationship with the website, each one giving credibility to the other. Aston said that there are vendors who won’t sell their products to businesses that don’t have a physical shop.
Non-Christmas goods, including home and garden items, are sold on the website year-round in order to keep the store mainly holiday-themed instead of turning it into a warehouse. To be able to spend his life surrounded by such an atmosphere is worth it to him.
Aston continued to lament what he believes to be the end of free-standing business. He said that he shops locally and that all the stores that were around in the earlier era are gone, losing the competition against Amazon and other corporate websites.
Yves Michel, Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development, believes that having a website is important for small business. “I think because of how the population is moving forward, realizing how important technology is if there is an opportunity for comparison shopping, most people will either go on the internet. An online presence is, in my opinion, just as important as a brick and mortar store but even more important.”
Aston summed up the store by saying, “this isn’t the kind of store where you come looking for something you want. This is the kind of store where you come in and go ‘wow, that’s cool.’ And then you buy it.”