Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, however, for one local business, the highly anticipated season of giving is spread through from January to December.
Russel Duncan and Rick Seidel are the proud owners of That Christmas Shop, a store that celebrates Christmas every single day of the year and tucked away on Echlin Street, West End. When Australia was locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sydney locals decided to jet off to North Queensland and explore our beautiful region. Russel and Rick “fell in love with the work to life ratio” and they soon began to realise that “North Queensland was just screaming for a creative, fresh and new shop like this.” After making a move to Townsville in October 2020, The Christmas Shop was open for business seven days later.
“It was supposed to be a nice little retirement shop, but it really isn’t. We both love it, and it is a labour of love,” says Russel.
The Christmas enthused pair have been in the festivities business for 32 years. Both with a background in creative arts, Russel and Rick have owned and collaborated with Christmas stores internationally, stretching as far the United Kingdom. The shop they are in at the minute is 800 square meters smaller than their successful 900 square meter shop in Sydney. The amount of holiday joy is still evident, even in a smaller space. Upon talking to Russel, he says that he hopes that “as soon as you open our doors, we like to think you can feel the magic that Christmas brings.”
When entering the store, customers are greeted with a delightful array for all the senses. The sound of delightful Christmas music rings through your ears, the familiar smell of Christmas Eve baking brings back happy memories, and the bright flashing lights help to show that Santa really is on his way. The gold Christmas tree, ornate with baubles, tinsel, and angels, is the focus of the store. However, whilst this tree was the most grand and eccentric theme in the store, it was not their favourite. Sitting in the corner to the right, was the traditional green tree, covered top to bottom in red and silver baubles, and on the branches sat beautifully tied ribbon bows, some decorated with snowmen and some decorated with Santa Claus.
All the stock that you see on the shelves as you walk through That Christmas Shop are one of a kind and “can’t be found anywhere else in Australia.” As the couple both have a background in creative arts, it allows for one of kind items to found in store. Rick, being a sculptor, helps to bring the many ideas they collectively have come to life in different shapes and sizes.
“We can create things specifically for customers by order in store,” says Russel.
Rick and Russel consciously decided to not have a website, due to number of products they would need to be uploading to maintain the high demand of unique Christmas products.
“Not having a website was purely done by choice, because it therefore allows you to feel that magic and emotion of Christmas, that cannot be done online,” Russel says.
“You can’t create a vision and evoke emotion on a website.”
To make availability for all types of Christmas traditions, there are gold, beachy, purple, and traditional trees, all placed in separate corners around the joyous store. The pair work every day each year – aside from Christmas, of course, the best day of the calendar year. From February 1st to November 1st, Russel and Rick work five days a week. The day November 2nd hits, the store is officially open seven days a week.
The motto of the store, “Christmas with a Difference” is a statement that rings true after walking through the bright red door. What a holly, jolly Christmas it will be after visiting Russel and Rick, the proud owners of That Christmas Store.