Monday, December 7, 2009

Big boxes: Coming to a quaint Christmas village near you!


I’m not sure if this qualifies as art, but it's definitely at least a case of tchotchkes imitating life: After setting up shop and moving in on mom-and-pop merchants across much of the country, at least a couple of major big-box chains are now taking the same approach on a, um, smaller scale. Wal-Mart and the Home Depot, for instance, are selling miniature, ceramic versions of their stores as part of their Christmas village lines, situating themselves amid the quaint homes, churches and Main Street, U.S.A. businesses that generally characterize such offerings. Wal-Mart's little supercenter, which I've spotted in local stores, comes complete with Salvation Army bell-ringers posed in front, while the Home Depot's depicts Christmas trees for sale and festive wreaths on the store doors. And, on its Web site, at least, Sears, which owns Lands’ End, is selling a rustic-looking “Lands’ End Outfitters” and a tool shop selling (of course) Craftsman brand products as part of its Christmas Village array.

In classic big box fashion, the Home Depot and Wal-Mart Christmas village pieces also appear to be aiming to succeed by undercutting the “competition” on price – they’re cheaper than most other comparably-sized pieces in the collection.
So is it a sign of the times? Evidence of the inexorable commercialization of everything? A quirky way to include a store you like in real life in a generally fictionalized, idealized holiday setting? I’m open to the possibilities, not to mention just plain amused.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Great article?

Linnea said...

I vote for quirky. Villages of old have included stores such as Montgomery Ward. These places dot the landscape of our history, for good or ill. At least they tried to make them look pretty!

Eric Bosloor said...

I have seen a lot of these village pieces of companies being sold during the holiday season. I think it provides a twist to the holiday tradition and it is definitely influenced by commercialization. It also has a psychological effect of belongingness, especially to brands that people would like to be associated. For someone to own such, it means that they own something they would like to have but could not afford to. Yes, it is a little beyond reach to own a Wal-Mart, but isn’t it nice to own a piece of it? Nevertheless, even if these pieces end up in storage after the holiday season, the feeling for once that you have a piece of a big company is just satisfying.