Frankenmuth, Michigan. Probably not a town many in the UK have heard of. With Bavarian roots dating back to 1845 and a style of architecture that reflects as much, it oozes character. More importantly, it also hosts the biggest Christmas shop in the world.
Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland first opened back in 1945 and has grown to be the biggest store of its kind. Stocking more than 50,000 delightful decorations, trims and gifts, and with grounds covering a cool 27 acres, it’s a dreamworld for fans of Christmas.
In the coming weeks and months we will bring you a glimpse of what goes on at the world’s biggest Christmas store, speaking to staff from Bronner’s in the run-up to Christmas and finding out just how a shop dedicated to Christmas can run so well and open for 361 days of the year.
History of Bronner’s
The store was founded by Wally Bronner who would work after school to grow his sign-painting business up until his graduation in 1945. His attention turned toward Christmas when he met with merchants from Clare, Michigan, who were looking for some festive decorations for the city lampposts.
After completing this project his move in to Christmas decorations had begun. In 1951, the first permanent store was built, a building that is now immortalised as a limited edition item in the popular US ornamental village line, Dept 56. Subsequent expansions, including the purchase of the town’s bank, helped Bronner’s grow to the size it is today.
Eat, shop and be merry
While the store is the biggest attraction for many of the 2million visitors Bronner’s receives each year, there is plenty more to see and do. Wally Bronner’s aim was always to “decorate hearts with peace and love”, and it’s certainly a focus that the company remains true to today.
One of the most impressive features of Bronner’s is the Silent Night Chapel, an exact replica of the original in Oberndorf, Austria, where the Silent Night Christmas carol was first sung. Mr Bronner applied for permission to recreate the chapel in Frankenmuth, and even to this day there is no admission fee for entering that, or any other aspect of the Bronner’s attraction.
There is a Season Eatings snack area that opens daily, selling a tasty mix of treats from Cookies and Cinnamon Roll to Bratwurst and Chili. If you fancy some more fresh air, there is the half-mile Christmas Lane, featuring festive lights that twinkle each evening of the year.
Bronner’s is a magical place, and we look forward to lifting the lid on some of this magic for you in the run-up to Christmas.
For more information, checkout Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.