Christmas is a busy time for shoppers and merchants, with orders to be placed, decorations to be bought and trees to be picked out.
For Judy Kinderman, every day is Christmas.
And, while consumers hit the crescendo of the holiday buying frenzy this week, the owner of Kindy's Factory Outlet Store said she was simply "feeling good."
Packed wall-to-wall with lights, lawn decorations, trees, ornaments and everything and anything Christmas, Kinderman said shoppers wrapped up decoration-hunting last weekend and shifted their focus to buying presents. The 25,000-square-foot flagship warehouse at 2900 S. 20th St. just had its busiest days during its short run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24.
But, like many retailers who see a spike as the temperatures dip, the holiday is never far away. From fishmongers to bakeries to tree merchants, Christmas raises the bar for local sellers, some who are only open for a short span to year-rounders who know their goods are on everyone's wish list.
For Kindy's, planning for next year started about four months ago when the product development team and artists for Kinderman family-owned Brite Star Manufacturing Co., which makes more than 1,000 holiday-related products for wholesalers and retailers, began putting together design concepts for 2008.
Among the most popular of the various adornments are icicles, the shiny tinsel hung on evergreen branches. At one time, Kindy's, which opened its doors to the public in 1981, was the largest manufacturer of the product in the nation. Today, they still hover at the top and, with more than 50,000 customers coming through its decked halls in roughly two months, the ongoing interest can only be attributed to the attitude of the woman who oversees 100 employees at Kindy's and Brite Star.
"Every year [Christmas is] new and fresh again," she said. "You set everything else aside and enjoy Christmas. That's why we've been able to sustain ourselves in this business for such a long time -- because every year it's renewed and exciting again. It's bright and it's colorful."
When the decorations are in place, the festive table needs to be set. A few blocks away, things were not slowing down at the Italian Market. Anastasi Seafood, Ninth Street and Washington Avenue, had already begun to see a steady increase as the four-day rush that starts Friday -- the last weekend before Christmas Eve -- has many Italian-Americans placing orders for the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The traditional holiday meal has seven types of seafood served as part of the commemoration of the wait for the midnight birth of Jesus.
"It's the busiest weekend of the year by far," owner Salvatore Anastasi, of 10th and Carpenter streets, said.
A couple hundred pounds of seafood will fly out his doors, including smelts, baccala, shrimp, scallops, clams, oysters, cod and flounder. The dozens of varieties the 49-year-old sells are shipped daily from coastal states from Maine to Florida.
Salvatore's mother, Janet, 69, said the coming weekend would be chaos, with orders already phoned in and hundreds more expected through Christmas Eve afternoon. The average family gets an assortment, usually several pounds of everything on an order sheet, Salvatore, the fourth-generation to staff the counter in the almost-100-year-old business, said.
Business this time of year is a true family effort: "My son's in the truck, he just went to the market. My daughter's in the office and my mother's at the register. My sister's on her way in and my wife's in the basement. Everybody's here."
"It's such a tradition," Janet, who lives at Eighth and Carpenter streets, said about the seasonal return of customers "especially in South Philly."
For other merchants, there is no change in the steady stream that started at the beginning of the month as Dec. 25 nears. Joey Cutter and brother Richard, lifelong South Philly residents whose family owns Christmas tree lot Tree Junction, said every week is consistently busy for the business that's been in their family for 38 years -- all spent in South Philly, with the last 20 at the corner of Fourth Street and Oregon Avenue.
"I'm out here 17, almost 18 hours a day, 7 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m.," Joey, of Sixth Street and Oregon Avenue, said. "It's a hard job."