The Queen of Christmas
By Mark Wineka
Queen’s owner Jane Crosby isn’t sure what to call it.
Customers have dubbed it a “Christmas Wonderland.”
Employees sometimes refer to it as the Christmas room, though it’s an awfully large room.
It’s definitely as big as some Christmas stores at your favorite mall.
“I do love the season,” says Crosby, groping for a way to explain her elegant excess, “and everybody says I do love a challenge.”
Earlier this fall, Crosby and her staff took five weeks to create an upstairs Christmas extravaganza that covers more than 4,000 square feet and includes some 35 different trees, all lavishly decorated.
Gone are the women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories that used to cover this second-floor space. The jewelry and flip-flops have moved to ground level. But everything in the upstairs now deals with Christmas, and Crosby looked at every tree as a way to express a different theme.
The trees are skinny and stout, flocked and unflocked, tall and short, upside down and hung from ceilings.
And the room is populated with interesting characters: the ballerina, monkey, gift fairies and the table full of carolers.
Well, you have to be there to understand.
All items are for sale, of course.
“We decorate to undecorate,” Crosby explains.
She says the upstairs goes from a whimsical feel in the back toward the more traditional in the front.
“Everything sort of leads to the real reason for the season,” Crosby says.
The front of the second floor is devoted to religious statues, creches, Nativity scenes, figurines and more.
Crosby spent days building a manger display ó complete with a shingled, slanted roof ó that takes up the entire front wall.
And while visitors leave the store amazed at what
Queen’s has done for Christmas, it’s still one of Salisbury’s better-kept secrets.
The Christmas extravaganza has been in place since the Friday before OctoberTour.
“Just step to the top of the stairs and see,” Crosby invites her Queen’s customers.
Over the five weeks the project came together, Crosby and her staff averaged decorating a tree per day. She couldn’t help giving the trees and the themes around them a name.”We wanted it to be a real happy place ó an escape, with everything that’s going on,” Crosby says.
She points out the Enchanted Garden, the Vision of Sugar Plums, Under the Sea, Dr. Seuss, the Circus, the Safari, the Tiki Bar, the Snow Globe and more. Crosby also went wild with color themes, from red to platinum or white to silver. Natural colors ó bronzes, browns and burgundys ó have their day to shine, too.
Crosby thought boys needed their own section, so she has a tree devoted to sports, cowboys and hobbies.
Queen’s Christmas offerings include most things imaginable: ornaments, plates, Advent calendars, candles, mugs, lights, stockings, mats, crosses, banners and the like.
“There are so many things that I love,” Crosby says.
She shows off the expensive Christopher Radko ornaments with their “Shiny Brite” packaging and the Byers’ Choice Carolers. She likes the resin-based Fontanini Nativity figures.
They’re “not so breakable” and invite children to pick them up and tell the Christmas story, Crosby says.
Queen’s actually has decorated 50 different trees this season. Forty-three are in the Salisbury store (first and second floors), and seven are at the store’s spot at Black Lion in Concord Mills.
Decorating trees for Christmas isn’t exactly new for Crosby. But this many is.
The intimidating part for Crosby is taking down all the stuff after the holidays and figuring out what comes next as far as upstairs merchandise.
Did someone say “Easter”?