Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan
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This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
There is a place where Christmas lives all year long. It is called Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan. The family-owned business calls itself the world's largest Christmas store. The late Wally Bronner started the business in nineteen forty-five.
Wayne Bronner, Wally's son, is president and chief executive of what is now a multi-million dollar corporation. He learned the business from an early age. Some of his best memories are traveling to other countries with his father to find new products for the store.
Bronner's sells more than fifty thousand holiday products from seventy nations. Half of the products cost less than ten dollars. Wayne Bronner says demand for small objects to hang on Christmas trees has expanded over the years. People put more time, effort and money into decorating their homes with these ornaments, lights and religious scenes. Bronner's is famous for its nativity scenes which show the birth of Jesus Christ.
Michigan has the nation's highest unemployment rate. Bronner's has been affected by the recession, too. But not in reduced sales.
WAYNE BRONNER: "Even though people are spending less, we're having more people visit here. And as a result we've actually had a sales increase."
Bronner's success is also linked to community cooperation and investment. Frankenmuth is a town of five thousand people in eastern Michigan's farm country. The town was settled by Bavarian Germans in the eighteen hundreds. It has kept its traditions alive in buildings and restaurants.
Bavarian cultural themes and Bronner's huge store bring three million visitors a year. The town is the most popular place for tourists in the state.
Bronner's business is aimed at a single day of the year. But that is not too different from other businesses.
WAYNE BRONNER: "About half of our business is done in the last quarter of the year, in the last three months. And actually when you contrast that with most retailers, that follows the same pattern."
Wayne Bronner says the family's long-term planning and willingness to reinvest profits has grown the company into what it is today. Still, it does not hurt to build a business on a holiday celebrated worldwide. Currently, about two percent of sales are overseas. But Wayne Bronner sees room for growth, especially through the Internet.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.