BEAVERCREEK — It’s a question that Nate DeMars gets asked probably more than any other when customers stop in at his store at The Greene, and with good reason.
“Where do these all come from?” or something close to it is usually the form that question takes, with “these” referring to the clothes his store has for sale.
DeMars isn’t selling flip-collar polos, puffy coats or skinny jeans. No, he’s selling something a little more … unique: ugly holiday sweaters, and lots of them. Vests, turtlenecks, and mostly sweaters line the racks of Christmisc, a successful holiday pop-up store returning for its second year at The Greene.
In answer to that common question, the response is simply “all over the place.” However the store can get the sweaters, it does: thrift shops are scoured, closets are emptied, even relatives contribute what they have. It all adds up to the approximately 2,500 pieces the store opened with, according to DeMars, the business’s owner.
The store originally began in Columbus in the back of DeMars’ suit business, Pursuit, as just a “couple rolling racks in the back of the store,” he said. After two years of selling out what originally was supposed to be a goofy sideshow, DeMars and his team sat up and paid attention to the trend. Maybe there was something more to this.
And so in the 2013 season, the team launched Christmisc (pronounced “Christmas”), a store completely dedicated to the sweaters, in Columbus and expanded to a pop-up store at The Greene in 2014.
Returning for the 2015 holiday season, the store has a new, central location between Tilly’s and Pacific Sunwear on Glengarry Drive and has a new selection of holiday gifts in addition to its traditional clothing options. The store will be open through December 23 or until its supply of sweaters runs out.
Sweaters range in price from $8 to $48, and if last year’s sales are any indication (DeMars said the store sold about 2,000 sweaters while it was open last year), customers are willing to pay for their ironic attire for their holiday parties and gatherings. It would appear this ugly holiday sweater thing is probably a trend that’s going to stick around for awhile.
“I don’t think the trend is going to die any time soon,” said DeMars, who is known to his friends as “the sweater guy.”
In fact, it’s possible the trend is growing, as larger retailers like Kroger and Wal-Mart attempt to get a piece of the pie with new, screen-printed, ugly holiday sweaters and shirts this year.
While the fact that this business – his business – has begun to segment and change, fascinates DeMars, their “non-authentic” nature also makes him a little unhappy.
“It’s a weird thing to be a snob about I guess,” he said. “You think about this every day, this is what you’re an expert in. It just seems kind of uninteresting and lazy. … That’s phony. That’s made to be ironic, where all these, someone actually wore these. They manufactured these because they were of interest to somebody. To me that’s a whole lot more interesting and compelling.”
It’s that kind of personal investment that DeMars and his team have put into this business and it’s that kind of investment that has made it successful so far. While it might not last forever, at least for now, it’s something fun and unique.
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.