Again, thank you for a terrific 2012. We are sold out of most sets and figures, just in time for Christmas. Next year we will have to stock more Santa, Sleigh and Reindeer combinations, more Nutcracker pairs, more large Santa and Snowmen, more bears and more six foot Nativities.

For 2013, we have designed and created new Santa and Snowmen, additional Nativity figures, leaping, prancing and trotting reindeer and new outdoor Husky Dog Sets. By popular demand, we will have two new Giant Camels, one standing and one resting, in addition to a giant Standing Ox, all for our 6ft Nativity. A new 66″ Tin Toy Soldier will supplement our outdoor offerings.

We plan to bring in a selection of Giant Hanging Baubles for larges spaces and a greater variety of dogs for our Saint Francis Garden website.

We will soon be showing pictures of many of the new items on our blog. Please “watch this space”

Best wishes for Christmas 2012 and a happy 2013.

Our Customers Write

We send website newsletters every few weeks to our mailing list of past and present customers.  In these newsletters we try to include advice on Christmas decorating and Nativities. We show pictures of new products and special offers as well as regular features of our website such as our free pictures and our Lay Away Plan.

A few weeks after we ship a product we ask the customer to rate the product and our service, with both  a comment and  a zero to five star score. We receive some wonderful comments and we have published the best in our blog.

We had one recently that we want to share with you.


Jeanette Ricker writes:

Husband Arthur built the stable; he’s been a building contractor and inspector.  [The building can be dismantled for storage.]  For several years now, we’ve wanted to add the 3 Kings…as well as cattle and/or a donkey, etc.  Truth is, we just can’t seem to afford to do so.  We have a HUGE family – growing by leaps and bounds – and by the time we plan gifts for those we MUST gift, there’s just nothing left for our outdoor display.  We’d take you up on your “buy now, pay later” plan, but every January 1st we end up so “far behind” that this kind of planning doesn’t help us at all.  WE DO keep your catalog and ads handy and – if and when we feel we are able – will be in touch to add pieces to our outdoor Christmas display.  Thank you for keeping US in mind!

Jeanette F. Ricker – dba The Executive Assistant –

Husband – Arthur W. Ricker, Jr

Pictures of Us at Christmas Night/Saint Francis Garden

Don at his desk working on an order
Don at his desk working on an order

A picture is worth a thousand words and the social media are proving it. This is a slow sales period for us but we are very busy unloading containers and photographing new items and adding them to our websites. We thought you might want  to see some of us working and give you some idea of how our business functions. We have included images from both our Christmas Night and Saint Francis Garden websites.

Claire in our photography studio, setting up lighting while watched over by the Nutcracker King with Scepter. soon to have his picture taken.
Claire in our photography studio, setting up lighting while watched over by the Nutcracker King with Scepter. soon to have his picture taken.
Codi and the boxer together
Codi and the boxer together
Eddie, Our warehouse manager, making sure that the Nutcracker King is positioned correctly
Eddie, Our warehouse manager, making sure that the Nutcracker King is positioned correctly
Our dog Codi doing what dogs do, checking out the new Boxer before Claire photographs him for our Saint Francis Garden website
Our dog Codi doing what dogs do, checking out the new Boxer before Claire photographs him for our Saint Francis Garden website
Our new warehouse employee, Josh, repacking the Great Dane after photography
Our new warehouse employee, Josh, repacking the Great Dane after photography

As you can see we have a lot of fun with our inanimate friends.

The Five Things Our Customers Want (We Hope)

As a direct marketing business, selling mostly to consumers, we are constantly trying to identify and focus on what will please our customers and keep them coming back. The solid foundation for this effort is our set of values. This can be summarized quite simply as the paraphrased  biblical “Golden Rule” Treat Others as You Would Like to Be Treated. Of course if we didn’t plan, organize and manage for profit we wouldn’t be around to please our customers. Here are the five things we do that we hope  please our customers and keep them coming back.

1. Offer Christmas Products They Can’t Find Elsewhere. This  is easier to do for Christmas Night  because we maintain a sharp focus on large Christmas figures, primarily for outdoor. That means no tree baubles nor tree skirts  and no trees either. Just Life Size Nativities, Nutcrackers, Toy Soldiers, Reindeer and other large figures associated with the celebration of Christmas.

2. Provide Superior Customer Service. I answered a customer call the other day and was happy to take an order for 27″ Nativity Set. When  I asked the customer (as I usually do ) how he found us, he said we were number two on the Google page but we answered our phone and helped him, which the number one ranked  store did not. The term “superior customer service”is a cliche  these days as so many companies claim to offer it. Few companies follow all the way through as we do, even after delivery.

3. Offer Good Value. We don’t always have the lowest prices on our products, we offer free shipping on a limited number of products and we rarely  discount our  product prices. Nevertheless, the product reviews and customer comments seem to confirm that we provide good value. The items which arrive broken are replaced as soon as possible and defective items are repaired or replaced.

4.Maintain High Quality. We have replaced several suppliers who have let their product quality slip, we spot check our incoming shipments and we  constantly work with our factories to improve molding and painting.

5. Make Our Products Easy to Find Online. How many times have you entered a key word or phrase online and the search engine takes you to a website which offers nothing even close to what you want, but owes its prominent  position to search engine tricks. With us, when you have taken the trouble to define exactly what you want, that’s what you get. No “bait and switch”

So there you have it, an opinionated list of what we see as our strengths. Perhaps you don’t agree and think we are off base or blowing smoke. Please tell us. We really do want your feedback

Advice on Buying A Nativity

Everyone loves a deal! In these days of “free shipping”, “free returns”, coupons and big discounts for internet purchases it’s easy to forget the need to ensure the quality of the set, the continuity of supply and the ability to find matching pieces in future years. I will expand on these three concepts in this blog.

Quality of the Set: The best and most durable of the many Holy Family  and Nativity and Creche scenes being offered these days are made of fiber glass and ,with sets up to about 40″ tall ,with a filled poly resin. The fiber glass sets are made in the same way that small to mid size  boats are made and are very durable and resistant to cracking or chipping. The filled poly resin sets are also strong, although, pieces over 40″ , in our experience, may become brittle and crack easily. The paint should always be outdoor, sunlight resistant. Painted poly resin figures may need a clear coat sealant.

Continuity of Supply: Many stores and websites in the garden, home furnishing and even discount retailing are offering a few Nativity figures, usually a Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Once these sets are sold, at very low prices, there is no certainty that they will ever carry these items again. That can leave you searching high and low next year and the year after to add to or complete your set.

Finding Matching Pieces. While you may find Nativity pieces of a similar size next year, there is no guarantee that you will be able to complete your set with all figures designed and built to create a complete and integrated scene. It is very likely, that when you do find these pieces, they will cost quite a bit more than your original pieces and will not be offered with free shipping. Respect for a special kind of product and what it stands for as well as dedication to offering the very best quality and service to our customers are more important to us than the latest internet fad.

The Middle of the Busy Season

Just past November 1 and our season is in full steam. Each year is unique and this season is no exception. Our new Toy Soldiers and Nutcrackers are selling very well as are the various Santa,  Sleigh and Reindeer sets we put together for this year. Our larger than life and life size Nativities and Holy Families are in demand and we are having trouble keeping up with the orders for our Nativity Stables.

Our Christmas and Artisan Nativities from Joseph’s Studio are starting to move well and this later action is normal for the smaller Nativity  sets. 38200stWhat is surprising is the slow sales of our beautiful   Fabric and Resin Nativity and 2D Wood Nativities. Watch for a promotion on these shortly!

We wanted to share with you a wonderful testimonial that we received in September from a Church in South Carolina.

” We received many compliments on the pieces purchased last December. These new pieces, which are beautiful beyond words, will really add to the scene. You need to see them to appreciate the quality of these  figures. Pictures just do not do them justice -……………….Thanks for all of your input and help——–Not sure how to do the rating, but all would be 10!”

Thank you Jo Helen!

Weather and Christmas Celebration

almanac-2012On the second day of Autumn it may seem too early to look ahead to the coming winter and the winter weather forecast. Nevertheless, we have to plan our Christmas decorating with the expected weather in mind. The Farmers Almanac 2012 winter outlook ( says “Get ready for a winter of crime and punishment”

To summarize the predictions  from the Farmers Almanac, the East will have very wet and stormy conditions with above average temperatures and a lot of wet snow. This forecast will also apply to the Eastern Great Lakes and the Southern Plains. Below normal temperatures will dominate the Northern Plains and the Western Great Lakes, while the rest of the country will have a normal winter except for the Southeast which will very mild and  wet.

So, with the upcoming winter predicted to be “an unusually tough one” for most of the country, how should we plan our Christmas decorating. One suggestion is to bring some of your outdoor decorating inside. A beautiful and inspiring alternative to our many Life Size Decorations and Outdoor Nativity Sets, Scenes and Creches is our Life Size Indoor Nativity Sets and Scenes. Designed and fabricated in the Philippines by skilled designers and crafts people who are also devout Christians, these unique resin and fabric and plush figures will help you celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and will offer your church an attractive alternative to the Nativity display.

68612stRegardless of the weather predictions, many people will still set up beautiful outdoor displays. We suggest that you be sure to tether your taller figures and displays to the ground with posts and guy wires to ensure they are not toppled by high winds and wet snow. Clean the snow off your figures and spotlights and try to ensure that you painted fiberglass and resin figures don’t get frozen in or are left in standing water as this amt induce cracking and chipping of the paint. When you bring your figures and displays in at the end of the season, be sure to wipe them with a damp cloth without using detergent or liquid cleaner. Do not power wash any painted fiberglass or resin figure as this can strip the paint from the surface.

The Christmas Season is a glorious time of year for children, families and Christians of all churches to celebrate. A little advance planning can make your decorating less stressful.

5 Steps to Buy a Christmas Nativity Set

60550stWe often talk with groups looking to raise the funds to buy a new Nativity scene for their organization, church, hospital, municipality or charity. They may be looking to replace a Nativity that they have had for years or they may be buying a Nativity Set for the first time. In this blog, we offer some steps and suggestions to help you and your organization achieve this objective.

1. Take advantage of our offer on our website under “Information Request”. Tick off the items that you want pictures and more information on , provide your mailing address and contact information and we will send you full color 8″x11′ photos of any of the sets requested, along with set data and shipping cost to your zip code. This will all be contained in an attractive presentation folder, which can be used at purchasing committee meetings or given to the decision maker. The photos are high quality and can be used to make posters and hand outs for group fund raising.

2. Successful fund raising may start with the identification of a potential benefactor. In a church or charity, this may be someone remembering a loved one, a long time supporter or congregant or a board member. This person may offer a contribution matching monies raised by the group or committee or they may provide the full amount. Remember to involve them in the process as much or as little as they want. They make the rules.

3. The keys in group fund raising is volunteers and communication. Create a committee with clear responsibilities , not just opinions and set some targets with timing and amounts. Critics and opinionated people can be challenged to either donate time or money to back up their opinions. Once an objective is agreed, the research becomes the most important next step. Use the internet search engines to locate Nativity alternatives, which are rarely available in local retail stores.

4. Once your group has decided which Nativity set to purchase, you will want to consider some money raising techniques. In a church, for example, these may include bake sales, silent auctions, “Christmas in July” and “Nativity Tree” and many other fund raising activities. Local businesses  may want to contribute or the local municipality may have a budget for Christmas celebration. Charitable organizations may be able to obtain grants which match funds raised by the fund raisers..

5. Always try to identify your target donor or donor group and tailor your communications and events to them. After a successful  campaign, be sure to give credit to the hard working fund raisers and to especially  thank the donors. At any point in this process, if you think we can help, please contact us

The Plastic Reindeer Rule-An Opportunity

life-size-santaIn my last blog I discussed the so called “Plastic Reindeer Rule” created by the US Supreme Court. In summary, this ruling seems to require that any display of religious significance, such as a Christmas Creche or Nativity Scene, should be accompanied by a secular Christmas figure such as a Santa , Toy Soldier, Nutcracker or Reindeer.

Even this interpretation of the ruling is open to challenge by parties like the ACLU. In other cases a Giant Creche placed in New York City’s Central Park at the corner of 5th Avenue and 57th St, seemed to cause little comment. If a municipality or local community wants to play it safe, we may be able to help. Beginning this week, August 8 and through September 30, 2011, we are offering a 10% discount on the price of any Life Size Snowman, Santa, Toy Soldier,  Nutcracker or Caroler Set ordered along with a Life Size or Giant Nativity Scene, such as a 43150 or 41102. Please refer to the discount code “Reindeer 2011″

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More New Arrivals

This is an exciting and busy time of year for us. Our warehouse staff is working hard unloading multiple steel shipping containers containing boxes of our products manufactured in our factories in China and the Philippines. At the same time Claire, our buyer( and President) is busy photographing new items and sets which have just arrived so we can add or update the pictures on our website.

Some of these new items are additions to our Nativity Sets and Outdoor Nativity Scenes as well as a new Toy Soldier. We believe that it is important to continually improve and  add to our sets and individual items. We work with our factories and their designers and model makers to create new and improved Wise Men, Angels and Shepherds as well as adding dogs, goats and various barnyard animals and fowl to our Nativity Scenes.

On our website, you will now see the various social  media icons, including Facebook and Twitter. We hope you will “like” our site and share your photos and stories with us. We will be creating “Tweetable” stories and offers in the next few months as we develop these tools. More on this in our next post.