Scottsdale-based Paddock Pools, not content with turning its 15 shops into ornament-festooned fake-tree forests every fall, opened its first Super Christmas Destination Store in Mesa on Saturday.
An Artrageous art superstore formerly occupied the 42,000-square-foot space at 7012 E. Hampton Ave. in the massive Superstition Springs area complex of shops and shopping centers near Power Road and U.S. 60. The Paddock Christmas store opens at a time when other retail businesses are shutting down, felled by the sinking economy.
But Paddock CEO Jim Cich said he's not worried.
"It's certainly not the optimum economic climate, but it is a time when people want to enjoy the comfort of their homes," Cich said. "They may not go out as much or take trips, but they want a Christmas."
And the new Paddock enterprise has a supermarket-sized selection of Christmas décor and gifts for them to make the holiday as merry as possible.
The Santa display is packed with about 40 versions of St. Nick from six inches to six feet tall. Dozens of angels are grouped wing tip to wing tip in their own heavenly tableau.
And in the singing stuff section, among the dancing trees and snowmen, an iguana belts out "Feliz Navidad" while a floppy-eared dog croons and rhythmically flaps his ears to "Flippity Flop," an original tune sure to be a future holiday favorite.
Dalon Faulstick, for 12 years Paddock's director of Christmas, said he spends most of the year seeking and buying all things holiday-related and, in the fall, doling out his finds to all the company stores.
Paddock has made room for Christmas décor in the pool stores for three decades, but this year Cich decided to give Faulstick his own holiday retail haven.
Christmas tree and décor sales make up about 10 percent of Paddock's annual revenue, Cich said. "It's not the biggest part of our business, but it is the most fun part," he said. And it does help the bottom line.
The 50-year-old pool building company first started selling Christmas items to attract people to the stores at a time of year when they are not typically shopping for patio furniture or pool toys, Cich said.
"It was a bit of a down time for pool sales, and that was the driving force," he said.
Faulstick is doing the same in reverse in the Christmas store, making room for some patio tables, swing sets, trampolines, a putting green and even a track for racing remote-control cars.
"The space is so big, why not?" Faulstick said. "It's a perfect time to buy barbecues and play equipment. They make great Christmas gifts."
But the new Christmas store is not just a super-sized version of the holiday décor Paddock has been stocking and selling in its pool stores for years, Cich said. The company also is selling new services such as setting up, taking down and even storing Christmas trees, outdoor lighting and lawn decorations, he said.
And Cich has invited Santa to show up at his Christmas store on weekends starting in mid-November to gather kids' wish lists.
To add to the new store offerings, Faulstick is planning free workshops and tips on holiday decorating, which he dubs Yule School.
Anybody interested can check out Yule School class schedules and Santa's planned appearances at www.PaddockPoolsandSpas.com, he said.
Paddock has 15 stores, 11 of them in Arizona, seven in the East Valley. All locations except the Mesa Paddock, which is across the parking lot from the new Christmas superstore, will still carry Christmas items, Cich said. But he is cutting back on the amount of holiday merchandise in the pool stores and providing fliers directing holiday shoppers to the Mesa Christmas store, he said.