Offbeat: Christmas Cottage

By Bob Snell - bio | email feedback

WYNNE, AR(KAIT) - A more than life size gingerbread house on the main drag of Wynne gets plenty of attention, but it's what inside that will make sure jaw drop.  The Cordial Cottage is a virtual Christmas village, complete with 57 decorated trees.

"We started with just three and over the years it's grown to 57," said store owner Darryl Calvert. "The best thing is that none of the trees are decorated the same, they all have a unique theme."

Coming up with that theme is the Christmas creation of Darryl's wife Charlotte.  The couple opened the Cordial Cottage in 1998, as a florist and home decor store.  They started out doing weddings, but quickly realized they didn't want to do that.  They started out with 800 square feet and have grown to more than 5,000 square feet, by taking two, 100 year old homes, knocking out a wall on each and building a middle section to combine the two.

"We just keep expanding the store and when Christmas rolls around, we just don't have enough room," said Calvert. "It's a year round process, and we start getting ready in May."

Calvert, his wife, and two teenage boys start un-boxing pricing the ornaments.  In July they get out the trees and start putting on the lights.  It takes the next two months to get that and the fluffing of the needles completed.  Charlotte comes up with the themes and then it's time to put it all together.

"I have everything ready in boxes under each tree," said Charlotte. "I call in every friend, family member, and favor.  We have food and tell everyone, pick a tree and have at it.  We hang all the ornaments in one night."

"We just love Christmas and our business is about creating an atmosphere to help everyone else get into the Christmas mood," said Darryl.  "When a child walks through the door and their eyes nearly pop out their head, it's just awesome."

The outside of the store is painted like a gingerbread house, with designs from Calvert's father Howard.  He spent several weeks on the designs and the rest of the family painted them in to create the giant gingerbread house.

The Cordial Cottage in Wynne is located at the corner of Falls Blvd. and Forrest Ave.  The phone number is 870-238-1700.

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