It's never too early to begin your holiday shopping, and what better place to do than at a place where Christmas is celebrated year round?
The Holiday House at the Shell Factory has started its Christmas in July promotion, where it will sell its holiday related merchandise at discounted prices.
All Christmas trees, villages and wind out music boxes will be on sale, and Santa Claus will stop by on the weekend to get an early jump on Christmas lists and to perhaps get a carriage ride from Santa.
An “upside down” Christmas tree is one of the more unusual — but gorgeous — trees at the Shell Factory’s Holiday House.
The Holiday House will have 20 percent off everything, including the collectibles, and they'll also have red light specials at 50 percent off selected items, according to Ann Sheridan, buyer at the Shell Factory.
"People start shopping now. It's to get them excited and give them an idea of what they want to do for Christmas," Sheridan said. "You'd be shocked at how many come here to start preparing their decorations now."
The Holiday House, which has been part of the Shell Factory since the beginning, has been redone as it readies for its fourth Christmas in July promotion, Sheridan said, adding the Shell Factory, at 7,000 square feet has the largest holiday house from the Keys to Sarasota.
"We have our own forest here and one of the largest Christmas villages. People come from all over to buy this stuff," Sheridan said. "Wind-up musicals are also very big this year."
One of the more interesting features is the upside-down tree, a tradition which goes back to the Middle Ages when Europeans did it to represent the Trinity.
"They've become so popular because you can fit more presents under it," Sheridan said. "It's also pet friendly because your dog or cat won't get into it."
The Shell Factory will get numerous visits from Santa during the month, especially on Sunday, July 21, when he will appear in the Nature Park from noon to 4 p.m. The Shell Factory will offer free admission for up to three children and a 5-by-7 photo with St. Nick at half price with a coupon.
Santa will also have carriage rides with the kids on weekend afternoons.
This, along with many other events, continue the Shell Factory's very successful approach of making it a family attraction year round instead of a seasonal tourist destination.
"This year should be a bigger event than ever because we started out so well," said Marketing Director Rick Tupper. "We have such a large local crowd coming here now it's going to be busier. Locals and families is our whole direction now.
The Shell Factory stores are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Shell Factory is at 2787 N. Tamiami Trail in North Fort Myers. For more info , call 995-2141.