“We have a lot of hunters, outdoorsy types out in the area,” said Dorene Hewins, a supervisor at Brentwood Ace Hardware on Brentwood Boulevard, where she’s worked for the past five years. “It’s a neat little gift to decorate the house with.”
The sticker price hovers around $75 but that’s a small sum to pay compared to what some locals spend to spruce up their homes for Christmas. According to Hewins, tabs for holiday decorations range from $100 or less to upward of $1,000, depending on the size of the home and budget.
“It adds up if you think about the lights, the clips, the lawn ornaments – it’s really up to you and how much work you want to put into it,” said Hewins, her bright red hair spilling out of a sparkly Santa hat. “We get all types here.”
But one thing a lot of folks are snatching up in a hurry this year: LED holiday lights. They’re pricier, sure, but they’re also longer lasting and more energy efficient than their incandescent counterparts.
ACE has offered them for a few years now, but this is the first season some sets have come with replacement bulbs, Hewins noted. Target, Home Depot, Kohl’s and Lowe’s also sell them.
The LED lights come in styles such as snowflakes, icicles, multicolored and, of course, plain white. Since the LEDs shine so brightly, the white lights give off a blueish tint. “Think of the headlights on some newer cars,” Hewins said. “That’s kind of what these look like.”
If that blue-white glow isn’t your thing, Hewins suggests sticking to the colored LED lights, which the packaging says saves 75 percent more electricity. Otherwise, grab a box of incandescent – those have a pretty decent lifespan if you pack them carefully.
But the most popular items this year aside from the staples – lights, hangers and power cords – are eye-catching gems like a sparkly faux mistletoe sprig fastened to a fist-sized crystal.
“These are selling like hotcakes,” Hewins said. “And they’re beautiful. They come with a little tag that tells the mistletoe story.” They cost about $14 each and can hang from a tree, an entryway or anywhere else in the house.
At Target, Kohl’s and other area chains, fake pine trees are a big seller despite their higher price. That’s true at ACE, too, Hewins said: “I think people are investing more in this because it pays off in the long run. Not just for the tree but for other decorations – people want stuff they can re-use next year.”
In her own house, Hewins displays her mini holiday village annually. Other long-lasting trimmings good for more than one use include window stickers, lit-up reindeer lawn ornaments, blow-up Santas and snowman-shaped poinsettia stands.
“People are buying a lot of durable items because they know they can use it again,” Hewins said. “I leave some of mine up all year.”
As the economy picks up, Hewins has noticed an increase in spending for decking the halls, the eaves, the trees and banisters. A few local stores say the same – that they expect people to spend more this year compared to 2009 and 2010, when the nation was in the thick of a credit crisis.
“It’s getting back to normal,” Hewins agreed.
To kick-start the season, ACE will host holiday parties in which customers can take 20 percent off all purchases from 5 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Brentwood, Antioch, Pittsburg and Oakley branches. The event includes visits from Santa Claus, refreshments and games for the kids.
“It’s a great way to get some ideas, advice and a little help shopping for your decorations,” Hewins said. “It’s a lot of fun.”