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Local firm specializes in season
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Ashley Hollis of Christmas Lights Etc. checks a branch on one of the south Forsyth-based distributor’s many pre-lite Christmas trees. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Want to show off your holiday decorating skills?

Christmas Lights Etc. is taking entries in its 2013 Christmas photo contest. Participants will compete for a chance to win one of three shopping sprees of $500, $1,500 or $2,500, as well as weekly prizes of $100. Contestants can enter to one of two categories: best exterior Christmas house or best indoor Christmas tree. To enter, go to www.christmaslightsetc.com.

As its name alone suggests, you can’t be a Scrooge to work at one south Forsyth business.

Christmas Lights Etc., on Curie Drive near the Fulton County line, has been supplying people around the country with the twinkling objects and other seasonal essentials since 2000.

Founded by Forsyth residents Chris Miller and William Hale, Christmas Lights Etc. is one of three online distributors housed in the south Forsyth site, to which Miller and Hale located in 2007.

The other online businesses are Yard Envy, created in 2006, which specializes in items such as garden décor, birdhouses and feeders, and Mr. Costumes, established in 2008, which distributes a wide range of costumes for adults and children.

Due to the nature of two of the three distributors, the holiday season is the busiest time of year for the south Forsyth business.

“Generally, as you would expect, we start getting busy but not super busy in October,” said Hillary Zody, director of marketing for the company. “Then typically the week before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend, people start going crazy.”

Unlike many retailers, Zody said the online Christmas store specializes in both LED and more traditional incandescent lights.

“The difference between the LED and incandescent is pretty big,” she said. “For example, both of these are called ‘warm white,’ but the incandescent is more yellow and the LED is more of a bright white.”

And don’t think white is the only color option. Christmas Lights Etc. carries hundreds of hues in various shapes and sizes.

Of course all those have to have something to go onto. That’s why the retailer also specializes in artificial Christmas trees.

“Our bread and butter are the lights, as you can guess by our name,” Zody said. “But you really can’t not do trees and be a Christmas shop. You just can’t.”

The retailer’s showroom at the Curie Drive location, which is open to the public Monday through Saturday during the holiday season, is a little like a Christmas tree forest. There are short and tall trees, fat and skinny ones. Some even have pine cones or snow on their branches.

Zody explained that a wide range of trees is available to appeal to any shopper’s Christmas memories.

“Christmas trees are the most emotional non-big ticket item you’ll ever buy,” she said. “Most of them are bought based on what people had when they were growing up. They’re very nostalgic.

“That’s why you see 50 or more different kinds. One represents what they have up North, one’s out West, one’s what they have in Minnesota or Maine or whatever.”

While they’re artificial, Zody said Christmas Lights Etc.’s trees are far from the typical variety.

“Our trees look and feel real,” she said, noting they are crafted using a special process.

“They actually make molds of real trees and use them to create the branches of our trees.

“The only thing you don’t get is the scent, but you can throw an evergreen smelly candle nearby and it’s just like having a real tree.”

The company also specializes in trees for large public displays.

Called ring trees, they use a structure of internal circular pieces that can be added to create has much height and width as a customer would like.

“Due to that ring structure, which is made of galvanized steel, those trees aren’t going to be hampered by any sort of strong wind or weather,” Zody said. “They’re like the Eiffel Tower. You could climb on those ring structures like monkey bars. They’re really an engineering feat.”

The quality of the trees and other light products has caught the attention of many well-known individuals and businesses.

Zody said celebrities such as talk show host Wendy Williams, who recently decorated her entire set with Christmas Lights Etc. products, are customers.

In addition, retailers such as Macy’s and Old Navy have purchased trees for their large-scale displays.

“The Macy’s Lennox tree is ours, as well as the Macy’s Chicago location that used to be Marshall Fields, and their flagship store in San Francisco,” Zody said.

Also, the tree in Rockefeller Center in New York has been adorned for several years with lights from the company.

The company has sold products to other big names such as Six Flags, Walt Disney World, the University of Alabama and Hard Rock hotels and casinos.

Zody, who has been in the marketing field for more than 20 years, said working at the company never fails to bring out the childlike wonder of Christmas.

“I’ve seen my work on TV before, but I’m excited like I did it for the very first time every time I see our stuff,” she said. “When I see the Macy’s tree or the Rockefeller tree, I’m just so excited … I make everyone come in the room and see our stuff.

“It’s just amazing to see our stuff on TV, so that has not lost any of its shine or appeal.

“For me, it’s like seeing one of your kids or a dear friend on TV. It makes me grin from ear to ear every time.”