Next to Christmas, Easter is the busiest holiday season of the year for Lori Gilstrap Was.
Was, manager of Heavenly Dove Christian Books in Cumming, said she and her staff begin preparing each year several weeks before the holiday.
“We start about four to six weeks out,” she said. “The cards we put out right after Valentine’s Day.”
The holiday, which is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, holds special meaning for the store’s Christian customer base.
“It’s the holiest day of the year,” said employee Brenda Sams. “It’s even more holy than Christmas because any baby can be born, but only one came and died for our sins.”
To celebrate the special day, Was said the store’s customers tend to stock up on a number of items.
“Bibles with people’s names engraved are the most popular,” she said. “A lot of people get those for their kids’ Easter baskets.”
Other top selling items, she said, include “Resurrection Eggs,” plastic Easter eggs filled with small items representing different phases of Christ’s life, and children’s Easter-themed books, movies and stickers.
“Those are all really popular with Sunday school teachers,” Was said.
For many families, the Easter celebration includes a large meal.
That makes for a busy week at Cumming’s Honey Baked Ham store and BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Doug Griffith, manager of Honey Baked Ham, said the store will take on extra hands today through Saturday.
“Friday and Saturday [before Easter] are usually pretty busy, so we try to get people to come in on Thursday,” Griffith said. “This holiday crew won’t be quite as large as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we’ll still have several extra people.”
Griffith’s customers buy holiday hams, turkeys, side dishes and desserts from the store.
“Our traditional bone-in half ham is the hero of Easter [meals],” he said. “That’s our core product.”
At BJ’s, customers also load up on ham and other dinner items this week, said manager Matt Goggins.
“Bakery and meat products and all the perishable items are big this week,” he said.
Goggins said customers can find spring-themed cookies and cupcakes in the bakery.
“We also have several different designs for Easter cakes that they can personalize,” he said.
Honey Baked Ham offers several Easter desserts as well, Griffith said, including coconut and lemon cream cakes.
Both stores have plenty of goodies for children’s Easter baskets too.
“We bring in a lot of new products like candies and stuff at this time of year,” Griffith said.
Added Goggins: “We have some plush items and chocolate bunnies.”
Like Griffith, Goggins is expecting big crowds later this week.
“Definitely Saturday will be huge because we’re closed Sunday,” he said. “It’s one of our busiest holidays for food. Not as busy as Christmas or Thanksgiving, but a lot of people will be cooking or maybe grilling out for the first time of the year.”
Griffith said Honey Baked Ham’s goal is to help people not have to cook Easter dinner.
“Our biggest focus is to allow people to put their focus on spending time with their families and let us do the cooking,” he said.