“For me, this is my equivalent of seeing Elvis,” said Aliza McVicker of northwest Ohio during her most recent visit to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. Aliza has been a Bronner’s super fan since her first visit to Bronner’s in the 1970s when she was 9 years old. “I remember seeing a lot of red and green dirndls (staff uniforms) and thinking, ‘When I can drive, I’m coming back.'”
I first met Aliza in late 2008 when she stopped by reception to share a photo of herself with Bronner’s late originator, Wally Bronner, and her mom Elaine, taken at Bronner’s in 2007.
“Christmas is my favorite holiday. My mom worked at a Hallmark card shop in the 1960s, which likely fueled her love for Christmas and influenced mine. It was the best time of the year. Dad didn’t work over the Christmas holiday, nobody argued or got mad at each other. Everyone got along.”
“I’ve probably visited Bronner’s 40 times in the past 20 years.”
Her husband Jeff has been supportive.
“Sometimes when the kids were young he’d say, “Be ready at such-and-such a time, but not tell me where we were going. He’d pack us all in the car, and he would bring me here (Bronner’s).” Jeff would often keep their boys busy at the hotel swimming pool, giving Aliza hours and hours to wander and shop Bronner’s.
“Other times Jeff would call and book a hotel room for me in Frankenmuth and say, ‘Go!'”
We sat down in Season’s Eatings snack area to talk. “That’s our booth back there,” she said, pointing to a corner booth. “My kids have grown up in that booth. If we came to Bronner’s and someone was sitting in that booth, my kids would say, ‘Mom, somebody’s sitting in our booth. And we would wait until they finished and our booth opened up before we would sit down.”
I wasn’t surprised when Aliza headed for section 8 and told me she wanted to get a wedding ornament personalized for a new friend she had just made while attending company training in Detroit. He was engaged and would be married soon. How else should you mark a special event like a wedding?
I asked Aliza if she has a favorite Christmas item she collects. She told me she collects the Department 56 “A Christmas Carol” village, Precious Moments and Hummels. Her favorite ornaments are those from the Old World Christmas line.
What does Aliza like best about visiting Bronner’s?
“There’s a feeling you get when you come in. You know what Wally (Bronner) stood for and that’s what I stand for. It’s the basis of the business. A Nativity (ornament) on every tree. Keeping the birth of Christ the center of Christmas. All three of our kids were raised on this.”