The Suitcase Lady


September 8, 2020, 8:42 pm

I have never been a fan of Christmas shops that are open all your round. Shopping for Christmas decorations in August does not coincide with my desire to live in the moment. However, I am about to make an exception, a very big exception.

In the last century, Manitowoc, the city nearest our home, was the manufacturing center of aluminum Christmas trees. What I didn’t know was that Manitowoc also had the largest tinsel making factory in the world. Those sparkling days are long gone, or so everyone thought.

Last year, a developer bought the 100 year old American Tinsel Manufacturing Company building. It’s a massive, cream city brick, three-story, 90,000 square foot building situated in a pleasant residential neighborhood. The building was bought at auction, sight unseen, and is slated to be turned into apartments for low income or elderly residents.

When the developer actually stepped inside his building, he got a massive early Christmas present. 50,000 square feet was packed with boxes labeled “Santa’s Best”. The boxes contained more than 2,000 remote controlled Christmas trees, wreaths and other Christmas decorations. In all, over a million dollars of stored and abandoned inventory, enough to make Scrooge believe in Santa.

I suppose the apartments could be developed with a new twist: “Rent an apartment, all Christmas decorations included”. However, practicality dictates that this mother lode of holiday joy be removed before the conversion begins, and a giant liquidation sale has been scheduled. The developer must be a good guy because he has invited folks to bring their kids to visit his Christmas wonderland even if they can’t afford to buy anything. I must admit that Christmas radically out of season can be a good thing after all.

On a more serious note, as a past Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commissioner of 28 years, I am thrilled that this fine historic building is being saved and repurposed. The real Tinseltown will be remembered. And even though I am not in the market for a fake Christmas tree or life-size glowing reindeer, I plan on checking out the interior of this rescued building.

2 Comments for this entry