Hi everybody,

This being my first post, I'll start off by saying I'm glad to find a forum like this. Christmas has always been a "big deal" in our home as it is I'm sure for most of you. Well, you wouldn't be here, right? On the other hand, if you're a newbie like myself (numerically) but not as gung ho about Christmas, keep poppin' in, but with an open heart, mind, soul and eyes. (Oh yes, and let your eyes and heart play the role of your ears.)

NOW, my craft -- CRECHE BUILDING -- and inquiries about its place in the overall scheme of Christmas sales, etc. Forgive the awkwardness, but I'm trying hard not to step over any lines. I'm in the process of trying to obtain some funding for what's now a one-man creche-building shop, and this means, of course, I've got to come up with a "business plan," and do my homework. One of the questions centers on the overall status of the arts/crafts business I'd like to expand on. Well, outside of the
specialized woodcrafting Houses (yes they are deservedly dynastic!) in Oberammergau, Germany, Italy (Fontanini) and perhaps other areas in the Alps and Holy Land where creche stalls are made, I'm completely in the dark as to what the market looks like. These German Houses and Fontanini are "perennials," but I don't see much of the same potential in our country; which could be a good thing.

It's awfully discouraging to trudge into a Wallyworld in the months before Christmas knowing it'll have its ten dollar special (with figures, too) that looks like it came from the devil's own factory. Well, it may as well have since it has "Made In China" by a special arrangement with Wal-Mart, no less; which leaves Wal-Mart in the unenviable position of having to explain its dealings with the Red giant given China's ever-so-tolerant attitude towards Christians.

Just to make the creche stalls in various styles takes a considerable amount of time, never mind making figures. (However, most of mine have a consistent Germanic-"Eurocentric" look.)

I'm not convinced that nativity creches will ever "go out of style" but it sure seems like a lot of people, including church Sunday School volunteers, are -- to save a few bucks -- willing to settle for cheap-looking plastic or sloppily-made/glue-splotched wooden models --coming from overseas with precious fewer carrying "Made in Germany," "Made in Italy," or "Made in Austria" labels on them. So, is there a potential market for an "American school" to rise up and take its rightful place? I know Bill Egan's been a wonderful leader/teacher with Christmas International, and there's a Creche exhibit at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, CT, and the University of Dayton's Library has a terrific standing display of creche art.

But I'd like to know if there's potential to put more of this art where it belongs, in front of our children and grandchildren. (Far better to see them re-enact the Nativity than get hooked on Idio-games.)

Sorry to give you so much in my first do-drop-in, but a curious mind needs to know a few things fairly soon.

Thanks and glad to be here!Steven