Christmastime is one of the busiest shopping seasons with consumers filling stores and spending at a more rapid pace than any other time of the year. Yet Christmas itself is also a major merchandising opportunity with thousands of companies producing Christmas-themed items to entice buyers. One of the most popular and successful wholesalers and designers of Christmas merchandise is the Kurt Adler Company.
Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2016, the Kurt Adler Company is proud to display some of the loveliest Christmas products on the market. They are especially well regarded for their gorgeous nutcracker collection created by Holly Adler (who is of no relation to the Adler company founder). With a broad range of products and collections that include ornaments, table-pieces, stockings, trees, wreaths, lights, advent calendars, candles, decorative boxes, water globes and more, Kurt S. Adler, Inc. showcases talented designers and over 50 iconic licenses with products from some 150 factories around the world. The goal of Kurt S. Adler, Inc. is to provide retailers with quality merchandise at reasonable prices.
Since the 1940s, Kurt Adler has been importing items from Europe and the Far East and is credited with helping Americans garner a true flair during the holidays. Snow globes, ornaments, stockings and nutcrackers became staples of the brand. By the 1970’s, holiday decorating had been transformed into a fashion business with ornaments crafted in country colors. According to the official website:
Nutcrackers and other collectibles were ushered in during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Santa was transformed into a fun-loving character that enjoyed hobbies such as windsurfing and skiing. The nutcracker was reinvented, as Merlin “The Magician” and other famous legends became collectibles. By the late 1990’s, successes included Polonaise™ blown-glass ornaments, Luxor™ Egyptian glass, bubble-blowers, icicle lights and limited editions. Many have received the highest accolades in the industry. The rapid pace of product development continued after the millennium. Customers welcomed mixed media ornaments including Carolin’ Critters™ plush animals, nostalgic decorations from The Early Years™ retro collection and unique electronic novelty decorations. More recent innovations include animatronics, fiber optic trees, interactive advent calendars and synchronized musical decorations.
In the past decade Kurt Adler’s Hollywood Nutcrackers™ collection has been some of the most highly sought-after and popular items. These nutcrackers are whimsical and feature a variety of designs that put a unique, vibrant, memorable twist on traditional nutcrackers. They also tend to be quite shiny and glittery–elements that work well in the Christmas season.
Recently company President, Clifford Adler spoke to the Examiner about the company’s history with Christmas décor and its forthcoming milestones:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): What inspired the beginning of the Kurt Adler Company and why were Christmas decorations the primary focus?
Clifford Adler (C.A.): My father, Kurt Adler, started after WWII by importing and exporting items (non-Christmas) to and from Europe – basically anything he could get his hands on, from umbrellas to pineapples to porcelain giftware. Eventually, he focused exclusively on importing Christmas decorations from Italy and Germany, and is credited with bringing a European flair to Christmas in America.
M.M.: Currently, about how many items do you offer? Are all products developed in-house?
C.A.: We offer approximately 7,000 SKUs. But many of those SKUs are assortments of 2, 3 and 4, so there are really about 20,000 items. Most of the products are developed either by our in house designers or outside designers.
M.M.: So far, which products have been particularly popular?
C.A.: Our Holly Adler nutcrackers have met with great success in the market, as have our Steinbach limited editions. We also have established a beautiful collection of glass called Noble Gems that grows in popularity every year. Our themes change every year and are sought after, because customers are always looking for something new. Our licenses (e.g. Sesame Street, Coca-Cola, Despicable Me, My Little Pony, Paw Patrol, Star Wars, and Doctor Who to name just a few) remain very strong.
M.M.: You make some of the most beautiful and impressive nutcrackers I have ever seen. How did Holly Adler become involved in this process?
C.A.: Holly Adler (no relation to the Adlers of Kurt S Adler, Inc.) originally designed ornaments for us. She had dabbled in nutcrackers, as did many of our designers. When the first small collection took off, we expanded the group and it has been a big hit!
M.M.: To date, how many nutcrackers do you offer? Which is the most elaborate and/or expensive?
C.A.: We offer over 400 nutcrackers. Our Steinbach limited edition nutcrackers are the most expensive (retailing for $400) because they are hand-made in Germany; however, some of the Hollywood Nutcrackers are also quite elaborate, but less expensive.
M.M.: Are there any types of merchandise that you haven’t worked with yet but hope to soon?
C.A.: We have been involved with almost any type of merchandise and materials that one can think of; however, we are always looking throughout the world for new things that will work.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience working with the Kurt Adler company?
C.A.: It is rewarding working with such creative people and then each year seeing retailers (and ultimately their customers) responding favorably to our new introductions. Some of the most rewarding moments for me are when I visit friends’ homes during the holidays and see Kurt Adler ornaments on their trees.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a holiday décor designer?
C.A.: The advice to an aspiring designer would be to design from your heart – don’t design necessarily what you think people will like, but what you like. Our best designers have come out of that philosophy and design with a passion for Christmas.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
C.A.: We are very proud to be celebrating our 70th Anniversary in 2016!
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The company’s headquarters are in New York and its distribution center is in New Jersey. With a dozen conveniently located showrooms throughout the country, Christmas is never far away! To learn more about the Kurt Adler Company visit their official website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.