Acworth business hopes window display keeps it on the nice list

The Woodstock Market in Acworth, which has been recognized for showcasing one of the top 50 holiday window displays in the world by an industry magazine, is using some "Nutcracker" magic to try to keep its standing.

Woodstock Market has been on the list by VMSD (Visual Merchandising Store Design) magazine for the past two years. Considering it is part of a list that includes Lord & Taylor in New York and Neiman Marcus in Chicago, it's an impressive feat.

Even more impressive is that it’s a big, spectacular window handcrafted on a small-business budget.

With dancers, mice, a castle, crackling fireplace and many other elements carved out of foam (and then sanded and painted) combined with hand-built motors, and hand-carved wooden boxes to frame each scene, the Woodstock Market presents “The Nutcracker Prince,” stretching almost 80 feet.

“It’s amazing what they are able to produce,” said customer Bruce Gumbel of east Cobb. “My wife, Tina, and I make a special trip to see it, and it’s gorgeous and gets you in the holiday spirit.”

Woodstock Market, a 50,000-square-foot vintage and interiors shop, rents space to dealers who stock and maintain their booths. The market is filled with crafters, pickers, jewelry makers, designers, decorators, and artists selling old, new, handcrafted and repurposed furniture.

Three women (Karen Bennett, co-owner of Woodstock Market, and two of the artists with booths in the market: Cecile Steinway, a painter and owner of Woodstock Corn Hole Games, and Angie Prosser, also an artist and owner of Anjiland Designs) designed and assembled all of the pieces.

“No big-box cookie cutter Christmas decorations here. It’s all small business, independent creativity,” said Lisa Welty, co-owner of the Woodstock Market, who also lends a hand to help sand and paint the foam pieces.

The creative process begins in September, with Bennett, Steinway and Prosser spending close to 800 hours working on the project. It starts with sketching designs and creating models for each window. They’ve designed and built a special holiday window every year since Bennett and Welty moved their business to its current location (5500 Bells Ferry Road, Acworth) in 2012.

Their first holiday display in 2013 was "Candyland Christmas" complete with giant peppermint trees, a gingerbread house and lots of lollipops. Last year, "Santa's Steampunk Workshop" featured a giant clock counting down the hours to Christmas, and a conveyor belt, big gears and a hot balloon sled for Santa. They were named in the top 50 VMSD magazine both of the past two years. They were judged based on photos submitted. The owners plan to submit photos of this year's creation, and they won't know if they made the cut this year until early next year.

At the big reveal of this year’s display in November, close to 300 people showed up for an event complete with hot chocolate and carolers.

Visiting the Christmas display has already turned into a holiday tradition for many customers. This year’s window features four scenes, beginning with a godfather telling stories to children, followed by Clara in bed dreaming about a battle taking place between her toy soldiers and mice, then Clara getting a sled to head to the castle. The final scene features Clara dancing with the prince at the castle. A windshield wiper motor was used to make the dancers spin around.

MORE: AJC Holiday Guide

MORE: AJC Holiday guide to lights, where to take out of town guests, Christmas recipes and much more.

Gumbel said he loves not only the picturesque scene but is amazed by the level of detail and the ability to add movement to the scenes.

Gumbel said he and his wife are big fans of the Woodstock Market, and shop there for decorations, jewelry and even furniture throughout the year.

“I think the best part of the window is every year they make Christmas so special and every year it is more unique and more over the top,” said Tiffany Sedlacek of Dallas, Ga. “It feels like what I imagine goes on in New York City with the snow and over-the-top decorations.”