HUNTERSVILLE – Christmas lasts all year for Cornelius resident Chris Boutin.

For 17 years, his parents ran one of largest Christmas stores in the Atlanta area. Now his family is bringing the tradition to the Lake Norman area with Christmas in the Village at Birkdale.

“This has been a lifelong dream for me,” Boutin said. 

He grew up servicing customers on the weekends and carefully helping his mother arrange inventory in their stores – three decorated historic homes outside of Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta. 

“This area of Atlanta was a destination,” Boutin said. “I knew that when we settled here, Lake Norman and Birkdale had the same destination quality that could benefit from the magic of a Christmas store.”

Boutin says the store naturally puts people in a good mood. Walls are lined with rows of ornaments, trees cascade with decorations, and brightly colored wreaths adorn the walls above the register.

The store will carry lines not available at nearby retail outlets, such as Jim Shore Santa figurines, Fontanini Nativity sets and thousands of specialty ornaments.

The most popular ornament sold in the store so far is a Princess Crown, a favorite of his four-year-old daughter, Julia. Other popular ornaments have been sports teams, boats personalized with Lake Norman, and multicultural figurines that are not commonly carried in mainstream outlets.

The store’s inventory will change weekly. In addition, the store will soon display a Christmas village of Department 56 Lighted Houses.

Santa Claus will make an appearance at the store 1-5 p.m. Sept. 21. Children can sit on Santa’s lap as parents take pictures. The event includes children’s activities, including free snow cones.

“We want to build awareness in the community that we are here,” co-owner Ansley Boutin said. “This is a great way for parents to get photos early for Christmas Cards and start getting ideas for the season.”