Other Retailers Selling Model Village Collectables
Christmas Village Displays
Apart from the Christmas giants that are Lemax and Department 56, who between them manage to control much of this huge and somewhat seasonal market, model village collectables are offered for sale from a variety of different department stores, garden centres, DIY superstores, thrift stores, and gift and card shops. However, many of these retailers understandably only choose to stock the most popular lines that are likely to sell strongly during the relatively brief festive season, and so your choice may well be more limited than you would hope for.
Therefore, for the very best selection, you need to look online to see what is available and for sale, and most importantly, what suits your requirements. For instance, if you are planning a Charles Dickens-inspired village, then you won't really be happy if your local store only stocks snow-covered Mickey Mouse Disney houses. Many stockists choose to also sell their range of Lemax and Department 56 miniature houses online, often at slightly discounted warehouse prices, even when postage is included. Online retailers may choose to waive postage once your basket total exceeds a certain amount, and with these fully lit, porcelain buildings being so tempting and fairly expensive, it is easy to spend far more than you initially intended.
Shopping online means that it is easy to compare prices and discounts, so that you are able to confidently obtain the best deal and most competitive prices. Many websites are more than happy to price-match and this can be confirmed with a simple email.
'The early bird catches the worm' and this is particularly the case when shopping for Christmas village miniatures online. Many stockists add a range of houses and accessories to their websites as early as late September or at the beginning of October, with hefty discounts being advertised during their initial launch period.
And if you are buying a large quantity, then retailers will usually be more than happy to offer some kind of incentive for bulk orders, either reducing the overall price, including courier delivery or offering some desirable freebies.
Amazon is always a particularly convenient and popular website, with a huge choice of Christmas village accessories for sale. Numerous giftware companies are able to sell their wares through Amazon, using this website as the front-end to their business and evoking a feeling of both security and reliability.
Many village collectors favour the world-famous auction site of eBay. Those searching for Yuletide goodies on eBay will be able to choose between 'Buy It Now' listings and online auctions that finish on a set date and time. The benefit of using eBay for your purchases is that people frequently sell their old second-hand Lemax and Department 56 items, many of which have long been retired and discontinued, making them quite rare collectables and hard to come by.
Some sellers even put up their whole collection for sale as an auction lot (often because their children have grown up), for just a fraction of the original purchase price. This means that avid bargain hunters may be able to secure themselves an especially good deal, provided that second-hand, possibly un-boxed items, are acceptable.
If any of the porcelain houses are slightly damaged, then they are simple to repair, touch up or repaint. Most common are small chips on the roof, which can easily be disguised with a generous blob of white paint to replicate a patch of drifting snow. Alternatively, touch up with acrylic paint, mixed to subtly blend with the existing colour, or use a suitable coloured felt-tip pen for small chips. If you are buying second-hand moving Lemax buildings on eBay, it is essential that you are fully aware of their working condition and any potential electrical problems.
If Lemax and Department 56 buildings are proving to be too expensive for your budget, consider other brands, such as Carole Towne, Cobblestone Corners, David Winter, Hawthorne Village, Heartland Valley Village, Hummel, Konst Smide, Lenox, Lilliput Lane, Lumineo, Luville, Noma, Premier Decorations Limited, Santa's Workbench and Thomas Kinkade. Cheaper houses for sale at DIY stores and supermarkets often feature a battery compartment within the house. This means that the miniature house may need to be picked up to be switched on and off from the base, which is not always practical when placed at the back of a Christmas village and may involve some awkward leaning over.
Many cheaper alternatives can be a little 'gaudy' and 'garish' for a traditional Dickens village, with bright lights, gingerbread men and moving parts, such as a tiny moving railway train with Santa Claus at the front. However, when these are placed in a suitable position away from more traditional elements, they can still add to the overall effect of the display - it is all very much personal taste.
Photos of Christmas Village buildings and accessories for sale at a popular garden centre: