Photo credit Bronner's
Photo credit

Step into Michigan’s magical world where it’s Christmas 361 days a year.

MICHIGAN—It’s special when a state can claim any title as “world’s largest” anything. But in Michigan, our most beloved “world’s largest” is the largest Christmas store you can find: Bronner’s in Frankenmuth.

At Bronner’s, it’s Christmas 361 days a year. The massive store covering 2.2 acres was the life’s work of Wally Bronner. Wally started Bronner’s in 1945 and kept the Christmas spirit alive until his death in 2008. His children and grandchildren, though, carry on Wally’s love of Christmas. Frankenmuth is definitely a Christmas-loving town, but Bronner’s is the heart of that passion.

Here are 12 facts you may not have known about Bronner’s.

1. Bronner’s rocks the “Gifts Under $20” category.

Two-thirds of Bronner’s inventory is sold for less than $20. Perfect for Secret Santa. Most ornaments are around $10, ranging from as cheap as $1.98 up to $60 for collectible glass ornaments.

2. The Bronner’s staff personalizes more than 400,000 ornaments every year.

Some of the most popular custom ornaments are milestone ornaments, such as first Christmas as a couple, baby’s first Christmas, and ornaments celebrating and commemorating beloved pets.

3. Famous people love to visit Bronner’s, including politicians.

Some of Bronner’s most well-known guests include former Michigan Governors John Engler and James Blanchard, former First Lady Laura Bush, former Vice President Mike Pence, and Marla Maples Trump, the former wife of former President Donald Trump and mother of Tiffany Trump.

4. It costs thousands of dollars to keep the power on.

If you thought you were angry at your electric bill, imagine a monthly bill to the tune of $30,000. That’s about how much it costs per month to keep Bronner’s many Christmas lights on.

5. Founder Wally Bronner was a drum major.

Current and former band kids will relate to this one. The original “Bronner,” Wally Bronner, played the saxophone in the concert band and was a drum major for the marching band. He was in the Class of 1945 at Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw. His eventual bride, Irene, was also a music teacher.

6. Each decorated tree contains a Nativity ornament.

Bronner’s strong Christian foundation receives a small nod on every tree. Though Bronner’s salesroom has more than 300 decorated trees, the Nativity is represented on everyone. Next time you visit, see if you can find them!

7. One current Bronner’s trend? Gnomes.

In Nordic folklore, Christmas gnomes are known as “Nisse.” Google Trends reports that searches for Christmas gnomes have been increasing since 2019. The trend also seems to be catching on in Michigan, according to the trends tracked by Bronner’s. They feature 24 gnome-related items in their catalog. Perhaps gnomes are about to become more than just lawn ornaments.

8. The weekend after Thanksgiving is the busiest time of year.

Michiganders do a fantastic job supporting Bronner’s for Small Business Saturday. As many as 50,000 guests walk through the Bronner’s doors in the post-Thanksgiving weekend. 

9. Bronner’s has its own chapel, and it’s the replica of a European chapel.

The Silent Night Memorial Chapel replicates the Austrian chapel where “Silent Night” was first sung in 1818. The chapel is open daily and free to enter, though it is not available for ceremonies.

10. Cardinals are basically a Christmas bird.

Although the state bird may be a robin, the cardinal is one of the more popular themes of merchandise sold at Bronner’s. This could be because of the cardinal’s symbolic connection to denizens of heaven, including angels and departed relatives. It could also be due to its vivid red color and aesthetic appeal in holiday decor.

11. The Bronner’s merchandise is multicultural.

Among Bronner’s many ornaments, the collection also includes ornaments that say “Merry Christmas” in more than 40 languages. The displays include decorations and gifts from 35 different nations. Bronner’s program center also includes 570 Nativities from 65 nations.

12. Over two million people visit Bronner’s every year.

If we assume all of the visitors are from Michigan, that’s enough to make up one-fifth of Michigan’s statewide population.