A lot of people know the Frank Woolworth name. However, not many people know the role he played in bringing Christmas ornaments to the U.S. Early on, Christmas trees were decorated with simple things like fruit and candy canes. The first glass ornaments were made in Lauscha, Germany by Hans Greiner. He made glass beads and figures to hang on trees. They were so popular that a host of glassblowers started making ornaments in the mid-18th century. Glass ornaments from Lauscha became a status symbol of the day. Legend has it that Queen Victoria decorated her tree with German ornaments. Soon, Germany was exporting ornaments all over Europe.
In the fall of 1880, a traveling salesman stopped at Frank Woolworth’s store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The salesman tried to sell German ornaments to Woolworth. The store owner didn’t like the idea. He thought Americans would never pay for something that “didn’t do anything.” Fortunately, he changed his mind and bought one case of decorations. The merchant was surprised when the ornaments sold out in one day. Woolworth had one supplier in New York City, and the pair made a fortune from ornament sales. Further, it wasn’t long before factories were opening in the U.S. Consumers don’t have to search for ornaments today. There are ornament shops everywhere, including online. For example, The OrnamentShop.com sells all sorts of unique ornaments.
Woolworth launched a store in Liverpool in 1909, featuring ornaments in an ad for the opening. The astute businessman introduced ornaments that everyone could afford. Woolworth sold ornaments for a penny each and they flew off the shelves. He is also credited with introducing the finial, a ornament for the top of the tree. The ornament clipped on the tree’s top branch and had a slot for a candle. By the 20th century, Woolworth had imported over 200,000 ornaments and made $25 million on ornaments alone. In fact, every store had an ornament display year-round. Today, industry insiders say ornaments are a best-selling seasonal item each year. Woolworth introduced ornaments in this country and he made them affordable. Ornaments are a great way to express one’s personality or support a favorite sports team.