Ornaments of all shapes, sizes and time periods hang from branches of a white plastic Christmas tree in the window at Sample Pleasures antique shop in downtown Flowery Branch.
Amassing such a unique collection has been no easy task, either. Sample Pleasures owner Janet Upchurch has been collecting them since she can remember.
In fact, collecting vintage ornaments and other antiques turned into Upchurch into a business owner.
“You gotta do what you love. If you don’t, it’s not fun,” Upchurch said. “That’s my mantra.”
Therefore, she quit her job as a manager for Road Atlanta and bought the corner shop on the downtown strip of Flowery Branch.
“I wanted to do something different,” Upchurch said.
She had a 5-year plan for the store closest to the red caboose and train track, but has stayed at 5504 Main St. in Flowery Branch for 23 years.
This holiday season, her business is booming since vintage ornaments are making a comeback and selling like hot cakes, Upchurch said.
Sample Pleasures has collectible ornaments to meet every person’s palate. They range in price from $5 to $99.
Some of her ornaments came from other collectors who were weeding out their supply. Others were given to her from families with a dead relative who collected them.
A handblown Santa ornament from Italy was her absolute favorite, before she dropped it.
“I broke my own heart,” Upchurch said, noting a friend tried to repair it but was unsuccessful.
Other ornaments hold a different kind of significance to the woman.
Upchurch actually traveled to Germany when she heard the Berlin Wall was coming down in 1989. While there, she gathered some ornaments to commemorate the historic moment. She even has a few from the then-East Germany. Those she will never part with, she said.
She also has five “super rare” kugels, which are ornaments made out of heavy mercury glass.
“They are very sought after by collectors,” Upchurch said. “They are harder to find.”
Baubles such as them cost $100 to $300 on eBay. Upchurch is selling hers for $89 to $99. She has ones shaped like grape clusters, and they come in several colors. Her favorite is a purple one.
Worldly ornaments appear to be a theme in her Upchurch’s shop, too. For fun, she has collected ornaments from Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, Britain and the United States.
She has received an assortment of ornaments from Japan that date back to the 1950s. All are intricately handmade with pipe stems and most are incredibly rare, Upchurch said. The skinny figures are all different from each other, too.
“The workmanship on these is just outstanding and so much better (than storebought),” she said.
Some of the ornaments also are in classic Christmas styles, such as little Santas and elves. Others are more unique like a cowboy and Native American set.
She also has some Snoopy and Charlie Brown figures from the 1960s. Upchurch said she originally had four times the amount she has left, but they have sold quickly.
“They’re real popular this year,” Upchurch said.
On a smaller tree next to the antique tree, a few rows of branches are dedicated to painted Korean figures with flat backs from 1977.
Upchurch also has a few other trees in her shop, one of which she has reserved for “fun, funky and fishing” ornaments and another for woodland-type pieces.
Another tree is dedicated to children with all ornaments about $1.50 or less so kids can buy them for their parents.
“The kids have so much fun picking them out,” Upchurch said. “They’re special for them because they picked them out.”