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Excavation is in full swing on the Christmas Place store site on North Mt. Juliet Road, across from Sellars Station, near the railroad tracks. The projected opening date for the store was Thanksgiving weekend, but COVID-19 restrictions and the March tornado slowed things down, and now the store will open next spring or summer. LAURIE EVERETT

The Christmas Place in Mt. Juliet will miss this Christmas.

The timelines on construction of The Christmas Place store planned for the heart of Mt. Juliet were pushed back a bit, according to the operators of the year-round Christmas-themed shopping destination. 

Next spring or summer is currently the target opening date.

Groundbreaking for the 12,000-square-foot centerpiece store took place September 2019, with a projected opening originally set for Thanksgiving. It’s a $3 million investment. 

Toby and Karen Barnes, along with daughter, Kristin, and son-in-law, Mark Jackson, have a sister store, the Incredible Christmas Place, at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

Toby Barnes is now semi-retired, and Kristin Jackson is CEO of the company. 

“The timeline has changed, but we are moving forward and excited,” said Kristin Jackson. “Things were initially postponed with the tornado and COVID-19 pandemic.”

She said while they planned to open in time for the Christmas season around the Thanksgiving weekend, construction was delayed. 

“We didn’t want to rush the opening,” said Kristin Jackson. “We want to put things together in the right way. It was an internal decision.”

And while they missed the golden time to open for Christmas this year, Kristin Jackson said all is well.

“Everyone loves Christmas, even year-round,” she said. “We’ve weathered other recessions and feel we are uniquely positioned and still are blessed.”

She said Christmas is not going away, and this delay does not take away their excitement. Dirt continues to move on the three-acre site. Currently, ground prep is in the works, along with excavation.

“The building is scheduled to be delivered in January,” said Kristin Jackson. “We are moving forward as if nothing has happened.”

The site plan calls for five lanes for tourist buses and about 65 parking places. 

Kristin Jackson said part of the footprint will be a four-story bell tower that can play holiday music year-round. 

“We have already begun buying, planning and constructing displays for the new store,” she said. “We have an amazing product selection and themes planned and cannot wait to unveil it next year.”

Spokesperson for the Christmas Place, Chad Netherland, said the store planned for Mt. Juliet will be a smaller version than the massive store in Pigeon Forge at 40,000 square feet and in its 34th year.

“But in itself, [the Mt. Juliet store] will be a regional draw, as well,” he said. “It’s such a cute town and a great paring with draws from Metro Nashville and way beyond.

“Mt. Juliet is near and dear to their hearts. This Mt. Juliet store may not have as much as the one in Pigeon Forge, but it will still have the same variety of Christmas trees, ornaments and all things Christmas from head to toe. All the best of the best. One hundred percent Christmas.”

And while the store will include seasonal nods, the focus is the merriment of the Christmas season.

What’s unique to the Christmas Place is they have design teams on hand to customize wreaths, garlands and anything one can imagine. And they ship everywhere.

“I guess the takeaway is that everyone loves Christmas, and our store is not like your typical home-goods-type store,” Netherland said. “It’s unique and is an experience, and people wander through and pick up great themes and ideas to replicate at their homes. We create one-of a kind displays and rooms and layouts.”

To say it’s elaborate would be an understatement. The bell tower at Pigeon Forge is designed after a German village, and there’s one planned for Mt. Juliet, too. 

“We will bring a little of that to Mt. Juliet,” said Netherland. 

Kristin Jackson said the Incredible Christmas Place store in Pigeon Forge was closed about a month due to state mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve recently opened back up there,” she said. “We are seeing a little life come back to Pigeon Forge.”

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