November 27, 2015
The Wonderful History of Byers’ Choice
Many years ago, Joyce and Bob Byers were visiting an antique store in London when Joyce found a series of porcelain figures, which captured the spirit of 19th Century England. These pieces appeared to step right from the pages of a Charles Dickens’ novel, and Joyce immediately fell in love with them.
Upon returning home, Joyce found a set of paper-mache choir figures which seemed to capture the true spirit of Christmas. After seeing these choir figures, she decided to try to create Caroling figures with the feeling of 19th Century England.
Joyce, who had a degree in fashion design, began working on the project with materials she had at home, including plaster, paper-mache, wire, paints, and various other fabrics. All of the figurines she produced were made with a singing posture, and Joyce called them “Carolers” to convey a connection both to Christmas and to Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
She took her Carolers to craft and antique shows. The Carolers sold out quickly, and as demand for the Carolers grew, the family found itself busier and busier. Soon the Carolers were overwhelming the dining room, so the garage had to be converted into a workshop.
In 1981, they hired “full-time help,” and the family hobby became a corporation. The facial characteristics, dress, materials of construction and finish details of the Carolers had also evolved into the common features by which The Carolers are now recognized.
Today, Byers’ Choice hires skilled craftsman and professionally trained artists. In order to meet a growing demand, it was necessary to make significant changes in both the way the product was manufactured. Joyce still sculpts all of the faces and designs most of the clothes for the Carolers. Furthermore, she oversees each Caroler through production.
Joyce is the creator of the Carolers, and continues to design and construct each of the new molds and attire we use for the Carolers today. No two Carolers are the same. Each artisan creates a unique character and personality in each figure by using a variety of techniques and materials. Each crafter leaves a little bit of “her” in every figure she touches. As many as ten people will work on one Caroler.
The core of the line is the Holiday Carolers & Shoppers. There are 100 pieces made in pairs to coordinate. The same patterned fabric may be used on the ladies/girls skirt or jacket to coordinate with the men/boys vest or jacket. The coordinating figures usually share the same color hat. Each of the coordinating Carolers are numbered on the back of the base, ex: 1 of 100.
The Specialty Carolers are derived from so many different places, as suggestions from fans, folklore, legends, traditions, and more. Byers’ Choice is very conscientious regarding the research it does on each of the pieces to make it as authentic as possible. Being aware of the storyline that compliments each Caroler is a very important aspect of selling the Carolers. The story or inspiration of each piece, many times, is what creates or enhances the romance for the customer.
Since 1986, Byers’ Choice has donated approximately 20% of its profits annually to various charitable organizations. The current facility is a 25-Acre Campus, which includes a “Visitors Center,”
award-winning gardens, and sculpture, and it attracts tens of thousands of visitors per year from all over the United States. Byers’ Choice is one of the last US made Christmas decoration companies in America, and is dedicated to keeping jobs and Caroler production in the United States.
Caroler accessories and top rated cool stuff available as well, along with the industry’s best Advent Calendars and Gingerbread Houses. This year we have introduced new categories of product, including Christmas Mice, as well as American made Popcorn Garland, Necklaces, and Ornaments.
The Byers’ Family is committed to offering a quality product for a fair price made in the USA!
Richard Schneider | Byers’ Choice Representative
From their site: Click Here.