This holiday party never ends!
Schulenburg is the sole owner of Monty’s, though his sisters, Karen Allen and Ruth Schulenburg, help out with buying women’s clothing and accessories. Two years ago, Dave Martin joined the team, and Schulenburg is training him to take over the business. Martin, who used to operate a fork lift in Michigan, insists that nothing in his background has prepared him to work with art or retail. But he says he genuinely likes people and is willing to learn from them.
Attention to detail is Schulenburg’s mantra. Asked what he looks for when purchasing products for the shop, he says, “It’s always the same: the colors, the painting, the detail in the faces.” Whether it’s colorful Christopher Radko ornaments, or Foundations angels with faces reminiscent of porcelain dolls, or the slightly lopsided grins on the polka-dotted raku Happy Fish, every piece is richly detailed. Artisans who pay attention to detail get Schulenburg’s attention. For example, the shop owner recently agreed to sell the handmade wreaths of a woman who first stopped in to peruse his current inventory and then created wreaths that echo design elements in his other collections.
Customers entering Monty’s are often visibly stunned at the sheer volume of Christmas items, which range from high-end Christopher Radko pieces—the largest Radko collection in the Northeast, Schulenburg says—to the only-in-Provincetown ornaments of hunky mermen. For 22 years Schulenburg has been designing a Provincetown ornament each year, which Radko produces in a limited edition. This year the ornament is a lighthouse; others have included a ruddy-cheeked Santa emerging from a scallop shell and a decorated Pilgrim Monument. He began this project with a run of 150 pieces and is now up to 500, and they always sell out, he says.
During a visit to the store earlier this year, Sarah Terilli of Providence, visiting Provincetown with her husband, Glen, had a tough time picking out a Radko design, but eventually she settled on a Nutcracker ornament. She said her in-laws got her interested in Radko. “They’re huge collectors,” she says. “When I first saw them, I thought they were beautiful, the detail and the colors. And they do have a great selection here.”
In another corner of the shop, retro TVs in a variety of sizes, complete with rabbit ears on top, play Christmas songs while animated Christmas scenes unfold on the screen—children skate on a frozen pond, Santa and his reindeer soar over mountains, and miniature houses covered in lights sparkle against the snow.
“A family comes in, and they’ll walk over to those televisions,” Martin says. “The kids will notice it first. Then I turn it on, and the father is usually the one with his mouth open. He’s 38 or 40 years old, and he’s acting like he’s 8 years old. That’s why I like working here. You see that transformation when people come in expecting an ordinary store, and they just turn into kids. … I’ve had a couple of people give me a hug or a kiss on the cheek as they’re leaving.”
“Because, you know,” adds Schulenburg, “Christmas is a happy time.”
Monty’s is at 350 Commercial Street in Provincetown. For more information, call 508-364-0805, or visit montysprovincetown.com.
Ellen Albanese is a freelance writer
and editor who lives in Waquoit.
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