Tucked in behind big barn doors is one of Te Puke's hidden treasures - a festive wonderland that's open almost all year round.

"In Auckland we did a lot of outdoor grotto things at Christmas time and we'd have people coming by and looking at it and it was fantastic," Angela Thomson said.

"I really miss that. We decided to put that up in our house here in Te Puke and it was a good way of getting to know the community."

The grotto was so well received that Angela and her husband Phil decided to go one step further, opening the Aberdeen House Christmas Shed.


"It's somewhere people can come in and forget reality outside and just chill here, look around and feel like they're in a bit of a wonderland, a magical place."

And it turns out, a little Christmas cheer goes a long way.

"I've had quite a few customers come in who've been through some hard times and I've had a few comments from some of them saying, 'I've been really depressed lately but coming into the store just cheers me up immensely and when I walk out, I walk out with a smile on my face'. Those are the kinds of things you want to hear from people."

But with many retailers struggling, how does a shop based entirely around Christmas survive?

"At the moment it's run mostly on love. It's not making money but it's bringing joy and happiness to so much people, so I want to keep it going for as long as possible."

They are also fending off competition from bigger and often cheaper shops enticing customers away.

"It's so much easier for them to go to Kmart, Farmers and the Warehouse so I want to create something a bit more special here.

"A lot more Kiwiana we've got in here as well which is important, especially for travellers coming through. They want something from New Zealand particularly.

"My most expensive item will be my Santa and Mrs Claus, who stand up at the counter. They're worth several thousand but they're absolutely beautiful."


The shop has brought in visitors from all over the world, even the North Pole.

"We've had someone from Alaska come in, from North Pole, Alaska and that was in our first year and that was a real buzz. This person had said that they absolutely loved the shop and they hadn't seen anything as cool as that anywhere else, so that was a real compliment.

"We've had one of the Topp Twins in so that was really neat and she bought a decoration. We have lots of people come through from Germany, France and England, Scotland where my husband is from."

In the few years the shop has been open, only a few Christmas grinches have stopped by.

"On occasion, I have had people come in the door specifically to tell me 'why are you open this time of year', they're very grumpy about it. I just go 'it's a nice place to chill. You don't have to buy anything'.

"For me it's about having that wow factor for kids, giving them memories to cherish when they're older."

Te Puke local Kahlia Williscroft agrees.

"It just brings something magical for the kids. They enjoy coming in, choosing a decoration each, it's part of their Christmas tradition to put on the tree, and yeah, they just love coming in here and getting really excited about Christmas."

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