ABILENE, Texas - It may be a hot summer day in Abilene, but at a new store downtown, it's already Christmas.
A J. Cruse Abilene Christmas Gallery and Gifts is reminding residents that the holidays are just around the corner.
"Christmas for most people is a very happy time so when you walk in the store we want you to feel that," said Kathye Gardner, owner of the new store. "To feel like you're walking into something happy and uplifting."
Gardner and her husband Cliff decided to open a J. Cruse Christmas dealership after falling in love with the creators unique Santa Clause sculptures.
"His Santas are so special and unique because they're all hand-crafted, the faces and hands are all sculpted by Jackie."
Jackie Cruse has always been inspired by Christmas.
"It was just that nostalgia and sense of family that just gave me such a love for the holiday season," said Cruse.
He began making his sculptures in 1996. He said it all began from the skills he learned as a master cake artist. His designs were soon picked up by retailer Neiman-Marcus. By 1998, he had 50 employees and four buildings. In 2008, he opened his very first brick-and-mortar J. Cruse Gallery in Post, Texas. This new store in Abilene is the first dealership since that Post location opened.
"People will go 'Christmas year round?! really?!' And i go 'You know, what better time to celebrate?'" said Cruse.
His designs have found their way into some pretty impressive households.
"I've done Santas for The White House, I've done Santas for President Bush...a life size cowboy when he was Governor," said Cruse.
Kathye Gardner is excited Cruse wanted to work with her on this latest project. She's excited everything has come together for the Friday Grand Opening.
"Wonderful," she said. "Now that it's done we're real pleased."
Jackie said the store is just what he envisioned.
"J. Cruse Gallery is really a place of blessing and happiness," said Cruse. "When you came in the door how'd you feel? you know, it makes you happy!"
The store will specialize in other seasonal holidays as well. They also sell gourmet chocolates and jewelry.
It's located at 1246 N. Sixth St.