About Department 56
Stop in and see all the new Department 56 Village Displays featuring the 2014 releases
We carry all Department 56 Villages and
accessories! Display designers on staff.
One Christmas evening, a group of friends set off to enjoy a dinner of celebration at a small country inn nestled in a quiet river town. As they rounded a bend in the road, they saw the small, old-fashioned village decorated for the holidays. The lights, like fairies, glowed and sparkled amid the freshly fallen snow. All evening, the conversation was full of Christmas memories and the visions the tiny town had evoked. Amidst the jovial banter and magical memories, the idea for a lighted Christmas village was born. That spark of an idea became a reality when, in 1976, Department 56 introduced a series of six hand-painted, ceramic buildings. The rest is history.
The company behind the villages.
Some twenty-five years ago, Department 56 began as part of Bachman's, a premiere retail florist in Minneapolis. Bachman's used a numbering system to identify each of its departments. The number assigned to wholesale gift imports division was, you guessed it, 56.
Now headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Department 56 has become a leader in the giftware, collectibles and holiday decorating industry and is best known for our hand-crafted lighted villages, Snowbabies™ figurines and extensive lines of holiday and home decorative products.
The building of a village: An historic events calendar.
The foundation of Department 56 took shape with the introduction of six charming, lighted, ceramic buildings. These six premiere items were the beginnings of The Original Snow Village®.
The original Original Snow Village designs were retired in order to accommodate 12 new introductions as well as the appearance of the first Village accessories.
The concept of The Heritage Village Collection® was developed. The first release was The Dicken's Village Series®, a collection of seven nostalgic shops and a church. All designed to capture the spirit of Christmas in Victorian England.
The New England Village Series and The Alpine Village Series® were added to The Heritage Village Collection. That same year, the world of Snowbabies™ bisque figurines was introduced.
The Heritage Village collection continued to grow with the addition of the hustle and bustle of Christmas in the City® and the inspiring Little Town of Bethlehem™.
Department 56 reached $56 million in sales and found it necessary to expand into a new 150,000 sq. ft. distribution center.
The legend of Santa became a part of the Department 56 tradition with the addition of The North Pole Series™ to The Heritage Village Collection.
On June 25, we opened our new corporate headquarters at One Village Place in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Department 56 is bought by the New York investment firm, Forstmann Little.
In June of this year, Department 56 completed an initial offering and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "DFS".
This year brought the introduction of The Disney Parks Village Series™ and Snowbunnies®.
Our first successful marketing program, "Homes for the Holidays", encouraged new collectors to start a tradition for themselves.
We introduced our website which still serves as a definitive source for product and retailer information.
The 10th anniversary of Snowbabies was celebrated with the creation of the Snowbabies Freindship Club™. The Classic Ornament Series was also introduced, giving collectors a new way to enjoy classic pieces long since retired.
The first year-round village, Seasons Bay™, makes a splash onto the marketplace, representing a late 19th-century American resort town. Elf Land™, an extension of the North Pole Series™, was also introduced as a suburb where the elves lived and played after the holidays.
In May, the first-ever corporate retail store opened in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, a move that enhanced both brand and product profile. And for the first time, Department 56 introduced pieces that included exquisite interior detail.
Another big year for expansion. In October, we opened a second retail store in the new Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our first magazine insert, Tablescapes, also hit the newsstands. It featured new and imaginative ways to use Village pieces, Snowbabies and general giftware as a part of home décor.
This year, Department 56 and The Original Snow Village® Collection both turned 25. To commemorate those twenty-five wonderful years, we invited all our friends and collectors from across the United States and Canada to a spectacular Silver Anniversary Celebration in St. Paul, Minnesota. Many special edition pieces and limited items were designed just for this momentous occasion. A grand time was had by all.
Department 56 is a major force in the giftware and collectible industry. As we look to the future, we plan to actively explore new avenues for growth. Rest assured, our artists are constantly busy coming up with new and unique ways to pique your interest. And touch the collector's heart in everyone.
ALPINE VILLAGE, CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY, DICKENS' VILLAGE, MERCURY GLASS, NEW ENGLAND VILLAGE, NORTH POLE, SNOW VILLAGE, SNOWBABIES, SNOWBUNNIES, WINTER SILHOUETTE