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Christmas in Manitou is a year-round Christmas store. Owners David and Julie Smith-Pastuer say that one of the biggest attractions in their store is their upside-down Christmas tree.

Sure, some stores have had Christmas displays up before Halloween. And some shoppers have already snatched up pre-Black Friday deals.

Most of us, though, are just turning our attention to the holidays.

These two longtime, family-owned stores, however, are always ready for Christmas.

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Santas representing different universities are one of the items that sell the best year-round at the Christmas in Manitou store.

Christmas in Manitou

Christmas in Manitou began as St. Nick's South, an offshoot of St. Nick's Christmas Store in Denver. David Pastuer bought the business about 12 years ago; though Pastuer, who already owned The Glass Blowers of Manitou, was driven more by a desire for the building than the Christmas store, "it was probably one of the best moves he ever made," says his son, David.

David and his wife, Julie, bought the business, along with the glass shop, from his parents about five years ago. As of last year, they also have a seasonal location at the Promenade Shops at Briargate.

David has worked in retail his whole career, but Christmas in Manitou hits a special spot for him and Julie.

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Lantern snow globes are a top seller at Christmas in Manitou.

"We have really happy customers," Julie says. "If you don't love Christmas, you don't come in."

And, David adds, "nobody returns anything. Who's going to bring back an ornament?"

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Speaking of ornaments, the store carries a variety catering to any interest you can think of, from pet lovers to sports fans to musicians to foodies. (Perhaps you'd like an Old World Christmas Bowl of Mac & Cheese ornament for your tree.) And there are Colorado-themed ornaments that appeal to both locals and tourists.

They're always looking for something different to carry, Julie says, while trying to keep up with evolving tastes and pop culture. Just as fashion has a color every year, the ornament world seems to have a different focus each year. "This year," she says, "it's unicorns, llamas and sloths."

The store, at 726 Manitou Ave., carries other Christmas items, too; the big seller is lantern-shaped snow globes. 

"They sell like there's no tomorrow," David says. "We've been doubling the order every year."

Everything in the store can be personalized, he notes; he encourages putting dates on everything. The idea is to tap into holiday memories — and create new ones.

Except for a typical lull at the start of the year, the shop remains busy year-round, he says. In the summer, the tourists rule; at this time of year, the locals flood in.

"Our December here is actually busier than our July, by almost double," David says.

The Holly Leaf

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The Holly Leaf is a year-round Christmas store in Old Colorado City. Local artist Margarita Osterman stops by the store to hang up some of her hand-painted Colorado and Pikes Peak region-themed ornaments.

Julie Fabrizio's parents started the Christmas-themed Holly Leaf in Old Colorado City in 1984.

"It was a specialty niche that was just kind of beginning in that time period, and it was fun," says Fabrizio, who took over the business in 1996. 

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The shop has moved a couple of times, but has always been on Colorado Avenue. The last move was in 2016, when Fabrizio relocated the store to 2522 W. Colorado Ave. home of the Soap Box & More, and absorbed that business; the Soap Box owner was retiring.

The new site offered grander display windows, Fabrizio says, while taking on the Soap Box & More inventory added to The Holly Leaf's year-round specialty items.

Fabrizio prides herself on tracking down products made by artisans in the area and across the state. "We try to find as many locally made items as we can."

Her search for unique inventory, though, goes far beyond Colorado. The shop, for example, carries Fontanini, an Italian line of nativity sets.

"Buying for a store like this is a lot of work, because you have to go and really hunt for different, unusual stuff," Fabrizio says. "I want to get stuff that you don't see everywhere. Why should you come down here and shop with me if you can find it everywhere?"

One other thing you'll find at The Holly Leaf: Santa Claus. ("The real Santa," Fabrizio confides.) Santa's not there all the time, though; check The Holly Leaf's Facebook page for his appearances in the back-of-the-shop's Santa Land and the opportunity to take photos with him.

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Julie Fabrizio is the owner of the Holly Leaf, which carries many items made in Colorado.

It's easy to have a smile when visiting — or working in — a shop like hers, Fabrizio says. "I'll have people who will come in in February and say, 'I just needed to feel good.' And I'm like, 'Come on in any time.'"

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