MATTHEWS – Connie Kleinberg doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon, even though she’s already retired once before.
Kleinberg has owned and operated Matthews Holiday Haus for 17 years, after retiring from her Social Services job in New York and moving to North Carolina because her husband, Al, wanted a change of scenery – not to mention the state’s lower taxes and the fact that North Carolina is “warmer, nicer, cleaner, and it’s a big change from New York,” she said.
Kleinberg’s love of Christmas and needing something to do with her time pushed her toward her own business, which she named Matthews Holiday Haus because her husband is German and the name “Holiday House” was already taken in North Carolina. Kleinberg’s niece created the logo for the business.
“I thought it was an easy retirement job,” she said. “I wanted something to do to keep me busy. Seventeen years later, I’m working six days a week.”
Half of the Matthews Holiday Haus displays Christmas decorations and ornaments all year, and the other half alternates between the other holidays. Kleinberg said the store carries items for every single holiday, as well as other occasions such as weddings, births and graduation. It’s a “shop for all seasons” that caters to “every season for every reason.”
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Kleinberg said about owning her own business, where she receives the support of her husband to make things easier and gets to pick out lots of fun, festive merchandise to sell.
Kleinberg purchases all of the merchandise in the store from AmericasMart in Atlanta. The market is, according to Kleinberg, three square city blocks, and each building is 20 stories. “You walk and walk until you can’t walk anymore,” she said. Purchasing the holiday merchandise is fun, Kleinberg said, but also is hard work. “You can’t buy what you like; you have to buy what the populace likes,” she said.
Also difficult, at least at first, was getting people through the door, Kleinberg said. But the business’s location, at 159 N. Trade St., means there is a constant stream of people walking and driving by. And, now that the Matthews Holiday Haus has gained a following, people are coming from as far as two hours away to partake in the festive atmosphere.
“They know us and they know our prices and our merchandise,” Kleinberg said. Her willingness to offer special orders to her customers is what sets her apart from other holiday-related businesses, she added, and if there is anything the customer wants that Kleinberg doesn’t have, she will order the item.
Decorations are put outside, and the windows of the business change with seasons and holidays. Kleinberg enjoys thinking of new themes for trees and new designs and colors for the holidays.
Besides the Holiday Haus, Kleinberg’s business is expanding into gift baskets. Called Matthews Gift Baskets, the business offers baskets for all occasions that cater to each customer. Because the baskets are personalized and customer-specific, the business doesn’t offer mass online ordering. Matthews Gift Baskets is located in the same building as Matthews Holiday Haus.
With an expanding business, one part-time employee and three full-time employees, Kleinberg advises those thinking about opening up their own business to be willing to put in a lot of hours. Also, “have enough money to get you through the first year,” she said, adding everyone wants to get paid, but they might have to wait longer than anticipated.
Willingness to work long hours doesn’t bother Kleinberg, who genuinely loves her business.
“I have no plans of retiring,” she said. I enjoy (the business) too much.”
Find more information at the company’s website, www.holiday-haus.com, or call 704-849-7098.