Warsaw ornament collection looking for a new home
Warsaw’s claim to fame as the orthopedic capital of the world remains intact, but its longtime status as the ornament capital appears to be in jeopardy.
“We love being in this community for years and years and years, but we made the tough decision that it's time to retire,” said David Hamrick, curator of the Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Museum.
Retirement means that The Party Shop at 3418 Lake City Highway in Warsaw will close in three to four weeks. The Party Shop has housed the ornament museum since 1996.
The closing sets the stage for the Fab Four, or The Beatles, for those not in the know, and Elvis to have to leave the building, and Dorothy’s little dog too (that is, the "Wizard of Oz" ornament). Even the Starship Enterprise ornament would have to boldly go, along with 6,000 other ornaments that comprise the world’s only complete collection of every Hallmark Keepsake Ornament ever made — dating back to 1973, when the very first was released.
“This is crazy. We have over 6,000 ornaments in our collection. There's lighted ornaments, Easter ornaments, Halloween ornaments, dating all the way back to 1973, which is the first year Hallmark started making their ornaments,” Hamrick said.
That means a price will have to be put on a collection that is arguably priceless. A single Cool Yule can currently fetch up to $500, although in this case, the sellers don’t seem to be motivated by profit.
“So, right now, we've actually had two different national museums that have contacted us inquiring about possibly acquiring the collection,” Hamrick said. “Yeah, honestly, I don't see it staying here in Kosciusko County, but stranger things have happened, I guess.”
The challenge now is to keep the collection intact, keep it available to the public after the store closes and keep the memories flowing.
“You know what's cool is you can be 5 years old and see something you like or you could be 95 and see something you like. Kids of all ages, when they walk through here, it’s just amazing how much happiness I see in people and how much fun they have when they look through in here,” Hamrick said.
“It's a family tradition. Ornaments are a family tradition. It starts with mother, father. They talk to the children about it, they make a tree, and when you leave home the tree and the ornaments go with you. That's exciting when you have a product that represents something like that,” store owner Dorothy Snyder said. "We’ve had lots of interest in other museums. Interested in pursuing and going on with it. So, there’s a future for this, this is always have a location where people want to see back issue ornaments.”
Hamrick says anyone wishing to visit the museum must do so in the next "three to four" weeks, before he starts taking down and boxing up the exhibits.