It's Christmas 361 Days a Year at Bronner's in Frankenmuth - Best Christmas Store In America
Bronner's Photo Contests
Each year, Bronner's Christmas Store at the south end of Frankenmuth - Michigan's Little Bavaria - sponsors a hilarious photo contest that should be on our HubTrail list for certain.
Visit a famous landmark anywhere in the world and photograph yourself, your friends, or your family members holding a Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland bag or brochure. Send in the photos to Bronner's at their website for a chance to earn a $100 Bronner’s Gift Certificate.The contest ends December 31st.
In past years, Bronner's has sponsored contests in which participants snapped photos of friends and family posing with the seasonal sculptures and exhibits around the large Bronner's Christmas Store parking lot and landscape. These are decroated with lots of lights during the winter holidays to provide a free drive-thru light show.
People have worn costumes to be in these shots and even snapped their pets and stuffed animals with snow men, a herd of fiberglas deer, Santa, a toy soldier, and several other fixtures and scenes. The store may do this in the future, so keep an eye open for this type of fun at the shop. I think I'd refrain from putting Dracula in the nativity scene, but you might think of somethng else pretty funny or far out.
Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland
25 Christmas Lane; Frankenmuth MI
After a visit to Bronner’s, a trip downtown to restaurants, shops, hotels, entertainment, boat rides, the visitors center, and the Frankenmuth Library is about ½ mile to the north. However, Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Water Park is right next door and the moderately priced Frankenmuth Hotel (with free breakfast) is behind Bronner’s on Weiss Street.
Jellystone camping resort and mini-golf course is across the street from the Frankenmuth Hotel, while a military and aircraft museum sits adjacent to it. This south end of town is full of activities and amenities. A flourmill marks the north end of downtown and the shops offer freshly ground flour.
I like Bronner's, because it is a historic family-owned company that dates to the end of WWII. It has a long history of providing good products and participating in the community. It's like a small city on its own and quite a lot of fun.
Founded in 1945, Bronner’s Christmas Store is open almost every day of the year to offer ornaments and keepsakes of Christianity, other faiths, and year-round holidays. The parking lot is so large that a shuttle bus carries people to the three entrances of this store that is almost too big to be seen all on one day. One of my favorite things to do in the winter months is to drive through the free light show around the perimeter of the lot and stop at the Silent Night Chapel, which is an exact replica of the one in Oberndorf, Austria, where the hymn was written.
If you visit, sit inside the chapel and listen to seasonal music as you view the displays that include the lyrics of Silent Night in a number of languages. These include First Nations tongues, Russian, Greek, Romanian, Polish, and others. An organ and other musical instruments are displayed in a showroom in the center of the chapel and live performances are given from there on occasion. At the two entrances are racks of brochures and images of the chapel for the taking. Outside is a crèche as well and at night, the illuminated scene of chapel and crèche is gently beautiful to people that enjoy it. This is where I rest on any trip from Ohio to Mid-Michigan.
The founder of this complex, Wally Bronner, died in the 2000s after decades of success with his Christmas store. Newspaper photos of his funeral procession showed a long line of automobiles and people miss him very much.
He was in the sign business originally and opened his Christmas store in Downtown Frankenmuth only as a sideline, but it grew so fast that it filled two buildings, then had to be moved to the large corner lot at the south end of town off Route 83. I think he must have given up the sign business. His wife and family continue to operate the store today and you can probably see Wally in some recorded demonstrations around the store.
Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland
I-75/US 23 runs between Bridgeport and Frankenmuth. Shopping is located in Bridgeport, with a 1/4 scale Halloween Train Ride complex that is fun.
Junction Valley Railroad
- Junction Valley Railroad - Bridgeport, MI- Railroad, Trains, Train Ride - Bridgeport, MI - JVR Junct
The entire railroad is a display. All buildings, bridges, tunnels, trestles, trains etc., Affordable family fun! We are conveniently located in Bridgeport, MI.
Cultures and Holidays
It may be a famous Christmas store, but Bronner’s features a Halloween corner full of tableaus and electronic villages with moving characters and vehicles for Halloween. Some people buy Christmas village houses and train sets to display, while others purchase Halloween haunted houses and ghost figures. I’ve seen Jack Pumpkin from The Nightmare Before Christmas there!
Ornaments and décor for St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, and personal and family special occasions are well sticked at Bronner's as well. Collectible ornaments are very popular.
First Nations dolls, carvings, plaques, and ornaments are a stand out offering at Bronner’s. This Mid-Michigan area is filled with Native American reservations, communities, schools, museums, and businesses; and visitors are interested in Native traditions and cultures.
At least 8 to 16 feet of display aisle is dedicated to each color of Christmas ornament – primary colors plus pink, other pastels, and multicolor. That’s a lot of ornaments! Several displays form a department of ornaments and additional items for the Jewish faith and other faiths are also represented.
Some unique and innovative ornaments appear each year, including one I purchased for a friend. It was a depiction of Noah’s Ark, full of animals, with Noah standing at the bow. Check out the large collection of handcrafted wooden Nutcrackers in all sizes and nutcracker fune ornaments.
If you're a professional Santa, you can buy a full suit at Bronner's and one for your Mrs. Claus, too. Or if your a Santa fan, you can have a green Irish Santa hat, or one with reindeer antlers.
The Trains, the Trains! Above the customers’ heads, railroad tracks carry trains of severe gauge sizes for model train collectors and Christmas train enthusiasts. The model train department can provide most needs on site and special order others. Any type from a toddler’s wooden toy train to a collectible item is available.
Video and Captioning for English Learners
Contests, Snacks, and More
Snacks - At the rear of the store is a large snack café with quick-serve and self-service components for snacks, sandwiches, and meals. I've enjoyed an afternoon in the store several times with a cup of coffee, just viewing video and live demonstrations, talking to staff, watching the trains, and looking at all the cultures and holidays represented in the store. I've also found some very fitting gifts for friends.
Photo Contests - I mentioned photo contests at the top of this Hub. I remember seeing snaps displayed every year in the front lobby. Visitors in street clothes or costumes made some funny scenes - sometimes, babies, dogs, cats, and stuffed animals were in the shots and I sweat that the animals were smiling. People still make these photos, even if they do not enter a contest with them. Bronner's is a place that you can make good memories.
Many items in the store are available for order online at the Bronner’s site at www.bronners.com. A free email newsletter is attractive and informative, often offering a monthly special.
Bronners is on Main Street, to the south on this map.
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