'Tis the season every day at Mehmet Goktan’s business.
The 35-year-old Centereach resident is owner of Holiday Treasures in Lake Grove — an 8,500-square-foot space at Smith Haven Mall that’s packed all year with nearly anything you can think of when imagining Christmas. There are thousands of ornaments, trees for kids' rooms, decorations for children’s trees, dozens upon dozens of Santa- and snowman-themed items, snow globes that light up, wreaths, stockings, nutcrackers, reindeer, Nativity scenes, Christmas artwork and more.
At Christmastime, Goktan even expands the business, which opened in 2019, beyond its front doors at Smith Haven Mall to include several kiosks stocked with items from the store that are located in public walking areas of that mall, as well as at Walt Whitman Shops in South Huntington and Roosevelt Field in Garden City.
And Goktan is particularly proud that some 4,000 of the 7,000 ornaments from his shop can be meticulously personalized by hand for free on the spot, including those purchased at one of the kiosks.
AT A GLANCE
Holiday Treasures, Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove
Leadership: Mehmet Goktan
Annual sales: More than $1 million
Number of employees: 3 (About 15 when part-time workers are added during the Christmas season)
“I love Christmas and I love the Christmas business. Everybody loves Christmas,” said Goktan, who came to the United States from Izmir, Turkey, 17 years ago.
Hanukkah merchandise, such as menorahs, is also available.
It’s the warm Christmas holiday spirit that customers are sold on most, so people like the atmosphere of his store — no matter what time of year it is, Goktan said.
“Everyone here is like family,” Goktan said of his staff and customers. “People come in and talk with us about all the things we have here.” He noted he has been invited to one of his regular customer’s homes for social events, and has taken that customer up on his offers. “We’re friends now,” Goktan added.
Kenny O’Pray, 62, of Port Jefferson Station — the customer who’s entertained Goktan at his home — has bought Christmas decorations at the store but he said he mostly likes to visit the shop to elevate his mood.
O’Pray said, “It’s like an escape. Everything’s getting so crazy in this world. You can come in here and feel at peace.”
How is it possible to have a lucrative Christmas business all year?
The store sells gifts and items for other holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and Halloween, so people come in all year, but 80% of our products are always Christmas items.
What brings in the offseason customers?
It’s like a museum, it’s like a home. A lot of people will spend two or three hours here. (Goktan noted some customers make regular trips to his shop throughout the year just to see if there's anything new.)
What are the most popular items sold at Holiday Treasures?
Ornaments, and collectibles like Precious Moments, Christopher Radko, Willow Tree and Roman … lanterns, snow globes and Nativity scenes.
What are most of your ornaments made of?
Glass, acrylic and resin.
Who are your customers?
I’d say about 70% are over 40 years old because they like the nostalgia and the tradition Christmas represents, but younger people also love it. The teenagers love the kids' ornaments and the couples' ornaments.
Do you play Christmas music all the time at the shop?
Just during the holiday season. Otherwise, we’ll play ‘80s and ‘90s stuff … and maybe some Frank Sinatra, some Taylor Swift …
Why do you only sell your products at your stores and not online?
I don’t like online. I want the customers to come in and see and feel the products.
Have you found another way to expand your customer base?
I own other year-round Holiday Treasures shops at Pocono Premium Outlets in Tannersville, Pennsylvania; and the Rockaway Townsquare mall in New Jersey.
How many hours a week do you work?
About 80 or 90 hours.
How do you find and keep your employees?
People walk in and apply. They’re 90% Turkish (the current staff) — we’re like family. And they like working here because there are good tips — a lot of good tips (for the personalization of ornaments).
What’s the biggest challenge your business is facing right now, and how are you meeting it?
The economy. People are not spending right now, so we’ll have deals like buy three, get one free, for the entire store.
What is your advice to someone who’s thinking of opening a year-round Christmas store?
You need a lot of money, but I advise it. I one hundred percent enjoy it — I’d quit this business if I didn’t.
What do you want your business to look like in five years?
I want to open other stores outside of the mall — maybe on Main Street in Port Jeff and Patchogue, and maybe Huntington.