Single Santa Seeks Shoppers for Selfies
Suppose Mark Tuley has one indelible childhood memory from Christmas shopping with his mom on Carthage square. In that case, it has to be his delight at visiting the eight-foot-tall mechanical likeness of Santa Clause in the window of the corner drugstore, Read Brothers. Tirelessly turning from side to side, waving at shoppers and exciting the children, the symbolic substitute Santa was a conversation starter and the star of many photographs through the years.
Fast forward to 2020. Tuley Furniture and Appliance Company is celebrating 91 years on Main Street with Mark now at the family business’s helm. The Read Brothers building still stands across the street, but the drug store is gone along with the five-and-dimes, toy shops, and dry goods stores, replaced by new mom-and-pop boutiques and professional offices.
The historic Carthage square with its freshly-painted facades and vintage-style street lights is carefully preserved. It resembles a quaint Christmas village display awaiting shoppers, tourists, and the first snowfall.
For the young-at-heart wishing to snap a Christmas photo to post on social media – some things haven’t changed – there’s Santa, just as he was in the old days, waving at his fans – waiting for someone to take a selfie.
Yes, holiday décor on the square came full circle three decades ago, thanks to Mark Tuley’s precise timing and creative bartering talents. “In the early 90s, Wilburn’s jewelry store in Lafayette was featuring this mechanical Santa in their window every Christmas – exactly like the one I remember from the drug store,” Mark explains. “When the jeweler went out of business, I found out that they were selling the Santa. I swapped the owner two large tables for it. His wife really wanted the furniture, so it was a good deal for everyone.”
A good deal it was, indeed for all of us who like to harken back to a time when having our picture made with Santa – even a motorized one – was the highlight of the year. Just having Santa in the store to greet him each morning gets Mark in the holiday spirit. He hopes customers who brought their kids to Tuley’s to see Santa will now bring their grandkids. “I’m happy that Tuley’s could be a part of bringing back good memories that can now be shared with another generation.”