FITCHBURG, Mass. — For a nondescript warehouse tucked away in the western part of this old mill city of about 40,000 residents, the holiday season never really ends.

Ornament Central, a family-owned ornament wholesaler, will move 600,000 ornaments, resulting in more than $1.6 million in sales, through the doors of the business before year’s end.

Though the scale of business is large, the products, all designed by founder and President Chris Casey, are personal, she said.

“Our ornaments are collected by people for kids to mark milestones in their lives,” she said.

Ornaments range from the traditional (a baby in a Christmas stocking) to the trendy (a family using a selfie stick to take a photo).

Cheerleader and video-gamer ornaments are among their best sellers, though the selfie ornaments are catching up, according to Customer Service Manager Kim Bowmil, a Westford resident.

Next year, the company is hoping to release a pickleball player ornament – a burgeoning sport, Casey said customers have told her – and possibly an ornament depicting a figure making a heart sign with their hands.

“We’re not afraid of cheesy,” Bowmil said with a laugh.

The business has outgrown two homes and two warehouses since Casey and her late husband, Jim, started selling ornaments in 1983.

Though the company now outsources manufacturing through an agent in China, the business, which started as a crafting project for Chris Casey, continues its family roots, said her son and current office manager, Rob Casey, who lives in Tewksbury.

Chris Casey was born in western Massachusetts and moved to Concord as a teen. Though she joked she was an “art major for a day” at UMass Amherst, she ultimately pursued elementary education and worked as a teacher for eight years.

After the birth of her youngest child, Rob, Chris Casey took a year off from her job in the Westford school system and started painting murals and making ornaments for gifts.

Bowmil, whose mother once worked with Casey, remembers receiving some of these ornaments as a child.

“I have a lot of them,” she said.

Casey and her husband started selling the early ornaments, which were made from salted dough, at craft fairs.

“I did my first craft fair with Robbie still in a crib,” she said. “I’m sure most of my sales were because my baby was so cute.”

Soon she and Jim were traveling up and down the East Coast and as far west as Arkansas to sell the ornaments at craft fairs.

“In the early days (Jim) really did everything,” Bowmil said. “Chris and Jim worked together like all the time. They spent all their time together.”

Their handmade business was called Smudges and in the later years Casey recruited helpers to create hundreds of ornaments to sell at craft fairs.

When Casey’s ornaments filled her and her family’s Pepperell house, the family moved to a larger house in Acton.

“The bathrooms had ornaments in them,” Rob Casey said. “There was glitter everywhere.”

By 2000 the business was ready for a warehouse, first in Pepperell and, later, in Gardner.

“There were a lot of good things about having your business in your home, but I never regretted it,” Chris Casey said. “The move was good to separate my life a little bit better.”

Casey said she was approached by sourcing agents multiple times and was initially resistant to having the ornaments manufactured. But handmade ornaments were costly for consumers and she knew there was a demand for her designs, she said.

“I knew there was a place for it because I had already been selling ornaments,” she said.

A conversation with a sourcing agent eventually led to a contract and the creation of Ornament Central in 2004.

Casey creates a prototype, now using polymer clay instead of salted dough, and sends it to the sourcing agent, who puts the design into production.

In its first year, Ornament Central produced 36 designs. Now it produces about 200.

According to Rob Casey, sales have also steadily grown, forcing Ornament Central to move once again in 2011 to its current Fitchburg location. He says that’s where they’ll stay.

“I think we have a handle on discontinuing enough ornaments to not grow too fast,” he said.

During the early days of Ornament Central, Casey continued selling handmade ornaments and attending craft fairs under the Smudges business name, but when her husband died suddenly in 2007 she reassessed.

Jim Casey handled many of the sales, and customers still mention him, Bowmil said.

“People still today when I’m talking to them will say ‘I loved that Jim Casey. I started with Ornament Central because of him,”‘ she said.

Chris Casey said he not only quit his job to help with Smudges and Ornament Central about 10 years before his death, but encouraged her along the way.

“He thought I was good at what I did and that’s always helpful,” she said.

Casey decided shortly afterward to closes Smudges and the sale of handmade ornaments to concentrate on Ornament Central.Three years ago, the business started a “For Goodness Sake” line, which features pre-personalized ornaments with 100 of the most popular girls and boys names and other messages written on the top.

Earlier this year, Ornament Central changed the design and donated the remaining 80,000 discontinued snowman ornaments to Fitchburg schools.

“It sold like crazy,” Rob Casey said.

“All our customers wanted them, but we had five pallets of them and no one had space for it.”

Casey said he made a phone call to Fitchburg High School Athletic Director Ray Cosenza.

“We told him if he sold them all he has to do is name a building after us,” Casey said jokingly.

The school is selling the ornaments at $1 apiece to raise money for the Athletic Department.

Cosenza said the ornaments are being stored in an empty room at South Street Elementary School. He said he has sold 400 ornaments so far, and hopes to hit 1,000 before the end of the year.

The ornaments are “all profit,” and he doesn’t expect to run out anytime soon, he said.

“(They will be around) probably longer than I’ll be here,” Cosenza said.

Six people work at the company full time, and a seventh seasonal worker is hired during the holiday season, when the business makes two-thirds of its sales.

Though the busy time is the Christmas season – with January coming next – Bowmil said the more than 100 customers that the company sells to in bulk keep the company busy year round.

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