In 1990, Merry’s Christmas and Clowns was an idea that began as more of a hobby for John and Merry Hodgkiss.
The certified public accountant and his wife, a retired teacher, opened a store in Irving, using the name Merry’s in honor of the wife’s name, which he said was given by her mother “because she liked it.”
“Clowns” was added to the name because both had a penchant for clowns, especially clown paintings done by entertainer and artist Red Skelton, who died in 1997.
In 1993, the couple decided to open a second store on Main Street in downtown Grapevine that was marketed as a collectible and year-round Christmas store, as well as a gift store.
Although the owners love their store and the changes they have seen on Main Street in downtown Grapevine over nearly a quarter of a century, they are ready to retire.
They plan to close the 23-year-old shop as soon as inventory is gone, probably early next year.
“The thing I will miss the most is the people we met — the many friends we made with customers, vendors and other store owners in the trade,” John Hodgkiss said.
“Christmas is still celebrated year round at Merry’s,” Hodgkiss said.
Over the years, they decided that they wanted to make Grapevine their only storefront and closed the Irving store.
Their specialty over the years has been high-end collections such as Red Skelton memorabilia, Lladro figurines, Thomas Kincaid paintings, Emmet Kelly clown collectibles and Christian Steinbach nutcrackers. The business would come to house a large collection of collegiate items, including from his alma mater, Baylor University.
“We only have two 7-foot-tall nutcrackers left,” Hodgkiss said.
At first it was just Irving, but when a retail space that had been occupied by a drug store became available in downtown Grapevine in 1993, they jumped at the chance to have a store there.
The Grapevine store was at 120 S. Main St., but in 2003, they moved to a bigger site at 309 S. Main St.
Their Grapevine business has been a lot of fun, but a lot of work, too.
“We’re going to retire while it’s still fun,” Hodgkiss said.
Plans include spending more time with their three children and 10 grandchildren.
“The first thing we’re going to do is sit down and chill,” the businessman said. “Then we’ll think about what we’re going to do.”