Dollar Dollar's co-owner Carl Johnson with one of the nutcrackers on display in his Second Avenue store in Williams Lake.

Dollar Dollar's co-owner Carl Johnson with one of the nutcrackers on display in his Second Avenue store in Williams Lake.

Nutcrackers invade local store in time for Christmas

Dollar Dollar in Williams Lake has been invaded by nutcrackers this Christmas season.

Dollar Dollar in Williams Lake has been invaded by nutcrackers this Christmas season.

They range in size — one as tall as seven feet —  and their themes hint at activities like fishing and golfing, or remain true to the more traditional European look.

“We’ve even got a music box one,” said Carl Johnson who co-owns the store with Katalin Szauer.

Ever since the nutcrackers went on display, they have attracted a lot of attention.

“Sometimes we discover all of the nutcrackers have been turned around to face inside the store,” Johnson said as he rearranged them in the window. “Other times we see people outside the store peering inside to see them all.”

The collection belongs to Carl Drieger of Kamloops who has amassed hundreds of them during the last 25 years.

Drieger used to be a professional window dresser for the Hudson’s Bay stores in Prince George and Vernon, and for Grafton-Fraser’s men’s and ladies stores all over the province.

The two men met 20 years ago when Drieger owned a business in Oyama with a 35,000 foot show fixture store.

“He also transformed an abandoned Westwold chicken farm into a market that had a 5,000 foot Christmas room,” Johnson said.

A few months ago Drieger’s wife told him he needed to downsize the nutcracker collection because it was taking up too much room in the basement of their home and Johnson agreed he would love to sell them from his store.

“Some of my favourites in the collection are my McDowell ones,” Drieger said in Williams Lake this week. “The McDowells are a six-seven member family that made the nutcrackers right here in B.C.”

While he doesn’t expect the seven-foot tall McDowell piece to sell because it’s more expensive, he brought it to Williams Lake so people could see what it looked like.

Nutcrackers were originally built in the Black Forest in Germany, often by workers who weren’t enthralled with the lords they worked for, Drieger said.

“Sometimes they were supposed to look like their bosses or an effigy of them,” he grinned.

And they were not a decoration, but functional, he insisted.

“If you want to put your finger inside one I can show you how powerful they are.”

Having the nutcrackers in their store has made Johnson and Szauer aware that other nutcracker collectors are living in the community.

“There are people in town that have collections of more than 100 of them,” Johnson said.