For the second consecutive holiday season, the Ohio State community has a vast supply of ugly Christmas sweaters at its fingertips.
Christmisc. — a seasonal ugly Christmas sweater pop-up shop — started as merely a side project, owner Nate DeMars said.
DeMars, an Ohio State alumnus who graduated with his MBA in 2011, founded Pursuit — a men’s suit shop — in 2011 as a part of a class project in the Fisher College of Business.
“Our first two holidays seasons with Pursuit, we brought in Christmas sweaters as a fun holiday promotion to get people in the store,” he said. “We thought that would be a good way to keep activity in the Pursuit store. People went nuts for it. We found there was great potential.”
However, DeMars was concerned about confusing Pursuit’s concept by adding sweaters to its inventory.
Consequently, Christmisc. was born.
Once the pop-up shop became its own entity, DeMars and his team sold every single Christmas sweater they owned.
“It’s about the fun, secular concept of Christmas,” Shay-Jahen Merritté, creative officer of Pursuit and Christmisc., said. “I love the feelings of the holidays — the history, the lights, advertisements. I wanted to take that feeling and put it into a store.”
This year, the store will be open Nov. 21 to Dec. 23 at its 1556 N. High St. location, adjacent to Pizza Rustica and below the Gateway Film Center in the South Campus Gateway, according to a press release.
DeMars also opened another Christmisc. in Dayton.
“What we do better than anyone is we have such a massive variety,” DeMars said. “Some are so gaudy and tacky, others are more subdued. We have the whole spectrum. They’re one-of-a-kind gems.
“It’s a huge variety of vintage, grandmotherly Christmas sweaters,” he laughed.
Sweaters are priced between $8 and $48, depending on the amount of a piece’s detail. While the vast majority of clothing sold in the pop-up shop is Christmas specific, there is a non-holiday secular section as well, DeMars said.
“We have a really strong connection with the sweaters,” Merritté laughed.
Merritté said they get their stock of sweaters from a “super secret place.”
Ugly OSU sweaters are a big hit, too, DeMars said.
DeMars said the pop-up’s Columbus location used to be an art gallery.
“It has a quirky, nostalgic feel,” store manager Brittany Boulton said. “The second people walk in the door, they start cracking up and giggling.”
Michael Mullen, a Christmisc. employee and fifth-year in film studies, agreed.
“It’s a rare store,” he said. “It provides a way for people to express themselves throughout the Christmas season.”
Samantha Perez, a second-year in biology, and Janki Patel, a first-year in finance, both said their price limit for an ugly Christmas sweater would be $20 and they would shop for one at a thrift or vintage store.
“I think it’s fun to have a party like that, with everybody wearing (an ugly Christmas sweater),” Perez said. “It’s kind of a conversation starter.”
Patel described his ideal ugly Christmas sweater.
“It would definitely have to be three-dimensional,” Patel said. “A reindeer with a nose and bells would be good. Something green and red, obviously. Not one of the itchy ones, something more comfortable.”
While browsing through Christmisc., customers are encouraged to dress up in the sweaters and enjoy a photo booth, DeMars said.
“With this, you don’t feel like you’re shopping,” he said.
In addition to the store, DeMars and his team are putting together The Sweater Sleigh, a mini store on wheels.
“It’s a temporary takeover of our mobile retailer, Suitmobile,” DeMars said of the Pursuit vehicle.
The Sweater Sleigh is planning to make stops in Cleveland and at Miami University (Ohio), among others, he said. It’s set to start traveling around Ohio in the next couple weeks.
Christmisc. will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Nick Roll contributed to this article.