Yes, Santa will write you back—just ask any child who dropped off a letter in the big red mailbox at Berger Hardware last December.
The Letters for Santa mailbox in the middle of the Hawthorne, New York, store is the latest addition to the Christmas festivities owner Aimee Nichols offers her customers.
“Several years ago, we started a bake sale around Christmas to raise money for the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer organization,” she says. “Then we brought in Santa Claus to greet our customers, then we added door prizes. Last year we added the Letters for Santa mailbox, and we decided to make it an annual event.”
For children who want to send a letter to Santa, Nichols encourages them to come in to the store and pick up a templated packet she’s prepared. The packet contains an envelope addressed to the North Pole and a letter with a decorative letterhead. Children are instructed to craft their letter and return it to the store with their return address on the envelope.
Every child who writes a letter gets a reply. Nichols responds to each child with a letter customized to include his or her name and some information about the gifts he or she requested. Letters are mailed to their home a week before Christmas.
Nichols sets the mailbox in the middle of the store’s Christmas display. It’s surrounded by gift ideas for everyone, from home decor items to toys.
“The mailbox brings customers in to the store twice—once to pick up the letter packet, and again to drop it off,” says Nichols. “Letters for Santa has had a good response. There are several of us at the store who have children, so we try to do a lot with families and make them comfortable in our store.”