As you head north out of Northport you will happen by a great store. When you walk in, you are transported back to a simpler time and comforted by the smell. It’s known as the Bells of Christmas.
There, you will find Jim Bell, hard at work making the decorations of Christmas.
“This is the time of year I just get the urge to want to make wreaths. I’ve been doing it for 65 years,” says Jim.
Since he was 5! He is a fourth generation to the greenhouse business. His dad would make wreathes and garland and such and ship it to the family greenhouse in Kalamazoo. Discovering that, like many things, Leelanau County produced some of the finest greens anywhere.
“Like today, everyone’s growing grapes and growing hops. Leelanau County has, I don’t know if it’s the lay of the land, north south hills. Because of the water and milder temperatures, the greens grow excellent and my grandfather discovered this way back in the 20s,” explains Jim.
So every November Jim gathers his greens and begins the process he loves. Thousands of feet of garland, wreaths to the plenty. Also, he makes a kissing ball, a sign of welcoming holiday visitors, it’s a cousin to mistletoe.
Jim makes his so that it can be watered and it lasts for months. 450 thousand feet of wire and a set of strong hands. Jim works the greens and makes the decorations.
The store is a throwback. The man proud of his family’s accomplishments and traditions, like the annual visit from the local Brownies.
“So for the last 30 some years, I’ve been entertaining the Brownies. They all get to make a wreath and get excited,” says Jim.