LAKEWOOD, Ohio — The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the holiday season for many, including Bill Hixson, the owner of Hixson’s Inc. in Lakewood.
For nearly 40 years, he’s traveled to Washington D.C. to help decorate the White House for Christmas, but wasn’t able to make the trip in 2020. But he’s not letting the virus stop him from spreading Christmas cheer both in Washington D.C. and across Northeast Ohio.
“I’m never gonna retire, I love what I do,” Hixson said.
He opened the shop in 1953 and started out selling flowers - his first passion.
“I used to teach floral arranging in Japan - first in 1964 all the way up until 2000,” Hixson said.
From there, the shop began to bloom. Hixson added antiques and collectibles to his inventory before including his other passion - Christmas.
Hixson began drawing his own designs and contracted small, family-owned businesses in Europe to produce them for his shop.
“If somebody buys something here I give them the story that matches to go along with it,” Hixson said.
Over the last 40 years, he’s shared those stories with some very distinguished customers.
One of Hixson’s former floral school students was hired as the White House chief florist in the 1980s and invited him to join the team that helps decorate the house for Christmas.
“Originally I was in charge of the East Room. Four Christmas trees, 16 feet tall. Four mantles. Eight windows that I had to decorate,” Hixson said.
Hixson started designing ornaments for the first families each year, starting with the Reagans.
“I like all the presidents, but I really like the wives, the women, because they are not politicians,” Hixson said.
But this year, Hixson is staying put and mailing the ornaments.
“I chose not to go because Trump had 19, his wife had it,” Hixson said. “If I caught it, I’d have to bring it back here. I feel like Typhoid Mary, I'd be infecting you and you and you and you and my customers.”
Now, he’s just cherishing the memories and counting his blessings after having to shut down due to COVID-19 from March until September and opening to a warm response from customers in October and November.
“Those two months were better than any months we ever had all the way back to 1953,” Hixson said.
And he plans to stick around for more Christmases to come.
“I’ll never retire. The good die young so I figure I've got another 50 years to go,” Hixson said.
Hixson expects the current trend to continue and business to really pick up in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Tell us about a business or group of businesses that are finding ways (responsibly, of course) to serve their communities during Ohio's "stay at home" order by visiting our We're Open! Northeast Ohio page.
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