Screaming Mimi's owner Laura Wills has had an "ugly Christmas sweater" rack in her store for almost 10 years now. This year, she's expanded her stock to include ugly Hanukkah sweaters. Below, we chat with her about what she looks for in an ugly Christmas sweater and her love of the hunt.
Why did you decide to put an ugly Christmas sweater rack in the store?
I just keep seeing them and they started growing on me. I kept thinking, 'I wonder if there's a market for this.' We'd just come out of the ironic t-shirt phase and I could see people perhaps being interested, but at the same time I was worried about my 'fashion' customers coming in an being like, 'What is this?' At first it was very slow-going, people would look at them and be like, 'hmm,'and walk away. And then we started selling out. They're almost irresistible. And now it's snowballed into its own thing.Do the ugly Christmas sweaters that you buy have any special criteria? Do you look for anything specifically?
Literally, anything with bells and whistles. Anything that has sound effects. Bells. Lights. My buyers and I are all about that.Do you go on buying trips just for sweaters?
No, but it's become a big part of what we look for. Last year we completely sold out. We were featured on the Today
show; Jimmy Fallon was wearing one of our sweaters. Now I really have to actively seek them out. When I contacted you for this interview, you were out of town following a lead on some ugly Hanukkah sweaters. How did that pan out?
Pretty good. They're not nearly as plentiful as Christmas sweaters, obviously. But I kept thinking, 'Wouldn't it be refreshing to see some ugly Hanukkah sweaters?' I came across a Hanukkah sweatshirt, which I tweeted
, and it re-ignited the whole ugly sweater thing for me. At that point I was so tired of the whole thing. Here, I had a new hunt. Though there are some manufactured ones I've found, Hanukkah sweaters are more homemade and one-of-a kind. I love that.Do you own any ugly Christmas sweaters?
I don't. It would be too hard of a choice. I let the kids who work here borrow sweaters if they're going to parties. We have a few that are in rotation, ones that are part of our ugly sweater universe. Because there are always more out there to find. Below, some of Screaming Mimi's Hanukkah sweaters and uglier Christmas inventory.