The premises may be small, but the atmosphere and selection is unrivalled at a popular Christmas market in Peachland.
Thousands of delicate handmade tree decorations and unique wooden and ceramic gifts, imported from Germany and Poland, are for sale inside the market, set up in a corner of the Gasthaus restaurant on Beach Avenue.
“We have the kind of items you just don’t see anywhere else,” market operator Charles Sherman said Monday. “You could walk around in here for an hour and still not see everything.”
For many years, the 200-square-foot Christmas market was run by Werner Fischer and Joerg Hoerath, who also operated the Gasthaus pub and restaurant.
The opening of the authentic, two-storey German-styled pub in 2000 gave the town of 5,000 people its first beautiful commercial building. With its warm timbers, big fireplace, and nooks and crannies filled with antiques, the Gasthaus is a tourist attraction in its own right.
Fischer died last year and Hoerath sold the restaurant and pub. But they offered the seasonal market to Sherman, a Peachlander who had worked for Fischer and Hoerath from the time he was 14 until he was 24.
“Working at the Gasthaus was my first job. I started as a dishwasher, then moved up,” recalled Sherman, now 27.
After training as a pastry chef in Vancouver, Sherman returned to the Okanagan and started a business program at the college.
Currently, he works at Interior Savings in addition to overseeing the Christmas market, where the offerings include dazzling hand-blown glass baubles, intricately carved rotating pyramids, “smoking” shepherds, colourful clip-on birds and papier mache Santas made from century-old molds. Prices range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.
“I became good friends with Werner and Joerg, and I was excited when the opportunity came up to carry on the wonderful market they’d started,” he said.
“I’m trying to run it just as they did for 14 years,” Sherman said, adding, with a laugh, “but I did expand it a little to put in more shelves so customers don’t have to be quite so careful just turning around.”