Business gets festive for the holidays
DiFrancesco Garage Doors gets into festive mood
For the last few years, DiFrancesco Garage Doors & Electric Openers in Lorain has transformed from a garage service shop into a winter wonderland during the holiday season.
Owner Mitch Witherell has put his life-long passion for Christmas into the shop, 3300 Oberlin Ave., with thousands of decorations and holiday collectibles since he took ownership in October 2015.
Witherell, 55, is known as “Mr. Christmas” from his staff, friends, family and clients once his lights and decorations go up, not only at his home, but at the shop beginning the second week of November.
After a week’s worth of time to put up roughly 5,000 new to old decorations from inflatables, lights, collectibles, projectors and trees, DiFrancesco Garage Doors becomes more jollier.
“I want it to be happy for everyone,” Witherell said. “There’s so much bad in the world. We need something to brighten things up.”
He said he simply wants people to come in and enjoy the displays he has because after the new year, it all goes away.
Witherell said he dedicates his time to decorating and appreciate’s this holiday the most because he shared the interest with his late father, Lyle Witherell.
The younger Witherell recalled watching some of his Rankin/Bass favorites like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” as a child.
He also said his father got into the Christmas spirit and decorated their Grafton home like a model train around their tree.
Decorating his storefront today brings back memories of when he was young and owners of shops in downtown Lorain or Elyria would light up their buildings with displays.
“We would drive downtown just for that reason,” Witherell said. “I miss it. I need it.”
Transforming his shop is his way to share memories with other adults or create new ones.
Witherell includes many new and vintage Christmas displays most don’t see today.
“It makes a lot of people from the older generation smile when they see decorations or items they remember seeing in the past,” he said.
Witherell said he collects new and old items from different generations to change the look each year.
He said his newest decoration, a 30-foot inflatable Santa Claus, will be placed on top of his roof for the first time this year. He is planning to get it up as soon as the weather is reasonable.
Witherell also has his two small dogs Gigi, 2, and Izzy, 3, that help spread the cheer throughout the year at his shop.
For the community “Neighborhood people stop in like kids and residents and say they can’t believe they see something so beautiful,” Witherell said. “They’re happy to see something different. It’s something that’s not done anymore.”
He said many of his clients and others familiar with what he does also contribute to the winter wonderland by donating decorations and ornaments.
“I just really love this,” Witherell said. “It’s just so peaceful and everybody’s happy for just that little bit of time and are nicer to each other.
“I like to see that; when there are more smiles and people are kinder.”
To help spread more cheer, his shop will collect items for Toys for Tots until Dec. 9.
For donations or to take a look at Witherell and his staff’s work, visit the store hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday.
Mitch Witherell, owner of DiFrancesco Garage Doors & Electric Openers, 3300 Oberlin Ave. in Lorain, has become known as “Mr. Christmas” because of the large displays he puts up in his shop during the holidays.
Mitch Witherell has been decorating his shop for the last few years. This year, he has about 5,000 decorations inside, including inflatables, trees, lights, collectibles and more.