Busi­ness gets fes­tive for the hol­i­days

DiFrancesco Garage Doors gets into fes­tive mood

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bri­ana Con­tr­eras bcon­tr­[email protected]­ingjour­nal.com @MJ_B­con­tr­eras on Twit­ter

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.

BRI­ANA CON­TR­ERAS - THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

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.

BRI­ANA CON­TR­ERAS - THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

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.

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