RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Joanne Caine has been selling holiday collectibles in Midlothian for 15 years. She takes pride in peddling high quality merchandise.
"Anything from the Erzgebirge region of Germany," she said.
That's where most of the quality nutcrackers and smokers are made.
"Steinbach, Christian, Ulbricht; a lot of the ones we get are from KWO," said Caine.
One way to tell the age of your nutcracker is the stamp. Older nutcrackers are marked "Made in West Germany". They were produced before the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.
"You should always keep the box," added Caine.
Boxes show details about where the merchandise comes from and who manufactured it.
"It's just part of the collectability, same with the Department 56. You have to have the box. It's the whole package," she said.
Snow Village hit the market in 1976. Some pieces are worth much more than others.
"Limited edition pieces, pieces that only come up for one year, sometimes you can get a piece that's signed. We had one called Mickey's Diner and somebody traded it for a used car," Caine commented.
In 1986, Department 56 made 3500 Norman Church Buildings. Each one is now worth thousands of dollars. The Halloween haunted mansion with the black roof is extremely rare - it's valued above two-grand.
If you chip them, lose accessories or beat up the box, these items lose value. That's why Joanne says -- go for items that do not have electronics.
"The animated pieces will never appreciate in value as much as the simple pieces because the animation eventually will break down on you," she said.