Port O' Call Pasadena, a five-store chain selling antiques, clothing and gifts, started cranking up the Christmas spirit in late August by displaying dozens of limited-edition carolers.
Susan De Land, who selects Christmas merchandise for the retailer, maintains that customers clamored for an early chance at the quaint, open-mouthed figures. Handmade by a family in Chalfont, Pa., they have developed an avid following, she said.
"The carolers have become so collectible," De Land explained. "People want to have first shot."
Until three years ago, Port O' Call waited until late September or early October to put out Christmas items. But it bowed to shoppers' wishes that they get a head start on ordering carolers and other seasonal items such as ornaments and needlepoint Christmas stockings that Port O' Call sends elsewhere to be inscribed.