13 December 2020

Boorowa's festive touch reminiscent of days gone by

| Edwina Mason
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Christmas display in Home Finch store in Boorowa.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! One of the windows in Boorowa’s Home Finch store. Photo: Ramona Munns, Instagram.

From Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman in New York; to Selfridges in London; Galleries Lafayette and Le Bon Marche in Paris; Brown Thomas in Dublin; and KaDeWe in Berlin – festive windows throughout the world are mind-blowing, footpath-jamming experiences.

Even closer to home, David Jones and Myer draw crowds not so much for the shopping, but for the windows surrounding the stores that always tell a story that celebrates Christmas.

And now you can see the same in Boorowa, in the Hilltops Region of NSW.

It’s a lovely story that unites the town’s history – one character’s presence at a beautiful little store in Pudman Street.

Like many country towns – the store represents rustic elegance at its best with a facade clad in glossy teal, railway tiles, huge plate glass windows, and topped with leadlight panels and a mosaic encrusted entryway that leads to a mighty timber door and delights inside.

Once known as Mercer’s, the store is now known as Home Finch, and Ramona Munns is the guiding light behind its range of giftware and goodies.

But back outside onto the footpath. Stop. Now look at the windows.

In fact, they’re unmissable and people have flocked to see the five-and-a-half hours of work Ramona put into dressing each of the four windows.

Each one is themed: Reindeer, Santa’s loungeroom (with chimney), Christmas tree, and gold, frankincense and myrrh.

It’s everything you’d expect from a Christmas display with snow, sparkles, twinkles, baubles, wreaths, tinsel, stockings and tonnes of red, gold and glowing stars. It’s positively dreamy.

Christmas window display at Home Finch store in Boorowa.

Santa Claus is coming to you! The naughty and nice list features in this shop window display in Boorowa. Photo: Ramona Munns, Instagram.

And it carries with it a tradition that harks back to one of Boorowa’s great characters – Paddy Donohue – who owned the Mercer’s store, which was big on menswear and worldly goods, for decades.

“When Paddy passed away, they kept all these Christmas decorations he used every year, and a local lady salvaged them and approached me and asked if I’d like to borrow them,” says Ramona. “That sort of dictated the windows this year because everyone remembers Paddy and his decorations.”

Paper baubles, gold curtains and wallpaper, and hanging decorations – all fragile with age – were handed over and shaped Ramona’s creative pathway.

“Inside, I just wanted to create what he used to do with the baubles, just for a bit of nostalgia,” she says. “And with the decorations, I just sat down and made a plan.”

Props included a giant reindeer, a tree, wrapped gifts, some naughty elves, foam packaging peanuts and Santa’s lounge, which is also for sale.

Christmas decorations inside Home Finch store in Boorowa.

Inside the store, a huge Christmas tree is complemented by former owner Paddy Donohue’s old paper decorations. Photo: Ramona Munns, Instagram.

“I just tried to make it up as I went,” says Ramona.

The displays have been a hit, especially with the kids at night.

“It looks very pretty at night and I suppose it gives that DJs [David Jones] feel in Boorowa – you know, go and look at the windows,” she says.

Inside, a spectacular live Christmas tree stands four metres tall; a leadlight skylight vigilantly watches over Santa’s mailbox; and there’s a festive table brimming with items you could eat.

Ramona says the hard work and care that needed to be taken with the older decorations has been entirely worth it for the feedback she’s had from people visiting the store and sharing their memories of Paddy.

“I even had a woman come in with a clipping about Paddy,” she says. “So that’s been really good for me to learn more about him.”

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