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2017

Philadelphia Magazine

Kindy’s: The Tinsel Capital of America

Inside Kindy’s, South Philly’s secret Christmas juggernaut.


By · 11/25/2017, 8:58 p.m.

 


Kindy’s: Where South Philly’s gotten lit since 1981. Photograph by Jeff Fusco

When it comes to trimming the Christmas tree, I can be a real stickler. In most other areas of my life, my friends and family will attest, I’m pretty laid-back. “To each his own” is my motto 11 months out of the year. But every December, I snap into a trance-like state of Yuletide perfectionism the likes of which only Santa himself could relate to. I can’t even blame this seasonal character shift on eggnog. I never touch the stuff.

If the lights aren’t big, bright and multicolored — God help my family. If the Trinacria clan’s Douglas fir isn’t drowning in silver tinsel, it might as well be naked. Here in Philadelphia, a reverence for tradition is deeply ingrained in the culture. And with winter a time of peak nostalgia, if Christmas doesn’t look a certain way for folks like me, warm and fuzzy feelings can swiftly devolve into a string of bah humbugs.

Luckily, deep in South Philly there’s an unassuming one-stop shop dedicated to the classic Christmas aesthetic I and so many others swear by. Passing through the heavy vinyl strip curtain at the threshold of the unassuming Kindy’s Factory Outlet where 20th, Moyamensing and Penrose converge is like a baptism, guaranteed to cure even the Scroogiest cases of the holiday blues. Bubble lights, garlands and other old-school holiday decor never went out of style here. But Kindy’s isn’t for the faint of heart: Think Christmas Village meets Thunderdome. The driven, die-hard clientele is bound to provoke a new appreciation for your own dysfunctional family — a Christmas miracle!

To enter this winter wonderland, guests must first sidestep any unaccompanied children wandering the warehouse floor as their parents argue over which wire-framed sculpture would look best on the front stoop. The aisles are always in a state of chaos, to the point where shopping for any specific item becomes part scavenger hunt, part kismet. Kindy’s even lets you test out your lights before purchase (but definitely not their artificial snow spray — I learned this the hard way as a youth). A stone’s throw from I-76, this place can only be described as “so Philly it hurts.”

Warts and all, Kindy’s is just staying true to its roots. The outlet was established in 1981 at the behest of neighbors clamoring for a more streamlined avenue to the good stuff. Kindy’s is the singular retail arm of Brite Star LLC — a local manufacturer that has made Christmas its business since 1932. There’s a rumor floating around the Internet that Brite Star invented tinsel way back when. It’s fake news, the stuff of urban legend, and if you ask Kindy’s namesake Kinderman family about it, they happily give credit where it’s due. But they don’t go out of their way to silence the whispers. Why should they? Brite Star may not have conceived of the festive tree adornment — credit there goes to the Germans, circa, like, 1610 — but the company more or less owns the product now. Judy Kinderman — whose son, Richard, represents the fourth generation of Kinderman family ownership — says Brite Star holds roughly 80 percent of the U.S. tinsel market. Eighty percent!

Three million packages of silvery icicles (a.k.a. tinsel strands) are made annually at Brite Star’s compound on South 20th Street, and while carriers across the world stock the company’s hallmark item, there’s only one place I’ll buy the stuff. Sure, a trip to Kindy’s is a bit like a visit with your crazy drunk uncle, but I agree with Clark Griswold’s assessment of the holidays in Christmas Vacation: “The most enduring traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin.”

Published as “Tinsel Capital of America” in the December 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

 

  

A Very Philadelphia Holiday

Whether it’s sipping hot chocolate by the Christmas tree, sledding down rocky steps, or the smell of gingerbread cookies baking in the oven; the holiday season brings to mind so many warm thoughts.

This year, as an official sponsor of the Philly Holiday Festival, One Liberty Observation Deck will be sharing some of Philadelphia's own most cherished traditions with our visitors. Discover what locals look forward to each year when the frost hits the air in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Pennsylvania Ballet's George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Back by popular demand, the Pennsylvania Ballet will showcase the beautiful costumes and set scenes from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®. 

Miracle on S. 13th Street sponsored by Kindy's Christmas Factory Outlet

Pulling inspiration from what is consistently ranked as one of the best holiday displays in the country, we are creating our own Miracle on the South Window.

Decor and lights are sponsored by Kindy's Christmas Factory Outlet, South Philadelphia's premier holiday decor shopping destination.

Mummers Parade

This 118-year-old tradition that focuses on folk art takes place every year on New Year's Day. Mummers in elaborate costumes strut down Broad Street in vibrant and colorful dancing displays. The Mummers Museum will showcase costumes from all five divisions: Fancy Division, Wench Division, Comic Division, String Band Division, and Fancy Brigade. 

Come and learn about what makes the holidays so special in Philadelphia and share with us your holiday traditions on our Wall of Traditions!

A portion of proceeds during the holidays will be donated to our community partner, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region. 


NEWS

5 festive ways to get your Philly holiday season started now

Admit it: You need a little Christmas, right this very minute

 

The holiday season soft-launches in Center City this weekend, as Franklin Square lights up and Dilworth Park freezes over. Other Philly parks and public spaces from the riverfront to City Hall will open for the winter season over the next few weekends.

And not a moment too soon: With the Eagles on the bye week and earlier darkness, your weekend is looking a little bleak. Why wait until December to get in the spirit when there's so much to do before then?


1. Kindy's is OPEN and it's time to get your place holiday-ready

 

 

 

Nothing says Christmas like a holiday light show synced to Van Halen's "Runnin' With the Devil," amirite?

 


A few things to know about the Kindy's Christmas Factory Outlet, the big warehouse you drive by on the Expressway west of Broad Street.

Not everything is a bargain, but the room of decorated trees is good for inspiration and a walk-through with little kids. And you're not going to get one-of-a-kind, locally handmade items here, but the aisles are stocked with every kind of tree decoration, lawn ornament and garland, along with wrapping and other holiday-related items. We guarantee you'll find something you forgot you needed but can't leave without.

It's located at 2900 S. 20th St., and isn't much to look at, inside or out. But a trip to Kindy's is an annual part of our Philly Christmas, and it's worth going early enough that you can put out sweet new decorations before the neighbors. If you're petty like that, which we totally are.

 

Nov. 7, 2017

 

 

2016

December 20, 2016

 

Mayor Kenney Inspires Kindy's, the Philadelphia Christmas Light Factory 

 

It's the Season of Lights, a special time to show compassion and kindness towards others as Mayor Kenney encouraged all at the annual Philadelphia Tree lighting on November 26, 2016.  Kindy's Christmas Factory Outlet is making good on this - Brightening the lights for a few special families this holiday season!  

  

Looking at Kindy's Christmas Factory Outlet from the outside, your impression might be a cavernous, sprawling warehouse.  However, if you travel deep inside the massive building and thick concrete walls, past bright lights, the joyful Christmas Village and train, pre-lit trees and walls lined with holiday tinsel, you arrive at the heart of the company. 

         

"Christmas is a family time of year. And being in a family business, the Kindy's family is extremely pleased to reach out to others in need," says Richard Kinderman, President of Kindy's, a 4th generation Philadelphia based company. 

 
Kindy's has partnered with CityTeam Chester to help three families in need by donating a Pre-lit tree and all of its fixings. CityTeam offers a variety of services to help individuals and families during a time of crisis; food boxes, meals, counseling and support, even baby items.  

 

Several families will smile a little easier and a little brighter this year knowing they will have a Christmas tree, lights, ornaments, tinsel, icicles and a pretty tree topper all included in their Kindy's Christmas Care Kit! And in the true spirit of Christmas, decorating the tree together is an uplifting holiday tradition.  

 

In addition, Kindy's has partnered with the Fraternal Order of Police to support two very special families of fallen police officers this holiday season. The Kindy's Christmas Care Kits were personally delivered with warm smiles, compassion and joy to these families. "We hope we can bring some holiday cheer to these families who've dedicated their lives and lost their loved ones protecting the city of Philadelphia. God bless them and all who serve us," says Richard. 

  

Inspired by Mayor Kenney's address, where Kindy's is the annual sponsor of the tree's 5000 led lights, a Christmas miracle doesn't have to be a large act to make an impact. Simple acts of kindness, generosity and compassion like these are the little miracles that make a big difference and the holiday season brighter!  

 

About Kindy's 

Kindy's Factory Outlet Store opened in 1980 as part of Brite Star Manufacturing Company, a well known Christmas manufacturer, located in South Philadelphia. Literally opening its warehouse doors at the request of neighbors of this South Philly plant, the factory outlet sold the tinsel garland, icicles, light sets, tree toppers and ornaments that the company manufactured and imported since 1932. 

Individuals can also visit http://www.kindys.com and follow at @kindysfactoryoutlet. 

 


KINDY'S GIVES AWAY 98 FREE TREES!

98 tree giveaway wogl.jpg
wogl.cbslocal.com

Christmas will be in the air this weekend at the Kindy’s Christmas Factory Outlet in South Philly… and the scent of Pine trees !

WOGL listeners and Kindy’s visitors will have a chance to take home FREE Christmas trees, while the Breakfast Club broadcasts live  from 10AM to1PM.

If you’ve never been to Kindy’s Christmas Factory Outlet, you are missing out. They have almost any kind of light or Holiday  decoration that you can imagine. Kindy’s makes sure that Christmas is covered with everything from wrapping paper to icicle lights to flameless candles.

Kindy’s is more that just a place to pick up your Holiday decorations, it’s a Holiday destination. They have light shows, Santa, and a whole lot of family fun! On Saturday, come out and join your new Christmas classic station for holiday fun.

Come out and make some Christmas memories !

Kindy’s Christmas Factory Outlet
2900 South 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19145

Kindy's Donates Decor to Lemon Hill Mansion-

Tour the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park During

‘A Very Philly Christmas’

The mansions are all decked out for the holiday season.

 

Laurel Hill Mansion. Photo by Lauren Schwarz

Laurel Hill Mansion. Photo by Lauren Schwarz

It’s the 45th year for the holiday house tours in Fairmount Park and the six historic homes known as the “Park Charms” are all decked out and ready for visitors. They open Thursday, December 1st, with new events tied to this year’s theme, “A Very Philly Christmas,” taking place over two weekends.

Saturday, December 3rd, is Sounds of the Season day, with Philly musicians playing in different houses throughout the day, including the Mummers All Stars in Lemon Hill Mansion and Cedar Grove, the Clef Club in Mount Pleasant, the Quiet Storm doo-wop group in Laurel Hill Mansion, Opera Philadelphia Victorian carolers in Woodford, and the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra string quartet in Strawberry Mansion. The roving beer garden Parks On Tap will be popping outside of Strawberry Mansion.  

 

Mount Pleasant. Photo by R Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Mount Pleasant. Photo by R Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Family Day is Sunday, December 4th, with visits from Santa, performances by Spiral Q Puppet Theatre, Revolution Shakespeare and Walnut Street Theatre, and other kid-friendly activities.

Next weekend, Neighbors Day is Saturday, December 10th, and Flavors of the Season is the following day, with samples from old-timey candy store Shane Confectionery, old-timey restaurant City Tavern, Yards Brewery, Philly Pretzel Factory, and other local spots.

Admission is $8 per house, with kids 12 and under free.

In addition to the two weekends of programming, the six homes host Christmas open houses all through December ($8 admission, kids free). Trolley tours run Thursday, December 15th to Sunday, December 18th.

 

Philly Holiday Tree star of night at Lighting Celebration

The joy of the Christmas season filled Center City during the Holiday Tree Celebration at Dilworth Park. (WPVI)
Monday, November 28, 2016

The joy of the Christmas season filled Center City during the Holiday Tree Celebration at Dilworth Park.

"It's one of a kind. It's the first city. It's the original. It's just a great city," said Tammy Oliver of Manayunk.

Christmas lights and cell phone screens lit up the night as the crowd enjoyed classic holiday songs and mesmerizing dances.

"I thought it was really great. I didn't know what to expect the show was going to be, so we had a lot of fun. She likes dancers so she was excited," said Valerie Steiner of Langhorne.

"I really enjoyed the dancing as well because it's very interesting the type of style they were doing," said Gavin Steiner of Langhorne.

Keeping the crowed energized - and warm - on the ones and twos was Dylan Curtis aka DJ D-ILL - a pro at just 11 years old, who was specifically requested for Saturday night's festivities.

"They wanted a kid DJ, not an old person, a kid DJ," said Dylan Curtis aka DJ D-ILL.

But the star of the night was the dazzling 40-foot tall fresh Colorado fir tree that was topped off with a liberty bell, crack and all - oh and it hid another surprise.

"For the first time in our city's history the official Philly Holiday Tree lights will be powered using wind power," said a

"No matter what your religion or how you celebrate the holidays or don't celebrate the holidays, this tree is a big kiss to Philadelphia," said Jeff Guaracino, President and CEO, Welcome America, Inc.

It was created by award-winning production designer David Korins, who had a unique approach to the base of the tree.

"It's kind of like a snow globe, and each one of the signs and cuts outs is representative of a special part of the city, so we did a lot of research and took iconic stops along the way in every neighborhood," said Korins.

It's a magnificent start to the Christmas season in a way that's uniquely Philly.

"I thought the event was great. It was fantastic. The tree lighting ceremony was awesome. All the special events. You just needed to be here," said Oliver.

 

 

2015

KINDY'S MAKING SOUTH PHILADELPHIA A TRUE 'TINSEL TOWN '

Four generations of the Kindermans have been creating Christmas memories for families all over the world since the early 1900s.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015 08:49PM

If there's tinsel adorning your Christmas tree this year, you might love to know that 80 percent of the world's tinsel is made in South Philadelphia.

It has been that way for more than 80 years with the world's tinsel trail leading right to Kindy's.

Four generations of the Kindermans have been creating Christmas memories for families all over the world since the early 1900s.

In fact, you might call South Philly the real 'tinseltown' because, as legend has it, the very first strands - all glittery aglow - were created here back in 1932.

"The icicle is the first tinsel that we manufactured," Judy Kinderman said.

Back then those icicles were made of lead and despite the fact that Britestar, their manufacturing line, had to switch to shiny PVC in the 1960s after lead was banned, the Kindermans say customers still ask for it.

"Because of the lead, they were able to hang delicately and beautifully on the tree and that was something that people loved," Judy Kinderman said.

She tells Action News late husband, Sandy, was the third generation of Kindermans, a real Mr. Christmas, you might say.

"His nickname was the 'Tinsel King.' He would come home from work during manufacturing season and the pieces of tinsel would be on his shoes and he would track them into the house," Judy Kinderman said.

On Wednesday, their son, Richard, was running that tinsel train at full steam with 2.8 million boxes going out this year alone.

"1,000, 2,000, and 3,000 count and they are still going on people's trees and giving memories to families all over the country," Richard Kinderman said.

The factory may look dark now, but that's because peak tinsel making season is the summer.

"Santa's elves are upstairs working in the hot summer to get everyone's tinsel out the door on time," Richard Kinderman said.

The family says the fact that it's still being produced here at home is precious and rare.

Kindy's is having its very first post-Christmas blowout sale this weekend, up to 90 percent off.

Upcoming Events For 2014

TREE GIVEAWAY - 98.1 WOGL'S "The Breakfast Club" includes air personalities: Ross Brittain, Valerie Knight, Frank Lewis and Bill Zimpfer will be broadcasting live Saturday, December 13th from 10am to 1pm at Kindys. Giving away 98 Christmas Trees (while supplies last). Winners will line up and get a chance to spin the 98.1 WOGL prize wheel. Land on a Christmas tree and win a free tree!!

TREE LIGHTING - Kindy's Sponsors the 19th Annual Philadelphia City Hall Tree LightingJoin Kindy's Chiristmas Factory Outlet in Dilworth Plaza this Wednesday Dec 3rd at 7pm for the 19th Annual City Hall Christmas Tree Lighting.  For the 3rd year in a row, Kindy's has provided all the lights and decorations for the event.  That's right - you can get the same lights & decorations for your home, right here at Kindy's Christmas Factory Outlet, and Kindys.com!

2013

TREE LIGHTING -  2013Kindy's Sponsors the 18th Annual Philadelphia City Hall Tree LightingJoin Kindy's Chiristmas Factory Outlet in Love Park downtown this Thursday Dec 8th at 5pm for the 18th Annual City Hall Christmas Tree Lighting.  For the 2nd year in a row, Kindy's has provided all the lights and decorations for the event.  That's right - you can get the same lights & decorations for your home, right here at Kindy's Christmas Factory Outelt, and Kindys.com!Kindy's Decorates John DeBella's StudioTune in to 102.9 WMGK 11/30 from 7-9am:  Kindy's is decorating John Debella's studio!


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$<7>*6"*6"*
".*1 "
#)H
%8:7'
Historic Holiday Nights in Old City""+57
!E4  *!*),4
?=" 0$8*8$*
A 8""+%96*W
8=$*
71
Old City District Design Tree!57))!
#$
 !?="
!*+-3E 
Boathouse Row Holiday Lights *7
?="*7;
)$76.$7".