Keeping the Faith
The response was overwhelming, to the point where the ornaments were gone in no time, bringing in tens of thousands of dollars for the cathedral. In fact, the response was so swift and the demand so great for the ornaments that the campaign did in fact become a series, just as Rechtiene had envisioned. Each year, a different stained glass window at the Savannah Cathedral is featured as the ornament, and the campaign has evolved from a one-day sale around Advent to a yearlong annual campaign that begins in the new year.
The ornaments have taken on such a life of their own that they are now collector’s items that basically sell themselves, according to Rechtiene. She and her husband were going to every Mass on Ornament Sunday those first two years to sell the “Christmas” ornament, and it was becoming a bit much for them to handle on their own. But then she noticed that people began to look at the ornaments at the new year as well, not just around Christmas, so the cathedral decided to start releasing a new ornament each year and sell it year-round. It was no longer viewed as a Christmas ornament, but a collector’s item. Over the past six-plus years, the ornaments have become such hot items that the Savannah Cathedral no longer even needs to take out extra ads or have those special one-day sales.
Beyond that, since Savannah is a big tourist destination and the Savannah Cathedral one of the city’s hot spots, the ornaments have become a hit with tourists as well, not just the parishioners.
“We’re open every day to tourists and worshippers alike. We have a ready-made audience, customer base,” Rechtiene says. “We’ve even had people come back because we’re a stop on the way for the snowbirds going south and then going back north, and some will stop and see Savannah. And those that might have picked up an ornament will stop just to get the ornament for the new year.”