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Charly Haley, Published December 20 2012

Partygoers snatch up 'ugly' Christmas sweaters

FARGO – When it comes to the holiday season, apparently ugly is in style.

Driven at least in part by parties where the dress code calls for garish yuletide duds, local thrift stores are struggling to keep “ugly” Christmas sweaters in stock.

“People want them; that’s all that they want,” said Jeanne Hoselton, assistant manager at Savers in Fargo.

Janelle Mauch, 22, from Mantador, was at Savers on Thursday looking for this year’s selection to wear to an annual ugly Christmas sweater party she attends.

“Everyone thinks it’s kind of fun,” Mauch said. “It adds to the festivities.”

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch thrift store in downtown Fargo is almost out of seasonal sweaters unsightly enough to pass as ugly.

Erika Bjornson, a team leader and clothing worker there, said lots of customers come looking for them.

“Every day in December, at least five people per day,” she said.

Savers has sold about 1,000 sweaters since the beginning of December, Hoselton said. That puts them in third place for ugly Christmas sweater sales at Savers stores in the Midwest region, she said.

The thrift store chain is trying to capitalize on the trend, stocking away holiday sweaters all year to satisfy December’s rush to look unappealingly festive and even devising a way to turn regular sweaters into tasteless triumphs of irony.

The store has set up “transformation stations,” where employees gussy up sweaters that aren’t quite ugly enough. Customers can also transform sweaters themselves.

The sweaters are decorated by sewing or pinning on items like beads, bows and Christmas ornaments. Hoselton said a sweater she decorated went “from seasonal to as obnoxious as possible.”

She said customers like to get creative with decorating, too.

“I think, ‘Can it get any uglier?’ and they’re finding ways to decorate uglier,” Hoselton said with a laugh.

Both Hoselton and Bjornson said they don’t really know why ugly Christmas sweaters have taken off, but they don’t mind seeing the sweaters become treasures.

“It’s fun; it’s kitschy,” Bjornson said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311