Chapter 1: The Fifty-Sixth Department

Our story begins, as stories often do, with a dreamer.  Rudolph Augustus Lund had spent half his youth with his face buried deep in books of science fiction or fairy tales or perhaps even Philip Marlowe mysteries.  The other half he spent daydreaming about falling headfirst into one of these great adventures (mostly while he should have been doing his chores or homework or feeding the dog).  When he got out of grammar school, he found that people with whom he wanted to be friends–and the prettiest girls–often found his daydreaming and fairy tales to be embarrassing, and thusly so did Rudolph.

So naturally, when he finished his lower education, he went to school to become an accountant.

He was decent enough with numbers, being of rather impressive intellect, but no child ever dreams of pushing buttons on an electronic abacus for fifty hours a week at a firm.  Still, having convinced himself that he had chosen a career wisely, he finished his education.  The time came to apply for employment.  Each time he filled out an application, making sure to print clearly and fill in all bubbles with appropriate ink or pencil, he felt like he’d accomplished something, like he was growing up a little and leaving the most embarrassing parts of himself farther and farther behind.

Being an experienced and clever reader of tales, You and I know that Rudolph (who is “Rudy” to those who know him, and so he will be to us) was lying to himself and people he wanted to call friends.  Thankfully (for this would be a dry story indeed were it otherwise) the little part of Rudy that so loved Knightly Tales of Courage and Salty Stories of Sea-monsters had not withered completely from his heart, but still resided there, not-a-little-dusty from being left unused for so long.

Do you believe in Fate, dear reader? Or are you a proponent of Divine Intervention? Or perhaps you simply feel that things of this nature are a Tremendous Coincidence?  No matter, no matter.  The truth matters most, and the truth is that Rudy applied for many, many jobs, but found only one, which is often auspicious in a story of this kind.  He found employment as a Certified Accountant via an advertisement in a local paper.  The interviewer asked him a great many questions about his feelings on odd things like “weakness of stomach” or “loss of limb,” to which Rudy said he really hadn’t given much thought.  Silently and to himself, Rudy thought none of these oddments sounded very pleasant, but that having filed his application for the post of Accountant, he shouldn’t find himself in many situations of that sort.  The interviewer hired him for the job on the spot, and he was to report the following week’s Monday to headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota.

It was an unassuming company that advertised being special experts in “Authentic Miniature Replica Buildings and the Research Thereof.”  Rudy did not know quite what that meant, but bookkeeping was bookkeeping, and he was quite sure that even companies such as this had books to keep or cook.  This is an opportunity that will get my foot in the door of the accounting industry, he thought.  He packed everything he thought he might need for the summer months in his champagne sedan, and steered his way towards his new job in the Fifty-Sixth Department.

(to be continued)

#milliesblog – our first post

Today is an auspicious day.

Millie’s Hallmark, a one-of-a-kind gifts, collectibles and Christmas store, has been a fixture in the Ahwatukee, Arizona community for over thirty years.  Today, we’re hoping to become a fixture in your community, and we’re taking big steps in that direction.  In addition to our new blog space here on WordPress, we are also premiering a shiny new website at

On that site, we have added all the current and new Department 56 Village pieces, as well as accompanying accessories and cross product.  We also sell Wee Forest Folk, and are looking forward to adding a great many product lines to our online catalog.

Henceforth, you can check here for entertaining, informative, often hilarious blog posts about exciting products we carry, anecdotes from the private journal of a retail clerk, and fantastical stories from a time-travelling correspondent.  Of course we want you to look at our products, but first and foremost we want you to be entertained.  Millie’s has always been a place where people can feel at home; now, thankfully, you can welcome us into your own home.

Thank you