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Why We Retire Pieces

on February 17, 2022

In 2020 Department 56 made a really tough decision, something that they hadn’t done in many years – they decided to retire a whole Village, the New England Village which was first introduced in 1987, and in 2021 they retired a second Village, Alpine Village, which had been offered since 1986. Oh, no, you say! Would this be a trend? Was this the start of the end of all Villages?

Alpine Village House

The short answer is “no.” While our artists loved designing each of these Villages, each has always been smaller with fewer introductions each year. Like a small Alpine Hamlet in the mountains, or a quaint New England Village in the country or at the coast, these Villages grew like the real places that inspired the designs If these picturesque towns grew, they developed into larger cities and we call them Dickens’ Village (based on Victorian London) or Christmas in the City (inspired by American cities like New York, Philadelphia or Chicago). While the time period was similar for all four Villages, we know from history, that cities like New York and London grew loud and spread like topsy, smaller towns grew more slowly, and more quietly. We liked that these Villages appealed to different collectors, and we especially liked giving you choices.

Alpine Village House

Because they each had a very specific appeal to a smaller portion of our collectors, and not all retailers carry the smaller Village lines, it became increasingly harder for us to produce a minimum number of pieces of each design. So, in 2020, it became evident that we would, reluctantly, have to say good-bye to both Alpine Village and New England Village, so we chose to end them on their own terms.

We announced the end of New England Village in the fall of 2020. No more pieces would be added. It was a sad farewell, but necessary. We knew that Alpine Village was also going to retire, but the designs for 2021 had already been completed and we opted to let collectors know at the beginning of 2021 that this would be the last year for this beloved collection.

You may still see pieces from both these Villages on various websites as we and our retailers sell through inventory. The reason is that there is still a little selected stock available, and there may even be an opportunity for retailers to reorder remaining stock. But once these pieces are gone, and our warehouse is empty, there will be no more new designs.

Like you, we will miss these Villages, although the possibility will always be there for a new addition to our family tree.