Booming Business Brings Caroler Figurines To Pottstown

One of many caroler figurines that has become artist Joyce Byers' stock in trade

POTTSTOWN PA – A new exhibit that features hand-crafted carolers created and designed by Joyce Byers of Byers’ Choice Ltd., the bustling Bucks County figurine business that grew from only a table in a Philadelphia area home, will open Monday (Nov. 7, 2011) in Montgomery County Community College‘s North Hall Art Gallery, 16 High St., Pottstown.

Byers began making her first carolers at the dining room table in her home about 30 years ago, and sold them at craft shows and small shops in the Philadelphia area.

“A scrap of fabric, part of my mother’s old fur coat, some hair from the kids, a coat hanger, some plaster and paint. The first ones were made with simple things that I had around the house. I dressed them in plaids and made them cheerfully singing, because that reminded me of Christmas,” Joyce states on her company’s website.

As the figurines gained popularity, the business grew. Byers and her husband, Bob Byers Sr., started Byers’ Choice Ltd., which now employs about 120 artisans and has become one of the largest Christmas handcraft companies in the country.

Byers still designs all of the carolers herself, and they now reflect many holidays throughout the year. Jeff and Bob Byers, her two sons, are actively involved in running the business. Each year, its visitor center attracts more 70,000 people; special events frequently attract between 3,000 and 5,000 participants.

An opening reception for the exhibit is scheduled for next Wednesday (Nov. 9) from 5 to 7 p.m.; and a “Meet the Artist” reception with Byers is set for Nov. 13 (Sunday) from 1 to 3 p.m.

The exhibit, “Handcrafting Christmas Tradition In Our Community,” continues through Dec. 16 during regular gallery hours, Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The gallery is closed weekends, except for Nov. 13. Both the exhibit and receptions are free and open to the public.

For more information about the exhibit, call Montgomery County Community College Galleries Director Holly Cairns at 215-619-7349, or send her an e-mail, here.

The holiday exhibit is sponsored by long-time college supporter and philanthropist Alma R. Jacobs, an Emeritus Foundation board member and honorary alumna. Over the years, Jacobs has been an avid supporter of the arts and art galleries at the college.