Nate Strine & Austin Sullivan - Serious Fun

Nobody’s quite sure why or when the marriage of irritating itchy wool and holiday cheer coincided to create the first tacky and atrocious Christmas sweater, but it’s a tradition that’s lived on year after year. Like something from the mind of a deranged Martha Stewart type obsessed with Christmas, the idea of having an unavoidable giant felt Santa Claus plastered across your chest spreading holiday cheer to everyone seems like it might have gotten a little out of hand at some point. By accident, that sweater we all dreaded getting as a present, or the one we never wanted a family member to wear in public, has become an ironic holiday tradition in itself. 

“The bigger the Christmas tree or Santa Claus the better, is what we’ve found people were looking for,” says Nate Strine, who opened the Ugly Sweater Shoppe along with Austin Sullivan last year. “Really just the more of anything Christmas related the better. Glitter doesn’t hurt either.”

In the back room of their design offices in New Albany, Strine and Sullivan have amassed an inventory of more than 700 of the uglier and tackier sweaters that could be found in the greater Columbus area. Racks are covered with red and green and reindeer, the stuff that ugly sweater party enthusiasts hope to find hidden in the crawl spaces of their grandparents’ houses. The racks read like an evolution of the ugly Christmas sweater: from the more traditional, to the ’80s snow and school-inspired, up to the new brand of sweater that is made for the sole purpose of being ugly.

“When we started doing this, we went around and looked for some of the worst ones that we could find through the Internet and thrift stores,” says Strine. “Really, though, the best ones that we’ve gotten came from grandparents and moms of friends who have brought them by to help us out. I’m not even really sure where they find them.”

After being well received last year, the Ugly Sweater Shoppe is becoming a winter tradition for Strine and Sullivan, who are just trying to do their part to make everyone’s ugly sweater party filled with items grandma would sport. 

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