Department 56


The History of Department 56 begins in Minneapolis, MN

Department 56 snowhouses and accessories can trace its Minneapolis roots back to 1976, when Bachman’s gave head designer and gift buyer, Ed Bazinet, the green light to import giftware from Europe. It didn’t take long for Bachman’s to recognize that this new import division needed its own identity. Ed suggested the name Department 56 because that was already the internal name that was used for accounting purposes, and he liked the way it sounded.

Before long, Ed was creating new products and looking for new ideas. It was on a winter evening during this early stage that Ed was traveling with friends and they rounded a bend in Stillwater, Minnesota. There, before them, was a snow-covered town with lights twinkling against the fresh fallen snow. He was struck by the charm and beauty of the sight of this small town at night. From then on, Ed and a talented design team kept dreaming up fantastic village themes with buildings and accessories to bring them alive. Tremendous growth followed, and Department 56 became one of the leading giftware companies in the world with a reputation for producing high-quality and trend-setting items.

Department 56 snowhouses and accessories took on a life of its own. It soon became clear that people were collecting the snowhouses and were eager to ensure they had all the pieces for their village. Retired Department 56 snowhouses and accessories were selling at unheard of prices, and collectors began forming groups to exchange ideas and pursue their hobby. In response to this new phenomenon, Paul Bachman created "The Village Gathering" at the Minneapolis Convention Center. From 1989 to 1999 the event drew thousands of people from all over the country to partake in village mania.

Bachman’s sold the Department 56 division in 1992, but the charm and mystique of the village product remains strong today, as a whole new generation wants to share the experience of setting up a tiny lit village with their children. As Bachman’s surpasses its 125th anniversary, it must be noted that the period from 1976 to 2000, “the 56 years,” were among the most exciting in the Minneapolis' company history.

Bachman's continues to be proud of our role in creating and bringing Department 56 first to Minneapolis and the world, as we continue to sell their wonderful product.


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