To succeed as Mrs. Claus in a world of more than 10,000 competitors, Pam Sattler knows she needs to stand out. There’s no costume. There are no reindeer. But Pam has an edge: She lives in North Pole, Alaska.
“A lot of Santa companies say they’re at the North Pole, or they’ll stamp the North Pole, but they’re not in the North Pole,” Pam says. “If it doesn’t say North Pole, Alaska, it’s not from the North Pole.”
Pam began building her Christmas-themed business in 2002.
“I had just gotten a two-year degree in applied business with a focus in entrepreneurship,” she says. “I knew I wanted to start my own business.”
Pam was a travel agent for many years and watched as the industry changed.
“Travel agencies were going away because the internet was coming on board,” she says. “I realized I could create a business that even though it made my old career go away, was going to benefit me in my new career playing Mrs. Claus.”
Santa’s Letters and Gifts was born. The company sells high quality, personalized Santa letter packages assembled in Alaska and shipped from the North Pole post office.
Focusing her work on Christmas was an easy choice.
“I love Christmas,” Pam says. “I’ve loved it since I was a small child.”
Pam grew up near Boulder, Colorado, where her family made an adventure of going into the mountains and picking out a Christmas tree.
“My parents always made it special,” she says. “It always seemed magical. I thought, ‘I want to create that magic for my children, and for other people’s children, too.’”
Pam began taking classes in graphic design, web design, typography and publication design. She designed Santa-themed stationery, mailing tubes and envelopes.
The company’s base product is a letter from Santa. Online shoppers choose from a list of about 15 different text choices.
“You don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you want to say,” Pam says. “It’s already said for you.”
There are letters for babies, teens and adults. One is for someone in the hospital. One is for non-believers. There’s a letter for families, too.
“They’re very similar, but they talk about what Santa’s doing, or what’s happening at the North Pole,” Pam says.
Pam personalizes each letter with the recipient’s name, city and state.
Shoppers can add on other items to their order, including books, ornaments, earrings, coffee, hot cocoa and stuffed animals. Multiple packages are available.
“We sell a lot of Santa letters with books,” Pam says. “We sell quite a few of the earrings with letters, too. People like getting gifts in a tube.”
Pam’s husband, Bob, helps assemble the orders. Her sons, Mathias and Sam, have pitched in throughout the years as well.
“We put it all together and send it out,” Pam says. “It all gets mailed from the North Pole post office.”
A letter in an envelope starts at $10. A letter in a tube with an ornament starts at $20. Shipping costs are additional.
Pam handles up to 500 orders annually. In a typical year, a few orders arrive in September. More arrive in October.
“After Thanksgiving, businesss picks up for two weeks or so,” Pam says. “We shut off orders around December 9-10 every year to ensure everyone gets their order.”
Early orders are sent out the first week of December, and then as orders come in.
“I have a lot of repeat customers, many for over a decade,” Pam says. “Some fall away because their kids grow up. We don’t hear from them for a few years, but then they come back because they have grandchildren.”
Pam says the business is fun and rewarding.
“I used to get more phone calls from children, leaving messages for Santa, and it’s really fun to listen to those,” she says. “I’ve even gotten adult messages for Santa, too.”
Her business supports other Alaskans as well.
“I try and keep as much money in the state as I can to support other vendors,” Pam says. “I wanted to try to buy everything in Alaska, but it’s just not possible. There are many things that aren’t made here.”
Although most of the business is online and in the lower 48, Pam sells items locally to the North Pole Chamber of Commerce. She has wholesale accounts with some gift shops in Alaska, Princess Lodges and some museums in town.
“We love what we do, and it’s a joy to bring happiness to children all over the country,” Pam says.
For more information, go to SantasLettersAndGifts.com.