It’s a tiny house project supporting a real-life tiny house project.
Passersby in downtown Langley may have noticed the recent installation of a festive Christmas village outside gift shop Fair Trade Outfitters.
The miniature village is part of the city’s annual “Deck the Doors” contest for merchants. Lilly and Barry van Gerbig, owners of Fair Trade Outfitters, decided this year to draw attention to a local housing project that’s near and dear to their hearts.
Later this month, they plan to sell or auction off the houses displayed in their Christmas village scene, with all proceeds supporting Tiny Houses in the Name of Christ. Also known as THINC, the Langley affordable housing development will consist of nine 264-square-foot homes when completed.
“We’d like to really drum up some interest in THINC and have people look at the tiny houses and want to purchase one,” Lilly said.
During past holiday seasons, Fair Trade Outfitters has been recognized for its unique decorations that have caught the eye of interested buyers.
“One year we made very big angels and we were able to sell the angels and donate 100% of the proceeds to the Whidbey Homeless Coalition,” Lilly said. “Things like that make us happy.”
This year, they figured what better way to support tiny homes than with tiny homes?
Lilly, her husband Barry, her mother-in-law and several friends have been busy painting birdhouses since September. The result is a whimsical, gingerbread house meets fairytale fantasy village. One of the small structures is a treehouse castle that towers above the others, and another is a miniature replica of the Fair Trade Outfitters storefront.
All the houses are outfitted with lights, making them just as pretty of a sight during the night as during the day.
“We’d love for families to know to bring down the kids, because it’s just something fun to look at,” Lilly said.
The village is located in the two planters outside the front door of Fair Trade Outfitters. Each house is secured with Velcro strips and shielded from the elements by the store’s overhanging roof.
While working in her shop this past weekend, Lilly heard from plenty of admirers.
“What I hear a lot of when I’m in the store is, ‘Oh I want to live there,’” she said.
Even Coyla Shepard, one of the founders of THINC, was taken aback by the festive scene.
“It’s the best miniature village I’ve seen,” she said. “It’s incredible.”