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Empty big box store in S'ville transformed into 'Instagrammable' Santa’s Winter Wonderland pop-up

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SCHERERVILLE — The retailpocalypse has left the Region and the country littered with empty big-box stores in otherwise prosperous communities.

In Schererville, Santa's coming to the rescue.

A Santa’s Winter Wonderland interactive pop-up is taking over the former Ashley Furniture HomeStore at 1516 Indianapolis Blvd. The 60,000-square-foot building was most recently home to a Spirit Halloween costume pop-up store.

The immersive Christmas photo op and interactive experience will feature "33 hand-painted, twinkling Christmas and winter-themed attractions," including a Santa vs. Grinch wrestling arena, a peek into Santa's office and a life-size ornament.

Guests can write a letter to Santa and climb up to the North Pole Post Office, or peruse a holiday gift shop "with unique vintage finds." There are bounce houses for kids and ax-throwing for adults.

"Each installation is a work of art, with exciting activities and Instagram-worthy photo-opportunities, perfect for all ages," organizers said in a news release. "This holiday-themed attraction is perfect for one-of-a kind holiday parties, celebrations and corporate events."

Neighboring Ciao Bella Ristorante will furnish food that will be available for purchase, including with hand-made chocolates and treats. A 21-and-older lounge was supposed to offer beer and signature craft cocktails, but the state denied organizers a liquor license on Monday, forcing them to refund drink tickets that had been sold in advance.

The attraction opens Thursday and runs through Jan. 31. It will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. After 10 p.m., admission is restricted to those 21 and older.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for teens and $10 for kids 12 and younger.

For more information, visit


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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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