Church bazaars help jump-start holiday shopping
The weekends prior to the holidays are usually filled with shopping, but not all people flood malls.
Instead, some business goes to congregations carrying on the long-standing tradition of church bazaars a fundraiser, craft show, lunch and socializing event all wrapped into one, usually with an overriding Christmas theme.
Saturday was no different, with several Mount Airy churches decked out in twinkling lights and garland, hosting their annual bazaars.
Saint Michael's Catholic Church's Bazaar was in the swing of things, rooms overflowing with goods, as people wandered around crafters, eating food.
"We had over 600 people last year and I think we'll pass it," said Connie Bly, who is in her seventh year of organizing the event.
On Saturday, she stood in a room full of games and toys where her grandchildren, outfitted in Christmas sweaters for pictures with Santa, sifted through the tables. "It's 12 [noon], and we've already had 400 people."
A vendor room was added this year, with vendors from Tupperware and jewelry to dog outfits and bowls, as well as a "sell your gold" group.
Shopper Annamae Thomas was visiting her daughter, Cindy Wesolowski, a vendor at the fair. She headed into the elevator from the upstairs rooms to the gym downstairs, lined with tables of jewelry, bee products, handmade goods and food.
"I bought more than I intended," she said, holding a bag with a spice rack, toaster cover and microwave grilling plate, bought at a fraction of the original prices. "It's cheap."
Judy Hubble, a Point of Rocks resident, was one of the vendors in the warm gym. "It's artistic, but it's also a stress relief," she said of the hand towels at her table. She only does about five or six craft shows in the nearby area for the holiday season.
Vendors Derek and Natalie DeLong came to the show from Pennsylvania
The married couple, who are in their fourth year of the show, only do the one bazaar, selling wreaths and ornaments. "We got married in this church, I grew up in this parish," said Natalie DeLong, saying it was nice to come back and see people, while also seeing some of the unique crafts and ideas at the fair. "It's just for fun more than anything."
Bly said the event has expanded after starting out more than 30 years ago with a group of women in the church who met year-round to create products for the bazaar.
Volunteer Jean DeLong stood in one of the church's upstairs room ready to answer questions from the people browsing through used items. At St. Michael's, the congregation is involved with the event, donating items for the sale that benefits the church.
"Each parish, each church does it differently," she said. Usually in bazaars, vendors pay for their spot then retain what they make from their sales.
Jane Barger is the organizer of the St. James Episcopal Church Home Business Fair. It's the third year for the show, which originated as a way to raise funds for the church's building fund.
She said she started planning the event in September, a shorter time than other bazaars because people didn't have to make things, but instead just call consultants. Instead of paying for a spot at the fair, vendors instead donate an amount of what they earn at the sale.
She said the show has about a 75 percent return rate of vendors over the past three years, but this year a couple dropped out after having to go back to work full time.
"It's hard, we're low on attendance this year," she said, citing the economy, as well as the abundance of craft shows and bazaars on the same day. "There's not as much discretionary income to spend."
For Mount Olive United Methodist Church, the annual Christmas bazaar is its sole fundraiser.
"It's really our only money-maker of the year," said member Freda Condon. "We don't have vendors; it's all our own stuff." Church members make and sell breakfast and lunch along with the toys, baked goods and crafts at the event.
She said the church has been doing the event for a long time 20 years or more.
"We always have a good crowd it seems like," she said. "I think they go from one to another."
-Calvary Lutheran Church, 16151 Old Frederick Road, Mount Airy, will host a Christmas market 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday. Includes homeshow vendors, white elephant table, baked goods, cheeseballs and homestyle lunch and dinner. 410-489-5280. www.celconline.org
-The Bazaar of the Churches will take place 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Lisbon Fire Hall, 1330 Woodbine Road, Lisbon. Participants include Lisbon United Methodist Church, Shepherd of the Glen and St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Handmade crafts, holiday decorations, handmade candy, three raffles and Entertainment Books for sale.
-Grace Episcopal Church, 5740 Green Valley Road (Md. Route 75), New Market, will hold its holiday bazaar 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Hand-made crafts and home business items for sale, silent auction, quilt raffle and visits with Santa. 301-865-3270. www.gracenewmarket.ang-md.org