Questions and Answers
with your host,
Q. What got you started hosting bazaars?
A. I started doing bazaars as a vendor about ten years ago*. I was struck by the varying attitudes of each host in relation to how they treated their vendors. Some were very involved with making the day fun and as stress free as possible. Most treated me as a number, and never once came by to ask how I was doing, or if I needed anything. I decided that I could do better, and began planning my first bazaar.
Q. What do you think sets you apart from other bazaar hosts?
A. Well, for starters, I don't host bazaars to make money. That sounds really strange, I know, but that's not my goal. I want to give my community a fun, relaxed day, where families can come and shop in a safe place. I enjoy people watching, and seeing everyone enjoying themselves is my "pay".
Q. You have a reputation for spoiling your vendors.
A. Yes, that's something I'm very proud of. We really try to make a wonderful day for the vendors. I want them to feel appreciated and respected for their work. After all, if it weren't for them, I wouldn't have a bazaar to host!
Q. So what do you do to spoil them?
A. We provide a volunteer staff to help with unloading and loading their vehicle. The volunteers also step in to watch their booth for bathroom breaks. We also supply free refreshments throughout the day like bagels and cream cheese, muffins, fresh fruit, and beverages. The free Santa photos are a hit too.
Q. Free Santa photos?
A. Yes (smiles). My husband, Mike, plays Santa. I'm Mrs. Claus. We set up a big "country cabin" style backdrop and allow people to bring their camera for free photos.
Q. Why do you do this, and why free?
A. We started it our third year hosting. I decided to give it try to bring in more customers. One young mother came to me and thanked me. She said that with three kids, and only one income, it was impossible to pay the mall prices for Santa photos. She hugged me so hard! I told Mike, and we decided to make it a tradition. People come every year with their kids and pets just to get pictures, but they always end up shopping!
Q. Did you say pets?
A. Oh yes! Mike and I are very involved with our dogs, and consider them part of our family. I think it's important to have the entire family in photos, not just the humans! We've always allowed people to bring their pets for the photos, and will continue to do so indefinitely.
Q. You support non-profit organizations as well, we hear.
A. Oh yes. Each year we donate at least one booth to a non-profit animal welfare group, and a portion of our sponsor's fees cover booth space to general non-profits. It's a way to get the organizations some extra publicity and, hopefully, lots of donations.
Q. Are your vendors successful?
A. Most are, yes. At every
show there will always be varied levels of sales success. Most
vendors do well, and are very happy at the end of the day. Some
do just so-so, and some do poorly. There's no way to gauge it.
That's one reason I do all I can to make it a fun day. My goal
for the vendors at the end of the day is to have them able to
say, "Wow, that was fun!" and "Man, was I treated
well!" If they feel that way, then I've done my job.
*This interview was conducted in 2005.
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