Although October is still settling, the holiday season is creeping on us. The season tends to start earlier and earlier, right?
This year, with the economy still shaky, it seems logical that holiday shoppers would want to start early by looking for the greatest bargains. While most stores haven't begun blaring holiday standards on repeat or decking their halls and walls, one annual event is kicking off the festivities. The Junior League of Tulsa's Annual Holiday Market is here to usher in the holiday shopping season. This is the third year for the event.
Katherine Haskell, the strategic marketing chair for Junior League of Tulsa, said the Holiday Market came about when another annual event hosted by the nonprofit ended. Bloomingdeals, the former retail-oriented event that sold gently-used donated items, was an event that was very labor intensive, Haskell said. The Tulsa league looked to their main league, The Association of Junior Leagues International, for ideas. The new concoction was to bring a variety of vendors under one roof for an event of great shopping, all in the spirit of raising funds for the JLT. Originally named Chic Boutique, the event changed its name to Holiday Market last year, which brings us to the event to date.
Holiday Market takes place Thurs., Oct. 8 through Sunday, Oct. 11 at the John Q. Hammons Arena at the UMAC (Union Multipurpose Activity Center), 6836 S. Mingo Road. Haskell said they expect this year's Holiday Market to be the biggest. The first year's event was attended by 1,500 people and then doubled the second year. JLT expects between 5,000 and 6,000 people this weekend.
The event kicks off Thursday with a preview party from 6pm to 9pm. A $25 ticket will get a preview party attendee food, drinks and 10 percent off select merchandise. The first 150 attendees also receive a goodie bag featuring items from Mary Murray's Flowers, Sephora and Whole Foods. Friday and Saturday will run from 9am to 6pm, and both days offer incentives, including the opportunity to win door prizes. The real treat is for educators. As a thank you, Haskell said that teachers who present a teacher ID will get in free between 4pm and 6pm on Friday.
What can one expect to find? Seventy-five vendors with a wide variety of offerings. Haskell said that in addition to having many Tulsa vendors, this year nearly half of the vendors are from outside of Tulsa.
Not only from other parts of Oklahoma but also vendors coming from as far as Maine and California. Haskell said the wonderful thing about having vendors from outside the state is that shoppers have the opportunity to buy items not otherwise available in Tulsa.
The vendors are varied, selling everything from accessories, apparel (for women, children and men), home décor, jewelry, photography, beauty and body products, food and beverages and seasonal items. The wide spread selection also extends over a wide umbrella of price points, too. Haskell said this great variety of toys, fine jewelry, men's shirt makers and holiday ornamentation under one roof allows shoppers to get everything for the holiday at one time.
Another Holiday Market Chair, Paula Settoon, said, "We're providing Tulsa shoppers the number one selection for the holiday and every day. Shoppers will find the perfect gifts for friends and family, teachers and coworkers. Anyone looking to update their wardrobe or their holiday decorations will delight in our variety."
Vendors from Tulsa at this year's Holiday Market include Happy First T-shirts, Tatermash, who make oil cloth bags, local online shoe retailer Moxie Shoes, Tulsa Ballet nutcrackers, Backstreet Photography and Mary Murray's florist featuring seasonal decorations. Haskell said the audience of previous Holiday Markets has consisted largely of women, varying from college-aged to senior citizens (who receive a 10 percent discount off their ticket price). Haskell said Holiday Market is popular with groups of families. She also recommended the market as a great place for men to do their holiday shopping. Haskell said the great quality and variety of items, including jewelry with diamonds and rubies, makes Holiday Market the place to get a loved one's holiday gifts. And with so many women in attendance, men who aren't certain of what to buy will have plenty of opinions on hand for assistance.
Other vendors include Beijo, a purse and jewelry company, Dazzling Divas Boutique featuring baby clothing and accessories and women's clothing and Sparkling Lollipop with handmade flip flops, Converse shoes and T-shirts glittering in Swarovski crystals.
There will be a variety of organic accessories including screen print T-shirts and handbags as well as organic aloe skin cream by Hawaiian Moon. Jewelry will vary, too, from Ashley's Minerals and Gems fine jewelry to Closures--Remnants, a line of re-purposed antique buttons, buckles and cufflinks jewelry.
Outside of fashion, there will be more than five gourmet food vendors with goodies ranging from dried soup and dip mixes (Darby Creek/Rand Hill Inc) to fudge, divinity and pralines (Holiday Farms). You can also get your home ready for the season with Season's Today holiday ornaments or maybe year-round with Scentables soy wax candles or The Home Maxx's pewter home items (think bowls, trays and gift items).
The Junior League of Tulsa's Web site gives a more extensive list of 2009's vendors and in some cases, links to the company's Web site, so that you can get a one-up on what to expect at the Holiday Market.
Gift That Keeps on Giving
While shoppers leave the Holiday Market with gifts in hand, the real beneficiaries from the event are Tulsa. Proceeds from the event benefit the JLT, which in turn filters into the community. The Junior League, an organization in Tulsa since 1923, is a non-profit organization of roughly 1,000 Tulsa women "committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers." Haskell said because of the economy every fundraiser and non-profit is suffering. Shea Eby, the Community Program Vice President said, "Without the funds raised through this exciting holiday event, we wouldn't be able to make such an important impact on the Tulsa community. This year alone, we're contributing almost 40,000 hours in volunteer labor and thousands of dollars in community project support for needy women and children. Holiday Market, combined with our other fundraising efforts, enables us to train women volunteers and support our community programs." Some of those programs include The Laura Dester Children's Shelter, The Children's Hospital at Saint Francis Family Resource Center, Resonance Women's Center and Global Gardens.
To find out more information about Holiday Market, the efforts of the Junior League of Tulsa or to purchase tickets to this year's event, visit jltulsa.org.
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