Amy Beard holds up a balloon of Olaf the Snowman. She was one of the many vendors taking part in the Sharebear Bazaar on Saturday

Amy Beard holds up a balloon of Olaf the Snowman. She was one of the many vendors taking part in the Sharebear Bazaar on Saturday

Sharebear Bazaar does brisk business at Stettler’s Rec Centre

The Hub, Stettler Seniors' Drop-In Centre, including the landing upstairs and meeting rooms, except for the library at the...

The Hub, Stettler Seniors’ Drop-In Centre, including the landing upstairs and meeting rooms, except for the library at the Stettler Recreation Centre (SRC) was taken over by the eighth annual Sharebear Bazaar on Saturday, Nov. 26.

The bazaar featured home-based businesses, local craftspersons and artisans, and baking. The money raised by the Sharebear Playschool Society goes towards paying the rent on their new playschool building, purchasing or upgrading toys, acquiring crafting materials and developing programs for its children.

Ruby MacDonell, president of the Sharebear Playschool Society, said the event was a success.

Even though final numbers aren’t tallied yet, MacDonell said she is certain that the playschool raised more money than the previous year.

“Attendance might be down a little bit, but the people who came made purchases,” she said.

It’s now been over a year since the playschool moved into its new building – it officially opened in October 2015 – and things are “wonderful and amazing,” MacDonell said. The annual bazaar helps keep it that way.

The Hub was full of tables with potential holiday gifts, some from well-known Stettler vendors, and others from those from a bit further away.

One of the meeting rooms upstairs was turned into Santa’s Workshop, a free day care area for children of the shoppers. Caregivers could drop off their kids, knowing they’d have the opportunity to enjoy some Christmas-themed crafts, while they shopped.

A second meeting room became the South Pole, where more vendors had set up shop, while the Hub remained the North Pole.

Amy Beard was one of those vendors, making the drive into Stettler from near Delburne.

Five years ago, while planning her son’s birthday party, Beard looked into hiring a balloon twister for the party. With none in the rural central Alberta area, she was forced to look at the bigger cities, and the price was simply out of range for her.

Still determined to have balloon animals at her son’s birthday, Beard went and bought some balloons and started watching videos on how to twist, with the balloon animals and swords becoming popular at her son’s party.

“You definitely feel the economy right now,” Beard said as she twisted a white balloon into the shape of Olaf the Snowman, from the Disney film Frozen. “It’s good to get my name out there, and there were plenty of people here. The bazaar has been well attended.”

Miranda Coenen had a table set up, where she sold her Younique cosmetics. The certified make-up artist at Country Girl Pretty said that she made a decent number of sales, but even better was the connections she made with people who browsed.

“It’s not always about sales,” she said.

The biggest change to the bazaar this year was its expansion to take up more of the space available at the SRC. This year and for the first time, the bazaar expanded to a second room.

“We had about 50 vendors,” MacDonell said. “Right at that 49 or 51 mark.”

She said it’s encouraging to see so many Stettler and area businesses come out to support the playschool by buying up tables at the market, something that allows the playschool to keep its rates lower while providing top-notch equipment, toys and activities.

“It’s getting bigger every year,” MacDonell said. “We’re very grateful.”