By STEVEN NALLEY
The value of a Christmas present can’t be judged by its size.
Jennifer Gregory, vice president for tourism development with the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, said this year’s Holiday Bazaar has fewer vendors than it did last year when it first moved from the Mississippi State University campus to the Sportsplex. There will be 92 vendors this year, she said, but 25 more are on the bazaar’s waiting list, so the Starkville Main Street Association could have driven the vendor count past last year’s 110 if so desired. When it comes to bazaars, she said, less is more.
“We actually re-did the layout of the vendors a little bit this year,” Gregory said. “We added an extra aisle down the center of the main gym, which is actually about an 8-foot aisle. We felt like that would be a better experience for the shoppers if they had a little more room.”
The SMSA will hold Starkville’s 39th annual Holiday Bazaar at the Starkville Sportsplex today and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
On Tuesday night, the SMSA held a preview for the bazaar, giving shoppers advance access to the vendors’ selection as well as a hot chocolate and mini-dessert bar.
“This is the first year that we’ve done a preview party,” Gregory said. “We decided to do it because we had some requests from shoppers last year that wanted to be the first ones to shop (instead of having) to wait in line or shop with all the other people that come on Wednesday and Thursday. A lot of other holiday shows, like Mistletoe Marketplace (in Jackson) and a couple of other really large holiday shows, do such a thing. So we decided to do it this year.”
The preview is not the only new addition to the Bazaar, Gregory said.
“Of those 92 (vendors), probably 15 of them are new, maybe a few more,” Gregory said. “The rest are returning vendors.”
As in years past, Gregory said, the bazaar will give Starkville shoppers a unique shopping experience, with several vendors coming from as far away as Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana.
“A lot of the vendors are from not just Starkville; in fact, just a very few are from Starkville,” Gregory said. “Most are from all over Mississippi or even out of Mississippi. A lot of these vendors actually don’t have store fronts, so that’s fun for people to have the opportunity to shop with people that they normally wouldn’t have the chance to shop with.”
Gregory said she enjoys having a variety of vendors come from out of town, especially when it benefits Starkville in the long run.
“All of the vendors do collect sales taxes on what they sell, and that money goes back into the community,” Gregory said. “It’s nice to have a variety of items to shop for that may be a little bit different, but it’s nice that they’re a benefit to the economy of Starkville as well.”
Gregory said several restaurants will set up carts for the bazaar’s Food Village, including Ty Thames of Restaurant Tyler.
“Sweet Peppers (Deli) and also Hobie Dawgs food cart are going to be set up selling food,” Gregory said. “We want to give people the opportunity to come during their lunch hour or at night and be able to shop and grab something to eat while they’re here.”