Holiday Marketplace Draws Shoppers To Cultural Center
SCRANTON — Billie Jo and her husband Mark Sontheimer have been making elegant outdoor decorations from junk for so long, they’ve seen faded fads re-enter vogue.
From her vendor stall at the seventh annual Buy Local Holiday Marketplace Sunday inside the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, Billie Jo Sontheimer sold wind chimes, whimsical windmills made from spoons and rebar, and curious so-called Rockshrooms, which look like big mushrooms. They have stones on top and cement stalks cast from concrete that handily pass for the real thing — or, at the very least, summon a double-take.
“People today are buying,” she said with cautious optimism in her voice.
She and her husband have been crafting full time for 12 years and own the company Woodland Creationz near Williamsport. She joined dozens of other vendors hawking jewelry, trinkets and delicacies.
Analysts predict that with a stronger economy and high consumer confidence, Americans will set holiday spending records this year.
Whether their shopping sprees give the most vulnerable class of gift-sellers — the traveling kind who pack up all their inventory at night — a boost remains to be seen.
Sue Guzik, who with her husband, Dave Guzik, owns Fly Me Home decor in Pittston, said she expected a slower turnout on Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday when independent shops roll out their best deals, because Black Friday sales were so robust.
“We were jammed; we were mobbed,” she said incredulously and in between a steady stream of customers from their corner in the cultural center, where she sold recycled items, including jewelry cast from flatware and wall hangings from chunks of glass.
Among artisans and stall sellers, Sontheimer said the overall mood is mixed, and her peers in the industry still see plenty of window shoppers squeezing their wallets with prejudice.
Vendors often say they find eager shoppers with loosened pocketbooks at the cultural center’s event.
Cultural center Executive Director Deborah Moran Peterson suggested shoppers are in the mood to spend because the day falls on the heels of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, and right before Cyber Monday, when online shoppers hope to find best deals of year.
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