The traditional St. Mark’s Emporium will be very different this year, as all fundraisers must be during the pandemic.
As always, it remains an opportunity to find hidden treasures, purchase elegant gift baskets, vintage, upscale clothing and accessories, jewelry, linens, art, and Christmas decor items, including fresh arrangements. The difference is all those items will be available for purchasing online, in a safe, virtual emporium, says volunteer Trudi Watson.
Volunteers have worked for months to set up a special website for the fundraiser, which will allow shoppers and church supporters to view the items online, make their choices, and then send an email specifying what they would like to buy, she explains.
They will then be given a time to pick up their purchases at the Byron Street rectory, where the items are now being categorized, displayed and photographed for the virtual sale.
Payment can be made by e-transfer or credit card online, or cash or cheque when they pick up their purchase.
“It’s the Haute Emporium,” says Watson, one of the many volunteers organizing the fundraiser, which has taken a lot of brainstorming, beginning in July, to come up with a safe alternative to the traditional event.
The missing element, of course, is the opportunity to visit the historic Byron Street rectory for the tea and goodies typically served as an integral part of the Christmas fundraiser, but when volunteers sat down months ago to talk about the event, the online version seemed to be the only safe way to offer it, says Watson.
However, having the empty rectory this year, after the departure of Rev. William Roberts, has been extremely helpful in organizing the goods for sale, she says, and provides “a beautiful environment” for the volunteers as they work.
The traditional bake sale, traditionally part of the fundraiser, was also cancelled, for health reasons.
Every one of the hundreds of items, from the tiniest piece of jewelry to the impressive gift baskets filled with all kinds of goodies for all occasions and ages, is being photographed for the sale, to be displayed in lots that will change as merchandise is sold. Volunteers will be reviewing the website, refreshing it and adding items as the sale proceeds.
There are several other event volunteers the women wanted to be sure are recognized: Anjulika Chand and Lucy McEwan who organized the jewelry; Mary Webster and Keith Bullen, who took on the art, Allison Kelly who worked on the website, and David Lesvesque.
The virtual emporium will launch Nov. 2, with no closing date at this point.
“When it will end, we don’t know,” says volunteer Sally Mitchell. “Our goal is to get it going, and if it’s a success, we’ll keep it going. We’re looking at it as a Christmas sale, but it could go on after Christmas.”
Each Friday and Saturday following the launch, volunteers will be at the rectory for the pickup of sold items, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The merchandise for sale has all been donated by parishioners and members of the community, says Watson.
“We have a very kind and generous congregation,” adds Mitchell.
The money raised will be used for the general operation of the church, she says.