Shop-a-thon brings Christmas magic early

Patrons with a desire to shop locally had their hands full at the Winter Wonderland Shop-a-Thon Nov. 10 at the Ponoka Legion.

Patrons with a desire to shop locally had their hands full at the Winter Wonderland Shop-a-Thon Nov. 10 at the Ponoka Legion.

Eager Christmas shoppers had a chance to support many local and home-based businesses in what organizer Charlotte Winters hopes will be an annual event.

“Most of the people (vendors) here are moms or people that work from home,” she said.

Her goal was to bring different types of retail products to give people a choice in what they were buying. “We have absolutely everything.”

Taking a real look at her advertising budget, Winters was not out to make money but more to give people a reason to come to Ponoka. Advertising went into newspapers, radio spots, flyers and even with a Facebook group.

“Just on Facebook alone we’ve had 250 RSVPs,” stated Winters.

She received some reluctance from vendors who were unsure if taking a trip to Ponoka would be worth their while but the $45 they spent on a table appears to have been worth it. More than 500 shoppers came to see what was available. Winters feels the shop-a-thon is an opportunity to promote family businesses and based on her experience, “I hope it removes the stigma of Ponoka being closed off.”

With 50 vendors signed up from Red Deer, Edmonton, Lacombe and Ponoka, people lined up to get a grab bag and to sign up for the many door prizes offered.

Shopper Lisa Behrens heard about the event on Facebook; she does her shopping in advance. “I like to get my shopping done before December.”

She uses a smartphone to keep track of what gifts belong to whom.

One vendor, Michelle Huston from Lacombe, looked forward to the day.

“I’ve seen quite a bit of advertising,” she said. “I’m really excited, excited to see all the vendors. I think it’ll be a great turnout.”

A photographer, Deanna Besuijen, from Lacombe, was showing off her portrait options and had a Christmas photo booth for kids to get their Christmas cards early. She praised Winters for her work to get the shop-a-thon going. “You get what you put in and she’s put in a lot.”

Stacey Makar is an artist from Edmonton and she heard about the event through Kijiji. Her goal is to get her name and art to more people.

The Winter Wonderland Shop-a-Thon brought children’s books, cookware, gifts, pottery, craftspeople, candles and many more to the Ponoka Legion. Winters had helpers giving out candy to shoppers and Christmas music was playing for all to hear.

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