Annual bazaar promotes local artisans and stress-free shopping

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:55

    SPARTA — Elizabeth Bell knows how to relieve stress. She has been teaching yoga at the Sparta Ambulance building for over 13 years, helping her students to feel calm and tranquil. But during the holiday season, it is challenging for students to relax and focus with thoughts of the long list of holiday tasks on their minds. Four years ago, she came up with the idea to ease the holiday stress of Sparta residents for a day by encouraging them to spend their shopping dollars locally, helping out local merchants. The First Annual Holiday Shopping Bazaar was born. Bell rallied her students, local businesses and the community to put the word out that she was looking for local artisans to sell their handcrafted wares inside the spacious Sparta Ambulance building, with all of the proceeds going to the Sparta Ambulance Volunteer Squad. It was an instant success. Soon word got out. Shoppers came from Sparta and the surrounding towns to discover unusual artisan gifts in a cheerful atmosphere. This year’s shopping event is on Saturday, November 5th from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Sparta Ambulance Building at 14 Sparta Avenue in Sparta. Free parking is available on the side and back of the building. Light refreshments will be available. “Each year brings more unique vendors and more shoppers,” says Bell, “Raising awareness of this local shopping experience has been so successful that next year we’re going to open the downstairs for over 15 more vendors in addition to the 26 vendors in the main part of the building.” Peggy Laddey, a local repeat shopper says, “I’ve attended the Holiday Bazaar each year. The turnout is incredible. The second year was in the middle of an ice storm, and there were even more shoppers than the first year. Fourth year is coming up and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s much more fun and relaxing than going to the mall for holiday shopping, and I always find great stocking stuffers too. And my favorite jewelry designer will be there — I wouldn’t miss it!” Some of the featured original designs and crafted works include infinity scarves, one-of-a-kind handmade bags, handcrafted jewelry, mouth-watering jams made at a local organic farm, wood-carved items, rocks and gemstones, handmade chocolates, unusual glass jewelry and ornaments, watercolor paintings, hand-made marionettes, and pen and ink animal illustrations. “The holiday Bazaar is a fun way to kick off the holiday shopping season and bring the community together,” said Elizabeth Bell, of White Oak Yoga. “It will give local businesses an opportunity to show off their high-quality creations and get everyone excited about shopping locally. And it gives me the opportunity to give back to Sparta Ambulance for opening this lovely space for yoga classes all these years.” Visit the White Oak Yoga website at for more information or call Elizabeth Bell at (973) 729‐1900. Direct donations can be sent to: Sparta Volunteer Ambulance Squad, P.O. Box 246, Sparta, N.J. 07871. Sparta residents have been mailed a Fund Drive letter with a return envelope for donations.