The Elmira Legion will be home to crafts and goodies of all kinds on March 26.
Maxine Joyette Metzger says she loves spreading joy in Elmira, her hometown. When the pandemic hit, the website designer started a business assembling and selling gift baskets called Joyful Gift Baskets. She focused on local products and received such positive feedback from the producers that she decided to expand and start Joyful Vendors Market – a series of annual bazaars featuring local producers.
She says she’s received really good feedback thus far.
“We had such a great overwhelming response after we set the first event date – it sold out in under five days – that we said, ‘OK, this is definitely something our small community needs here.’”
She says she started the market because she likes the concept of spreading joy. “I love to be able to support other small businesses as well within the community that I live in, I shop from, I’m raising my kids in. And I think it’s just really important that we can all support each other.”
The first annual springtime bazaar will take place March 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Elmira Legion. The event is free to attend for the public.
Wonita Emslie is one of the vendors who will be at the first market. She says it’s a good way to get into attending such events, rather than tackling the likes of the big crowds at, say, the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival or Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival.
“I thought, well, this is first annual, so it might be manageable for me just to work out the bumps and stuff like that and the wrinkles and then maybe attempt at bigger markets.”
Emslie’s side company, Wonita Milani, makes all-natural beauty and remedy products such as deodorants, creams, headache and migraine remedies, remedies for pulled muscles, arthritis, sleep and anxiety aids. She started making them for herself, and then giving them away to friends and family. Eventually people started giving her money, and her circle encouraged her to start selling them.
The Joyful Vendors Market spring event will be her first vendor event. She says she saw information online about the market and decided to register.
“It resonated with me. It was just, like, ‘you know what? Maybe this is what I need.’ I’m somebody that works really good under a deadline. And I thought this would be the spur maybe that I need – it just felt right.”
She says she’s getting a lot of help from friends and family who are helping her prepare products and do marketing.
Emslie says the challenging part of being a producer is that she has to wear all the hats of her business, including marketing, production, purchasing and inventory.
But the best part, “is finding out that people really like what I’m doing. That I’ve made something that’s really helped somebody and they really appreciate it. That just makes my day when somebody gives me great feedback. It just feels like, yeah, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. It feels really good when I know I’ve helped somebody.”
Metzger says she has more events planned for the summer, fall and winter as well at the Gale Presbyterian fellowship hall.
Though the March event is sold out, there is still space for vendors at the three other events.
Metzger encourages everyone to come out.
“No matter how big or small your business is, or whether you’re just new to Elmira, or you’ve lived here your whole life, let’s just band together and spread more joy and positivity in Elmira.”