On Saturday, November 19, a crowd gathered at The J for an evening preview of the second annual Snowflake Shoppe. The holiday bazaar, which opened to the public on the following day, Sunday, November 20, offered a unique shopping experience to The J members and all of Louisville.
What started as a winter fundraiser last year has now doubled in size to more than 80 vendors with more than 700 people in attendenace. The idea is simple, according to Mindy Mannel, Early Childhood Assistant Director, give community members a chance to shop for the holidays in a different way.
“They can get – really with the variety of vendors – all of their holiday shopping done without the mad chaos of going to the mall,” says Mannel.
Louisville resident Robin Ashbury found truth in this statement.
“I’m now at an age when me, my sibling, my friends we have enough,” Ashbury says. “Isn’t that a blessing? And so we are saying we are not going to swap a gift unless you find something that’s perfect and reasonably priced, and I found perfect.”
Ashbury heard about the Snowflake Shoppe online and the event was her first time inside The J. She was not only impressed by the craftsmanship of pottery she purchased, but she also praised the beauty of the venue.
“This is lovely,” Ashbury says. “I’m coming next year.”
The Saturday preview offered about 125 people a more exclusive shopping experience. Door prize drawings, a beverage, desserts and appetizers were included in the cost of admission.
The free Sunday event drew approximately 600 shoppers and guests. The first 25 visitors received swag bags with free gifts. Sunday shopping provided new experience with the addition of an Israeli inspired shuk, Hebrew for market. The Snowflake Shoppe shuk, housed in the Patio Gallery, offered both delicious food and important cultural experiences.
“I think the non-Jewish crowd learned a lot just seeing and eating and hearing what was going on at the shuk,” says Mannel.
Sasha Chack, a member of The J and owner of Izzy’s Kosher Catering, expressed excitement at sharing his cooking at the Snowflake Shoppe shuk.
“I’m really happy to bring kosher and especially well made and innovative Jewish foods to the Center, so it’s really exciting,” Chack says. “It’s really great to … challenge people’s perceptions of what kosher food is or what Jewish food is. … The flavors and the smells and the colors of Jewish food can be vibrant. It can be fresh. It can be well made and creative, so that is what I am trying to bring here.”
Chack was not the only person involved in the holiday bazaar excited to bring vibrance to The J. Community members, as well as staff, worked hard to make the event possible. Keren Benabou, Nikki Grizzle, Allison Gotting and other committee members were crucial to bringing the event together.
“First of all these are a phenomenal bunch of women who volunteered, gave up their weekends … with their own families,” Early Learning Center Director Norma Cahen says, “We work here, but their children go here.”
Cahen’s praise of volunteers’ hard work serves as a reminder that the event was about both fun and fundraising. Cahen and Mannel plan to use the proceeds to purchase a shade structure for the small playground. At The J, holiday shopping gives the gift of future growth to the Early Learning Center.