Despite the cold, VCU’s Rams Bazaar Holiday Market generated much student interest last Thursday. The Bazaar, sponsored by VCU’s Green Unity, represents the efforts of the organization to establish a feeling of community and diversity between students and the surrounding Richmond area.
Vendors for the Bazaar were accepted on a rolling basis via online submission forms sent to the organization through email and Facebook.
The Rams Bazaar site invites “creative, ambitious and environmentally conscious entrepreneurs, creators and growers…to sell and celebrate the harvest/holiday season by becoming vendors at the event.”
“We spent many weeks gathering vendors,” said Ashley Grupenhoff, a VCU student and Green Unity member. “Everyone is so down to help and very friendly.”
The hardest part of launching the event, according to Green Unity members, was the incorporation of technology.
“We had to set up credit card scanners for every iPod issued to the vendors,” Grupenhoff said. “(That) was probably the most difficult.” Vendors had the option of taking cash or issuing a receipt to the customers, which the customers then took to a separate area to pay for with a debit or credit card.
The initial launch of the market was on Earth Day this past spring. Because of its success then, Green Unity plans on making the Bazaar a regular event.
The Bazaar consisted of a collection of vendors from a variety of disciplines and locations, varying from VCU students to regulars at the various farmers’ markets around Richmond.
Tables at the Bazaar included promotional stands, craft tables, clothing vendors and booths with baked goods. Students could purchase items like fair-trade jewelry, locally grown veggies and one-of-a-kind sweaters.
Ellie Doughty, a student in the VCUarts program, sold handmade journals and sketchbooks at the event.
When asked about the handling of money, Doughty explained that money made by the vendors was theirs to keep. The event does not require vendors to pay Green Unity for their sales.
“It’s really easy,” Doughty said of the process. “You just pay a little table fee, it’s a good deal.”
For some, regulations imposed by VCU in relation to the Bazaar fueled determination to bring their projects to fruition. The VCU Campus Chefs, a new organization promoted at the Bazaar, found a new location due to regulations placed on the selling of food.
“You can’t sell food here without a registered kitchen so we found a place next to the Cary Street Gym,” said Mandy Fitzgerald, president of the organization. “And that’s where we will meet. We are really excited.”
Green Unity plans to continue its efforts to unite the Richmond community with the return of the Bazaar this spring. Information for prospective vendors will be released at that time.