Organisers were blown away by the thousands who turned up to their inaugural Great Christmas Market at Founders Heritage Park.
They seriously underestimated how many would come, with the street and car park jammed with cars, and shoppers queuing outside the Granary where the 42 stalls were yesterday.
"We were not expecting so many people," said Fleur Woods, one of the three market organisers. "We were amazed because there were so many other events on, especially the A&P Show. It was a little bit overwhelming to begin with."
She said they predicted 2000 would come across the whole day. "But when we had 1200 in the first hour Founders had to stop counting because that's not really what we needed to be doing."
She estimates 4000 or more came.
Some decided not to queue and either wandered around Founders or left.
Mrs Woods said inside the Granary there were a couple of unhappy people but most were gracious and after the first hour the atmosphere mellowed with carol singers and a violinist entertaining the crowd.
She believes the market was so successful because of widespread promotion in the community and because it was new. "Christmas is a good reason to shop and people are looking for something different. I think the idea of supporting local makers appeals, people like seeing money going back into the community. It was something a little bit different, and people thought let's see what this is all about."
The market also had good lead-up promotion from the Nelson Mail and other businesses, and on Facebook, she said.
She estimated $30,000 in sales to the 42 stallholders, whose wares ranged from jewellery to toys.
Louise Douglas, who made nearly $2000 with her jewellery sales, said she was so busy she had to restock during the day.
"I couldn't believe it. I thought it was going to be good because I knew the organisers had put a lot of effort into it but I didn't expect it to be so packed. It was almost a frenzy."
Her mother, Rachel, came by to say hello but she ended up behind the stall helping.
First-time stallholder Stef Dodunski, of Little Pixie Design, said she figured the market would be popular from watching the organisers' Facebook page but was surprised yesterday. "It was mindblowing. They opened the door and there was a sea of people and it continued. It was a shock."
Her self-made creations ranging from treetop angels to wreaths were popular and she sold out of some lines.
Mrs Woods said next year the market would likely move into the bigger Energy Centre and possibly the Granary as well.
- The Nelson Mail
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