If there was a theme to the Holiday Bazaar in Secaucus this year, it was people turning their hobbies into small businesses, and running them out of their homes.
The event took place from 11 to 4:30 on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Recreation Center, 1200 Koelle Blvd. Nearly 50 residents and visiting vendors gathered to put their talents and passions to good use, creating and selling their arts, craft, foods, and knickknacks for the holidays.
Secaucus resident Victoria “Vikki” Paparazzo has been making chocolates and gourmet dessert items at home for about 15 years. Surrounded by her kids and nephews, her B&A Sweet Creations (named for daughters Brooke-Lynn, 9, and Annalise, 5) was doing brisk business doling out tasty goodies.
“It’s pretty happening,” said Paparazzo about activity at the bazaar. “The (chocolate-covered) Twinkies are a very big seller.”
At a nearby table sat former town resident Janna Kolic, another vendor of deliciousness with her company Sinfully Sweet Custom Cakes NJ, selling cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, and cookies. But it wasn’t dessert she had spread in front of her on a table at the event; it was colorful homemade scarves in many styles and colors, sold under her second company guise of Crocheted and Cozy.
“I’m kind of doing this to keep my mind off everything and keep busy. If I can sell it and make a little money, all the better.” –Janna Kolic
Jams and jammies
Jams by Kim sells artisanal jams, jellies, and spreads, handmade by Kim Osterhoudt. “She has a commercial kitchen in Mannville,” explained her daughter, Sara Osterhoudt, standing behind a table stacked with jars. “There are over 20 different flavors. She does a lot of different combinations.”
Some of which are rather unusual, like carrot and ginger jam, or roasted garlic and sweet onion. Or Sara’s favorite, Pinot Noir Wine Jelly.
Kim started making jam at age 13 and regularly gifted it to friends, who urged her to make it a business six years ago when she got laid off from her job. Her daughter helps out on weekends, when she’s not working at her day job for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.
“Everything is made with pure cane sugar except for three that are made with organic agave nectar instead of sugar for people with diabetes,” said Sara.
Michael Yoon used to design custom onesies for newborns, just for his own amusement, printing humorous sayings and images on the front. Then he met his wife-to-be, Esther, and Yoon Ink was born.
“I thought they were kind of funny and just sort of an inside joke with my friends,” said Yoon. “And my wife said, ‘You know what? There’s probably a market for it.’ It never would have happened if we hadn’t met. I don’t think I had the long-term vision.”
Together the pair design the products and screen print them at home, with plans for online sales. But first they are visiting flea markets and trade shows to test the waters and see which designs people find most appealing.
“I’m proof that my dad’s got game” was their most popular item, although sales in Secaucus were slow. Not enough babies, Yoon lamented.
“But people are responding well to it. They’re laughing. If you can walk away with a little chuckle, that’s great.”
Gifts for kids and adults
Christina Majka and Alvin Young are Pop Snatchers, selling vinyl pop-culture figures and toys. “It was my fault,” admits Majka. “It all started with a Steamboat Willie pop figure.” When the pair started dating she brought over some of her collectibles and Young was soon bitten by the bug.
That led to them purchasing in larger quantities from manufacturers and collectors, and eventually starting their own online business about a year ago, utilizing eBay, Facebook, and Instagram.
“You would think it’s all little kids buying them,” said Majka. “But people in their 30s and 40s collect them and don’t take them out of the box. So we have a nice age range.”
“The kids love them and get distracted over here while the parents get to go look at jewelry over there, so it helps everybody in the end,” said Young from their crowded stand.
Several vendors brought jewelry to the event. Rena Fata and Norma Di Bello together are Studio 53, based in Lyndhurst. They handmake their items, each with their own specialty. Fata opts for wire work while Di Bello prefers kumihimo, a Japanese technique of braid-making using eight colored strands.
In addition to holding classes, they create earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and more. “When you work with your hands it’s a different ballgame than when you go and buy it in a store,” said Di Bello. “If a machine does it, they all look the same. When I make, I make one. I don’t make the same one twice because I don’t like that.”
Diana Bullard sells a different kind of jewelry; machine-made but with a twist. “The theme of the company is that it’s a keepsake and it’s customizable and they want you to live happy. That’s their motto. They want you to have something that you can wear every day that inspires you.”
Keep Collective, based in California, creates attractive components that can be assembled into jewelry to fit the owner’s style and mood. Bullard was previously selling nail wraps when she encountered Keep Collective and became a vendor in March of this year. “I go to people’s homes and they have an opportunity to have a show and get jewelry for free, and I do private appointments and then I do vendor events,” she said. “It’s fun. And I get to wear it all.”
A day of activities
The event was followed by numerous other activities throughout Secaucus, including a holiday parade featuring the police and fire departments, the high school band, local officials, and even Santa Claus himself marching from the municipal parking lot near Huber Street School to the center of town.
Celebrations wrapped up with the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, complete with a petting zoo, wagon rides, free skating, music, food, and a movie in Buchmuller Park.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.