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XMAS BY THE SEA (article first published : 2005-01-11)

Xmas By the Sea was conceived about seven years ago by Bluff crafter Sheila Nichol and her friend Zelda Martin to enable them to sell the different items that they make during the course of the year. At the same time they asked a couple of other crafters to join them, raising the number involved to about a dozen.

The first Xmas by the Sea was attended by invitees only but the following year, it was decided to hold the event in October as well as November for four days and the project was well on its way.

“We don't quite know how it has grown so,” says Sheila, “but over the years we invite crafters that we see have interesting products and in turn they apply to join us. We have a stalwart group of Bluff regulars who have supported us since the beginning, some have dropped out, some have grown bigger, all enjoy it. Of course it works both ways, they support us and in turn we make sure that we do the best we can by them and do as much publicity that we can without it costing too much, which entails a lot of footwork!”“We don't quite know how it has grown so,” says Sheila, “but over the years we invite crafters that we see have interesting products and in turn they apply to join us. We have a stalwart group of Bluff regulars who have supported us since the beginning, some have dropped out, some have grown bigger, all enjoy it. Of course it works both ways, they support us and in turn we make sure that we do the best we can by them and do as much publicity that we can without it costing too much, which entails a lot of footwork!”

Over the years, the group have built up quite a large data base of customers through asking how new customers come to hear about them and taking their details. After the event, a newsletter is sent out, thanking everyone for their participation and a later mailing informs them of the year-end event dates, etc.

“We encourage crafters to think of new things and to remember that to be successful one has to be original and keep the quality good, but I must say that generally crafters have good quality and usually good prices,” says Sheila. “It is quite a large event, which my partner’s husband supports all the way, in fact he puts up with a lot if you take into the equation that his whole home is taken over for a whole week.”

When Sheila’s husband was alive he was also very supportive and helpful, but she notes that sometimes both husbands managed to go away on fishing trips for the Xmas by the Sea week!

The house used for the event overlooks Brighton Beach near the "Old Whaling Station " area. There is a deck from which customers can watch dolphins and whales and quite often see them cavorting in the waves.

Simple but tasty refreshments are always beautifully presented by Annamarie Landman. The number of crafters has reached as high as 85 which puts a bit of a strain on the space availability of the house.

”We ring the changes, and we have a cross-section of goods, from the sublime to the ridiculous, inexpensive to costly, hobbyists to flea marketers, and occasionally a commercial product that is not commonly available but has novelty qualities.

More information from Sheila Nichol on 031 466 1601 or 083 782 7810 or Zelda Martin on 031 466 6358. Xmas by the Sea takes place at 31 Finnemore Place at Brighton Beach.




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