On Saturday, Nov. 17, First Christian Church of Tacoma (602 N. Orchard St.) will be buzzing with activity during “Celebrating and Giving Thanks to our Veterans,” 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This fall bazaar features more than 40 vendors selling a wide variety of merchandise, among other fun things planned for the day.
Presented by B&G Sponsored Events, Gail and Bill Rocheleau are the masterminds behind the bazaar. Having launched B&G Sponsored Events nearly 10 years ago, the couple has organized this fall veterans bazaar every November since. There will be lots of arts and crafts for sale, Native American beadwork, Mary Kay, LuLaRoe and Scentsy, embroidery, books, jewelry, keepsakes, cosmetics, housewares and kitchen gadgets, foods, home décor…the list goes on. There will be giveaways for adults and children, a “Children’s Corner” with activities and games to keep little ones occupied while parents shop (no babysitting, though), and veterans will receive a necklace in the shape of the U.S. flag or United States while supplies last.
In honor of our veterans, a “Missing Man Table,” also known as the “Fallen Comrade Table,” will be set up as a place of honor in memory of fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service members. A short memorial service will be given at 9:30 a.m. paying honor and respect to all veterans.
A representative from New York Life insurance will be at the bazaar making laminated I.D. cards for children and seniors while-you-wait to keep in a wallet, pocket or purse so that youth and those who may not have a driver license will have something that gives their pertinent information. (Gail Rocheleau suggests putting it in your freezer because if the house burns down, the freezer is the one place the fire won’t get to.)
Any veteran who comes to the bazaar in full uniform will receive a free raffle ticket. And if your uniform no longer fits, no problem – a military I.D. will do. Last year, an elder veteran was the lucky winner of $100. “He only had that one raffle ticket and that was the winner,” Bill Rocheleau said with a big smile. Raffle prizes come from vendors that donate and Gail and Bill collect special items throughout the year at yard sales and local dollar stores. Every visitor to the bazaar will be invited to pick up a passport to have stamped at the various vendors tables and bring back to the registration table for a free raffle ticket.
To advertise the bazaar, right now there are little colorful stuffed bears hidden around town and anyone who finds one can bring it to the registration table and get a free raffle ticket, choose a prize from the prize table, or you can also keep the bear if you like.
At every B&G event, afterward the Rocheleaus present donations to either the Tacoma Centennial Lions Club, food banks or homeless service providers and they provide a free booth to the Tacoma Centennial Lions Club to help support the work of these fine people. “We are (Lions Club) members, but we would do it even if we weren’t,” Bill said.
This is the type of people The Rocheleaus are – a delightful, friendly and giving couple – and it’s plain to see that they put in a lot of effort with B&G Sponsored Events not to make profits, but to serve communities.
“The main reason we do this is that it’s a fun hobby,” Bill said. “I would rather have a heart attack and die going this than to sit on a couch waiting for it to happen. I want to do something I love and I love doing this.”
Gail and Bill make it very easy for vendors such that they help vendors have a table even if the seller is short on the already affordable cost, especially for those vendors that are service oriented. Vendor packets even come with puzzle books to work on in between customers. The couple gives vendors pointers on how to effectively display their merchandise and offer advice like to not look down at their cellphone but rather hold it up so that it’s easier for customers to engage with them without feeling like they’re disturbing the vendor. Gail also reminds vendors to not accept $100 bills, as phony bills have come through past events.
“We do our best to treat our vendors like family,” as Bill put it.
B&G Sponsored Events also partners with the Keeba Agency in Puyallup, an online advertising agency that does podcasts at B&G Sponsored Events, speaking with vendors who want to talk about what they do and help bring them attention on social media.
Keep an eye on www.bngsponsoredevents.com and look them up on Facebook to stay informed on the other exciting events. Next up is their 10th annual Holiday Bazaar, also at First Christian Church of Tacoma, a celebration of B&G’s 10th year of hosting bazaars with fun, shopping, surprises and, yes, Santa.
To get more information on vending, email Gail at email@example.com or call (253) 831-7894.