Christmas season arrived early in Forest City on Nov. 6-7 with a holiday crafts and vendor show in the former Bomgaars store location at 305 Highway 69.
The parking lot was full with parked cars running past it for blocks as many holiday shoppers got a head start by visiting up to 60 different vendors, according to event organizer and Forest City Chamber of Commerce member Toby Welsh. Jared Wingert’s Mojo Productions provided live music throughout the holiday kickoff event.
“A primary purpose of this is shopping local and supporting small businesses,” Welsh said. “A lot of this is homemade things that people make. There is a lady here that makes bar soap from scratch in her home. I bought three bars from her, including beer and coffee soap.”
Natural Serenity is the startup homemade soap-making business that has been in the works for a long while, according to owner and operator Jessica Koeprick. She runs the business out of her Northwood kitchen along with her daughter, Irelynn Bork, who accompanied her at the two-day fair.
“She loves to pick out the scents and colors and helps stir them when we make a batch,” Koeprick said. “We have a big tub that probably holds about five pounds. It is poured into bar molds and has to sit (cure) for a time.”
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She has a handful of standard molds and some specialty molds, including shapes for dragons, dinosaurs, and unicorns, among others. She noted that the homemade soaps are all natural, except the necessary lye cleaning ingredient, which is substantially transformed and removed during the “soapification” process when many different natural skin butters and oils are added.
“The batter has to be just right and can’t be too thick,” she said. “It really is an art, which is why I’ve researched it forever. But we’re just starting on vendor shows and have been actually doing this for a couple of months now.”
Numerous vendors said that they bulk order necessary supplies well in advance because of the nature of their business. This helps circumvent some current supply-chain concerns. One such business is Ready 2 Tumble, owned and operated by Brenda Brownell of Garner, who was showing custom-made tumbler options for the perfect holiday gift for that hard-to-shop for person.
Brenda has been in business a little over a year and was sharing vendor space with her husband, Tony Brownell, whose alarm business (Alerts That Work Inc.) has been going a bit longer, providing a wide assortment of home safety devices including fire alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security systems, and freeze sensors.
The couple noted that Ready 2 Tumble started with drink tumblers that are individually customized. Brenda makes the cups live (upon request) on Facebook live. She also makes ornaments, pens, keychains and, soon, signs, T-shirts, and all sorts of custom apparel. On display was a white holiday tree decorated entirely with her homemade decorations.
“I like to do this because it gets all the vendors together too,” Welsh said. “Many of these vendors buy or place order with other vendors too. A benefit right now is that many stores are out of things that you can’t get right away. Many people will also continue to support these businesses.”
Janey and James Burick of Mason …….