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Early shoppers: Christmas sales event raises United Way funds

By Ken Stickney

ken.stickney@panews.com

It’s not visions of sugarplums that are motivating Janie Johnson and the United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County this weekend. It’s visions of early Christmas shoppers.

The United Way is hosting Mistletoe Market this weekend, starting with the Power of the Purse on Friday night. Johnson, United Way’s CEO, said the ticketed ladies night out event will open the three-day market from 5-8 p.m. Friday at the Bob Bowers Civic Center off Highway 73.

It’s the first of three ticketed Mistletoe Market shopping opportunities. Others come from 10-5 Saturday and 12:30-4 p.m. Sunday.

Johnson said the event will include 53 vendors, some local and many from out of state. Most will operate in 10-by-10 booth spaces.

She said United Way hopes for 3,000 to 4,000 shoppers with some $30,000 profit for the agency, which helps fund 22 member agencies. It recently launched its 2018-19 fund-raising campaign.

The event provides the first Christmas shopping chances in the area, she said, and by scheduling in the first week of October, she said vendors will work their way here after opening the Christmas shopping season in Lafayette, Louisiana last week.

Volunteers will include the Lamar State College Port Arthur Seahawks softball team.

“You can find just about anything here,” Johnson said, including clothing, jewelry, housewares, knives and more.

She said vendors at the first show in 2016 — the 2017 show was canceled due to Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey — reported record sales in Port Arthur.

Veronica Pagel, who owns the mobile boutique “A Little Junk in my Trunk,” said she’s planning on a big weekend of sales.

She said she attends some 30 shows a year, all in Texas and few more than two hours from her home in The Woodlands. Her goods include items bought at market and some she crafts herself.

She was proud of a big seller, the “Mer-Deer,” part mermaid, part deer, which she said buyers use to decorate girls’ rooms or even “she caves.”

Among other goods, she sells dream catchers, jewelry, clothing and more.

Friday night’s event includes hor d’oeuvres, a designer purse auction and more.

Tickets are sold at the door and include weekend passes.