UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

The Nutcracker Market: Shopper’s paradise, seller’s delight

Frank Lemus

The Signal Staff

Dogs are a man’s best friend, and this year’s Nutcracker Market used that very theme to welcome the coming holiday season. Every year, for the past 29 years, the Houston Ballet has put on the Nutcracker Market to raise funds for their endeavors.

Gaylon Gullquist, market chairman of the 2009 Nutcracker Market, originated the idea for this year’s dog theme, calling it “Puttin’ on the Dog,” and was inspired when she discovered the artistry of Jim Tweedy, a Louisiana-based artist.

More than 300 national and international merchants participated in the four-day event, which last year alone brought in more than $2.5 million and 74,000 shoppers. This is truly a shopper’s paradise, as vendors offer a whole array of different items ranging from kid’s tents to frogs with slotted backs that make realistic frog noises when a stick is rubbed against them.

Thousands of shoppers walked and purchased items from the more than 300 vendors on site.
Thousands of shoppers walked and purchased items from the more than 300 vendors on site.

It was easy to fall into the holiday spirit with this event given the fact that so many gift-bound items were placed inside the Reliant Center building from Nov. 12 to Nov. 15. Gullquist said this was a good “kick-off to the holidays.”

“Oh, it’s wonderful,” said Judy Fanning, a market shopper. “[It] kicks off Christmas.”

She bought a lot of jewelry from the many jewelry vendors on site.

“I spent $150 on three shirts and $80 in food,” said Misty Howell, another shopper.

Proceeds from ticket sales and a portion of all vendor sales go to the Houston Ballet. There is also a market raffle that gives away four gifts to raffle winners.

Mercedes Meier, owner of Mommy Made It For Me, created a miniature dog play tent built to scale from the regular child play tents she makes, and donated it to the market raffle. Meier said that during low economic times the fine arts suffer financially and, therefore, she vfound donating her tents rewarding.

“This is my area of talent, creating play tents for children,” Meier said. “Anything we can do to help preserve a national ballet company, we’re more than happy to do.”

The Nutcracker Market was founded by Houston Ballet supporter, Preston Frazier, 29 years ago. This holiday market was modeled after the European street markets. It has gained a lot of popularity over the years and now has people from all around the country attending.

Indian statues made of wood from the Rocking Horse Depot vendor.
Indian statues made of wood from the Rocking Horse Depot vendor.

Vendors carefully select which items they would like to bring including: home décor, apparel, accessories, jewelry, children’s toys and gourmet food. For the past 28 years, the Nutcracker Market has secured more than $26 million through ticket and product sales.

Fine arts are a part of humanity that truly separate mankind from other species; the Nutcracker Market is one fund raiser that has found common ground between keeping the arts alive and holiday shopping by providing entertainment with a friendly atmosphere.