Bratz Biz offers holiday fun in a new location

Annual kids holiday craft fair takes place on Saturday (Nov. 26) at the Westin

Holiday shoppers, clear your schedules. Bratz Biz is branching out this year with not only well-crafted goodies for sale, but a wide variety of kids’ entertainment too.

“Come for the day,” said co-organizer Susan Rowlands Shrimpton. “We’ve got so much going on. The primary focus is what the vendors are selling, but it’s really a full day of activities.”

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The annual craft fair — which features a variety of items made by kids — is marking its 11th year by moving over to the Westin Resort & Spa on Nov. 26 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For the last several years, its been running in the Whistler Conference Centre alongside Bizarre Bazaar (re-named the Whistler Holiday Market this year), but for 2016 it will be taking over the hotel’s Emerald Ballroom.

To that end, it will be packed with music by acts like Susan Holden and Chicks with Picks, a station for making Christmas ornaments, face painting and balloon artist Matthew Johnson. The big guy himself will also make an appearance. “Coast Mountain will be doing Santa photos and everyone will receive a complimentary print,” Rowlands Shrimpton said.

In total, around 24 businesses run by young entrepreneurs will have booths this year. Their products run the gamut from coat racks made of reclaimed barn wood to jewelry and candleholders.  

For the first time, vendors will include young entrepreneurs from Vancouver. “Half are return vendors and half are new,” Rowlands Shrimpton said. “We have more kids from the city this year, which is really interesting. We were expanding our reach and one of our new volunteers is also from the city, so, after 11 years, we’re getting the word out beyond Whistler.”

For those new to Bratz Biz: you won’t find typical kiddie crafts. Vendors might be young, but their goods are well crafted and unique. “I think people expect popsicle sticks and popcorn and they’re getting really high-end gifts,” Rowlands Shrimpton said. “People will be mind-blown.”

Some Bratz Biz alumni have even gone on to put their nascent business chops to use in the real world. Local Stephanie Denroche, for example, who started out as a vendor at the event and has since used the skills she’s learned to sell her upcycled jewelry — made from bike parts — at Cross Country Connection and in Vancouver.

“We did a workshop with (the vendors) on Sunday. We had them all in and had a sales presentation and talked about different sales techniques,” Rowlands Shrimpton said. “The young ones are coming in like deer in the headlights. It’s a lot. They really look to the older kids for mentorship and for motivation.”

While running the event has been fulfilling, both Rowlands Shrimpton and co-organizer Carmen Laslett are preparing to hand over the reins next year. “We are putting together a new team for next year,” Rowlands Shrimpton said. “If there’s anyone interested in joining the Bratz Biz team, they should contact us… I always like to thank the community and the sponsors. We could never have done what we’ve done over the last 11 years without the sponsors.”

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