GREENFIELD — It’s been a holiday season without the usual church bazaars — with at least one exception: the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew, which launched its first online Mistletoe Mart. In its unique way, it was a success, according to the Rev. Dr. Molly Scherm, associate rector, and member Diane Kurkulonis.
The online store was created using the web-based platform known as Square (square up.com).
“We had a small inventory of 174 items,” Kurkulonis said, “and we sold close to 77 percent of our inventory, which is kind of unheard of on a first-time basis. So we were very pleased. We sold out of quite a few of our categories, like the tote bags and the stained glass, the apple pies.”
The rope bowls also sold out, with at least 15 to start, as was the case for tote bags, of which there were roughly 20, Kurkulonis said.
“We also got a few donations, and that helped,” she added.
All of the craft items were made by members of St. Andrew’s Guild.
“As far as the craft sale,” Scherm said, “we made a whole lot more. We made $1,000 from that booth in the fair last year, and the online Mistletoe Mart was primarily craft products and we made $3,300 or $3,400.”
The other side of the coin is what didn’t happen online.
“It’s a little bit of apples and oranges,” Scherm said, in comparing last year with this year.
“The profits are across all the different things that we couldn’t do,” Kurkulonis explained, “like, we couldn’t have our cookie walk and we couldn’t have our cafe, which was a big, big money-raiser. For food, we only had the apple pies and the peanut brittle, so that was less. So, all in all, the total was less because we had less to sell, as a fair. But percentage-wise, we did better.”
Other traditional Mistletoe Mart departments are the outside vendors, who pay for their space, and the popular gift basket raffle.
Advertising drives sales
Kurkulonis used Facebook and the Greenfield Recorder to inform shoppers of Mistletoe Mart’s online store.
“I created an event saying what we were doing, explaining it, and I sent that out to everyone that has ‘liked’ our Saints James and Andrew page. From there, you can do what they call ‘boost your event’ and for a dollar amount — we paid $50 — we had Facebook send out our event to the Franklin County area that I chose. I think it was a 50-mile radius of Greenfield.
“The reason for doing that and keeping it in Franklin County is we wanted to make it easy for people to pick up,” Kurkulonis said. “We didn’t want to do a lot of shipping, and we didn’t. We only shipped to three people.”
She continued to be proactive about advertising, sending out reminders on Facebook. Roughly 2,000 viewed the Facebook event page.
The newspaper ad was helpful to connect to people who are less active online, Kurkulonis noted. Scherm said, “I was out walking after that article came out and several people said, ‘Oh, I saw what your church is doing.’”
Both said the lack of competition probably helped.
“There weren’t in-person holiday fairs to go to,” Scherm said, “and so better to at least be able to go online and do some shopping than nothing at all.”
“We were the only game in town,” Kurkulonis agreed.
‘It was fun’
Scherm said she enjoyed working to figure out an online format for the Mistletoe Mart.
“It’s always fun making things,” she said. “It’s always fun feeling like people want to buy something and that they will enjoy it.”
In fact, Kurkulonis said the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew is considering doing another online craft fundraiser in the spring.
“Last winter, before the coronavirus, we had been thinking about doing a craft sale just at coffee hour in the parish, and we had made a bunch of summer sunhats and I had made a number of tote bags that were more summery-looking fabrics,” Kurkulonis said. “So if we do one in the spring, it might be geared to things that people want for the warm weather.”