The league displayed a photo from its archives to mark the chapter’s centennial. (Photos by Ariel Meriwether/Carolina News and Reporter)
This year’s the annual Junior League Holiday Market raised more than $200,000 for community causes this past weekend.
Thousands of people gathered at the four-day shopping event at South Carolina Fairgrounds.
“We’ve been coming for years,” said former Junior League member Laura Lively, who ran a jewelry stand there. “It’s a great market, and we love working with the Junior League. They do a lot of great things in the community.”
Each year the league brought the city of Columbia and more than 140 merchants under one roof for holiday shopping, a Ladies Night Out event and the annual Holiday Ball. Part of the event this year marked the Columbia chapter’s centennial as a service organization.
Holiday market co-chair Liz Coffee said the market is the league’s signature event of the year, allowing members to give back to the community.
Ladies Night Out, on opening night, featured music, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for women 21 and up.
“Ladies Night Out sells out within two hours, so as soon as tickets go on sale they are sold out,” she said.
The league caters to the vendors just as much as the shoppers. The organization receives food and drink donations from local restaurants and members and offer them to merchants in a hospitality suite.
“We serve them breakfast, lunch and dinner while they’re here at the market, and then we have snacks,” she said. “We have cart pushers that go down the aisle. We’ll help them even if they need to leave their booth and go to the restroom.”
That generosity brings vendors back year after year.
The mother of former USC basketball great A’ja Wilson co-owns Burnt Wax Candle Co. with her daughter. Eva Wilson decided to return to the market as a merchant after enjoying last year’s turnout.
“This is our second year being a vendor, and the first year was phenomenal,” Wilson said. “The customers were very excited that we were here. Of course, they recognize A’ja’s name, and it was good last year, so we decided to come back this year.”
Proceeds each year are donated to organizations that strengthen the health and well being of children in the Midlands.