Vendors at New Market's annual event affected by sour economy
By Preston Knight -- firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- Survival for the town's Heritage Days hinges on good weather, can't-miss food and -- new this year -- bracelets.
Natalie Shifflett, 14, made the short trip from Shenandoah to sell her "survival" bracelets as she begins a venture as an entrepreneur. Made of military-style cord, the merchandise holds 550 pounds per foot and has multiple uses designed for hikers and hunters. Shifflett, inspired to go into business through her FFA participation, has had her bracelets in one Luray store since this summer.
"She's doing pretty well [overall]," said her father, Danny Shifflett.
On Saturday afternoon,-- the first leg of the two-day New Market Area Chamber of Commerce event -- the teen said she was hoping for more business in town. So far, she had earned much less than what she had at other festivals -- only $60.
"I spent like $12 on food," she said.
Despite cooperative weather, some vendors reported slow-goings. But, the glass was half full -- many times on two-day events, people will come back on the second day to purchase something they saw the day before, said Vivian Malone, who was selling mums.
"I'm just glad it's not raining," she said, adding that she came down with pneumonia at a recent event.
"It's not too bad, for the crowd," she said.
Malone came from Wardensville, W.Va., where she has a garden center. To survive in the down economy, she has not turned to bracelets, but to cutting prices.
Malone said people's priorities in economic times like these don't always include gardening.
"I don't blame people," she said. "Food comes before -- and gas comes before -- flowers."
A line of vendors on a renovated street -- New Market has made numerous grant-funded improvements to Congress Street, with more on the way -- can put the economy out of people's minds, though. Visitors get to see and, hopefully, buy rare products, such as hand-painted ironing boards that Tammy Nauman, of Luray, was selling.
Nauman was a member of three families who brought a variety of crafts and home decor to sell.
"We have a lot of lookers," Nauman said, "but not very many buyers."
The opportunity to meet different people, though, makes coming to festivals fun, she said. Tack on weather, food and -- as word spreads -- bracelets. That's how Heritage Days gets by.