Holiday Mart rings in the season with one-of-a-kind gifts

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 14, 2015

 Courtney Design sells unique jewelry.

Courtney Design sells unique jewelry.

Photo provided by Grosse Pointe Holiday Mart


GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The calendar shows that it’s not Halloween yet, but shoppers will have a chance to check off their holiday gift lists this weekend and spend the rest of the season relaxing instead of stressing out.

The 57th annual Grosse Pointe Holiday Mart runs 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 16-17 at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Shoppers will find more than two dozen vendors from across the area and around the country offering specialty foods, clothing and accessories, home décor and more, said Robin Heller, of Grosse Pointe Farms, who’s co-chairing this year’s event with Gina Baubie Whitney.

A fundraiser for the prenatal care and cancer prevention programs offered by Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, Holiday Mart kicks off with the Patron Preview Cocktail Party from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 15, where attendees can purchase items before the event opens to the general public while enjoying beverages and entertainment. Honorary chairs for the preview party are Cynthia and Edsel Ford, and tickets cost $85. Admission to just Holiday Mart costs $5 at the door Friday and Saturday.

“We like to have a few Detroit area-based stores,” as well as shops from across the country, Heller said.

To that end, one of this year’s newcomers is Detroit-based Good People Popcorn, which offers traditional popcorn and toppings, as well as less-standard flavors like chili cheese and cinnamon crunch, Heller said.

“They do have really interesting flavors,” she said.

Another new vendor based in Detroit is Mutual Adoration.

“They take reclaimed materials and make picture frames and furniture out of them,” Heller said.

Another newcomer, the Velvet Road, offers embroidered shoes. The fair trade vendor Buy the Change will be back, along with a new fair trade vendor, Tsonga USA, which Heller said sells casual women’s footwear, accessories, scarves, small leather goods and more made in South Africa.

If you don’t want to smell like a magazine perfume sample, the husband-and-wife team of Detroit-based Sfumato will be bringing an assortment of their crafted scents.

“They have great olfactory senses,” Heller said. “They have different kinds (of perfumes) that appeal to men and women.”

Besides new vendors, Heller said there are a number of “returning favorites,” including Botanical Elegance, Great Lakes Tea and Spice, and Slow Jams. Other returning favorites include El-Mar Furs and Lee Allison Company, which offers ties, bow ties and cummerbunds for men, who can also order custom suits and shirts from the firm.

Bellaboxes, based in Troy, is back after several years away, and Heller said shoppers can purchase “beautiful (photo) albums and storage boxes and portfolios” from them. My Charmed Life, out of Chicago, markets “all kinds of charms that cover a wide variety of subject matter,” and they’ll even add new charms to an existing bracelet if shoppers bring theirs in, she said.

Heller said shoppers will find a broad range of price points, from items that are around $5 to those that are in the thousands, such as real furs and fine jewelry.

Desiree Cooper, director of community and media relations for Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, said some people have misconceptions about Planned Parenthood. For example, abortions — which are not supported by Holiday Mart funds — account for only a small percentage of their services; she said the majority of Planned Parenthood’s services — 97 percent — are for cancer screenings and other female health care needs.

“I think people often don’t think of us as that full-service OB-GYN care (facility),” she said.

The Planned Parenthood in Detroit’s Midtown offers certified nurse midwives through Hutzel Hospital, Heller said.

“It really is about women’s health care,” she said. “We’re pretty pleased to be able to support that.”

Cooper said Planned Parenthood also offers a sliding scale for many services, depending on a patient’s income, and they accept “almost all insurances.”

“We fill a very important gap in health services in the United States,” Cooper said. “So many providers do not (accept) Medicaid, and so many others (who do) are overwhelmed (by the number of patients seeking their services).”

Heller, a longtime Holiday Mart volunteer who has co-chaired this event many times in the past, said Holiday Mart organizers have never wavered in their commitment to Planned Parenthood.

“On a personal note, I am very confident in Planned Parenthood and their services,” Heller said. “I think they are very reputable and very necessary.”

“We appreciate people who are willing to stand up for what they know is quality preventative care for women, and certainly Holiday Mart has been the standard bearer,” Cooper said. “We’re so grateful (for their support).”

About 500 to 1,000 people typically attend Holiday Mart during the weekend, and Heller said roughly 250 come to the preview party. The event has raised nearly $1 million for Planned Parenthood over the years, not adjusted for inflation, she said.

“It’s a unique and fun shopping experience, and it supports a wonderful cause,” Heller said. “You won’t find this combination of these stores anywhere else.”

The War Memorial sells food and beverages from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on shopping days, Heller said. Café sales don’t benefit Planned Parenthood, but they do give shoppers a chance to refuel and spend the day, she said.

While shoppers might be able to order items from some of the vendors online, Heller said others don’t sell their wares that way. There are also advantages to being able to talk to the vendors in person and see the merchandise.

“To be able to actually hold it and feel it and get a sense of (an item’s quality)” is invaluable, Heller said.

“It’s much easier to browse in person,” she added.

The War Memorial is located at 32 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Farms. For more information, visit