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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Holiday show harvests businesses

WED. | 11-09-22 | NEWS

     The Down East Holiday Show is a fundraising event that is put on by Pitt Community College (PCC) to raise scholarship money for their students. The holiday show has been held for 21 years and took place at the Greenville Convention Center from Thursday, Nov. 3, to Sunday, Nov. 6. On Thursday, they hosted an adults-only night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and tickets were $15. Friday through Sunday, admission was open to anyone and tickets cost $10, with children under the age of 10 being admitted for free. All of the proceeds gained from admissions went straight to scholarships. 

     Jennifer Vogt is the special events coordinator for PCC and was in charge of planning and organizing the Down East Holiday Show this year. 

     "There [were] 180 vendors this year, and they sold everything from clothes to jewelry, baked goods, wine, dog treats and toys; there [was] just a huge variety of items that [were] being sold that weekend," Vogt said. "We also [had] food trucks out front each day, and Santa Claus [was] there so you could take your picture with him." 

     Vendors and local businesses from Eastern North Carolina were set up throughout the entire convention center.


Photo by Averi Simpson 

     "Vendors that have been there before get the first choice to sign up again, and then after that, we open up sign-ups to any new vendors that are interested," Vogt said. "We looked back on our vendors this year and found that some of them that [were] there this year have been with us every year since 2004."

     Not only does this event benefit students at PCC with scholarship money, but it also benefits our local businesses. 

     "A lot of our vendors don't have storefronts, most of them sell through Etsy or Facebook, so this definitely helps get their name out there," Vogt said. "It's just a good way for the community to come out and show their support to our local businesses.”

     Vogt said one of their bakery vendors from last year, Open House Bakery, grew enough that they were actually able to open up a storefront back in August. 

     Open House Bakery is owned by two sisters, Kia Hewett and Kimberly Hanger. 

     "We baked cakes and cupcakes for years and would sell them to our friends and family,” Hewett said. “Then, last summer, we decided we wanted to bake fancy decorated sugar cookies and sell them.”

     Hewett and Hanger decided that if this was something they seriously wanted to do, they would try to get a booth at the Down East Holiday Show to help get their name out to the public. 

     "We thought it would be really cool to have a booth because it could kind of be like our ‘coming out party’ to Greenville to let people know that we were here," Hewett said. 

     Hewett expressed how fortunate they were because it is often difficult and there is usually a wait. 

     "We baked hundreds of cookies for the event last year and it went extremely well," Hewett said. "We came out of that event and I said ‘holy cow’ this might be something we can actually do."

     After the show, Hewett and Hanger began receiving a lot of orders and they decided this may be something they wanted to do full-time.

     "I remember I jokingly told my husband on New Year's Eve that this is the year I'd like to quit my job and bake full time," Hewett said. "He laughed at me and said ‘ok’ let me know how that works out for you."

     The space they are currently in became available two months later and they ended up getting the building and then officially opened on Friday, Aug. 16. 

     The Down East Holiday Show has Impacted this business in many significant ways.

     "We were able to get our name out to so many people who have never heard of us before," Hewett said. "It was also really cool for people to walk up and see a table full of cookies and we were able to say yes, we made those." 

     By participating in the show, Open House Bakery was able to connect and collaborate with other local businesses to help each other grow. 

     "The booth right beside ours was Barrow's Pecans and we got to know them very well and we actually ended up buying some of their pecans and adding them into some of our baked goods," Hewett said. “Then we were able to tell our customers that we used their pecans and they were able to say to theirs that their pecans were used in our products." 

     Open House Bakery was back at the Down East Holiday show this year, where they continued to promote their business by reaching out to new customers.

     Hewett wanted to emphasize that Pitt Community College has greatly supported them throughout their entire journey. 

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