Central Victorian towns entice Christmas shoppers

AS Christmas nears, central Victorian towns are coming up with inventive ways to entice people to shop in their towns.

More than a year of planning by Rosemary Crisp, Michelle Jeanes and Jacinta Martin came to fruition yesterday when Elmore hosted its first seasonal market, composed exclusively of home-made goods.

Further up the Northern Highway at Rochester, nearly 100 households and businesses are hosting simultaneous garage sales on Saturday, December 8.

Both events will draw people from all over Victoria to the towns, plus allow locals the flexibility of shopping in their own backyard.

“Normally when people from Elmore want to do some shopping, they have to go to Bendigo or Echuca,” Elmore Market organiser Michelle said.

“We tried to get a bit of everything so people can knock off the Christmas shopping in one go in their own town.

“It has created a lot of interest in the town. It’s a really unique sort of market.”

The whole-town garage sale idea is also unique to the region, with organiser Alan Darbyshire believing it is the first of its kind in Australia.

“It’s a great way to bring people into town,” he said. 

“We thought we’d get about 20 people involved but we’ve nearly got 100.”

Red balloons will be placed out the front of participating houses, acting as a beacon for keen treasure hunters. 

Maps will be handed out at front of newsagency and classified advertisements will be stuck up in Rochester’s shop windows with information on who is selling what where.

“It will be a busy day in Rochester,” Mr Darbyshire said. 

“If you can’t get what you want in 90-odd households, then you’re not looking properly.”

Interest in the Elmore Market has also exceeded organisers’ expectations. 

More than 40 stalls signed up for what the women hope will be the first of four markets a year in Elmore. 

Talented artists, designers and craftspeople from across Victoria house stalls filled with handmade clothing, bags, jewellery, cupcakes and Christmas baubles. 

Elmore identity Mary Doyle conducted a spinning wheel demonstration while dressed in old-fashioned clothes.

The money raised from a raffle and other fund-raising ventures will go to schools around the area and the Elmore Memorial Hall.

The market is the brainchild of Michelle, a proud work-at-home mum, whose house is filled with dessert-inspired candles, from cupcakes to ice-creams sundaes to fruit pies.

Michelle is hoping the seasonal markets will encourage central Victorians to put their talents to good use. “It is a platform that allows these people to sell and market their creations,” she said. 

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