Buy Michigan. Shop local. Support your local businesses. How many times have we heard those phrases lately? Well, one local school is taking action in that direction.
Forest Elementary School in Farmington Hills is hosting its second annual vendor fair for local businesses on Nov. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. The fair provides a venue for local businesses to showcase their products and services to parents, teachers and the general public, while at the same time raising money for Forest. There’s no entry fee for people to visit to the fair, and it’s open to everyone – not just those affiliated with Forest.
Since strengthening local businesses in turn helps strengthen local schools, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved, said Melissa Rakolta, a Forest parent of three children who had the idea for the event and coordinates it annually.
“I really want people to come out and support small local businesses,” Rakolta said. “It’s really important for us to support each other. As a vendor myself, we all need exposure and an opportunity to grow our business.”
Last year, the Forest vendor fair featured 60 vendors, including local crafters, massage therapists, photographers, a dog trainer, dentists and orthodontists and other product- and service-oriented small businesses. This year, Rakolta is honing in a small group of 40 or so vendors and focusing more on products.
So far, Rakolta’s Thirty-One Gifts business is a vendor, as well as Tupperware, a couple jewelry makers, Pampered Chef, Bling & Things, a catering company and others. Rakolta said that, while this fair is more focused on gifts for the holidays and other products, she would love to add some service-based businesses to the mix.
The vendors who participated last year found the event to be successful, Rakolta said. “I did hear this was a great event and there were lots of visitors.” One vendor, she said, called the fair “one of the best” – a comment that told Rakolta her hard work in putting it together really paid off.
Vendors can exhibit for $30, which includes a six-foot table, or they can pay only $25 if they bring their own table. Rack space for hanging clothes and other products costs another $10.
The fair is being held during parent-teacher conferences, so there will already be parents in the building, Rakolta said. They just need to come over to the gym, where vendor tables will be ready for their perusal. There will also be pizza, pop and possibly other food items available for purchase.
What’s more, attendees can purchase raffle tickets to win several prizes donated by vendors. Each local vendor will raffle off one item, Rakolta said.
Last year’s fair was held in March and raised some $2,000 for Forest Elementary School. Forest is the only local school that’s hosting a local vendor fair. It provides a unique opportunity for parents, schools and local businesses to come together, Rakolta said.
Forest Elementary School is located at 34545 Old Timber in Farmington Hills. To be a vendor at the fair, contact Melissa Rakolta at firstname.lastname@example.org. No registration or fee is required to attend the fair as a shopper.