The Army Bazaar: A "Three-Day Multinational Extravaganza"
Courtesy Story from U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – The upcoming U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Holiday Bazaar will be the largest Army Bazaar in Europe with 125 vendors and sponsors from all over the world, Nov. 2 – 4.
European bazaars were first introduced to the community as fundraisers in the 1960s. At that time, there were three different bazaars managed by military spouses – Kaiserslautern, Landstuhl and Ramstein. However, in 1997, there were no leading Army spouse groups who could devote their time to run the bazaars, and as a result, Army bazaars ceased to exist.
In 1999, Gudrun Schuler-Heilman, former Family and MWR chief of financial management, decided to take on the challenge of reestablishing garrison bazaars. The first Family and MWR bazaar took place at the Kaiserslautern Community Activity Center on Daenner Kaserne in 1999. In 2001, the bazaar was moved to the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Special Events Center. Since then, the event has grown every year and has become one of the most popular events for the military community. Today, there are a total of five bazaars throughout the year organized by Family and MWR – Holiday Bazaar (ROB), Last Minute Mini Bazaar (Heaton Auditorium, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center), Spring Bazaar (ROB), Mother’s Day Bazaar (Heaton Auditorium) and Summer Bazaar (ROB).
This will be the largest bazaar since its reestablishment in 1997 and takes place Nov. 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Bldgs. 237 and 229, on Rhine Ordnance Barracks.
“From the beginning, the main goal behind offering these major events was and still is to continue to ensure that monetary support is available to reinvest Soldier dollars back into the community,” Janna Henderson, chief of Non-Appropriated Funds Support (Family and MWR) explained. “This, in turn, provides resources for employment, childcare, recreation, entertainment and facility improvements by creating a home away from home atmosphere for our Soldiers and their families.”
In fiscal 2018, USAG RP Family and MWR generated over $385,000 in sales. Proceeds benefitted many youth and community programs. Among other things, Family and MWR was able to finance the renovation of Baumholder’s Rheinlander Convention Center ballroom to include new furnishings for community events, as well as purchasing family-oriented outdoor recreation equipment, such as mountain bikes, pop-up canopies, skis, boots and fest tables. Furthermore, automotive skills centers were able to purchase additional equipment for self-service sections and add a new annex to provide more customer-mentoring capabilities. Java Cafés received new blenders and espresso machines to meet increased customer demand, and on Pulaski Barracks, Kazabra Club replaced its ballroom furnishings and installed a new wood floor to support community-wide events.
This year, Family and MWR will open a second warehouse to bring an additional 30 new vendors, Henderson said. Vendors from around the globe will bring a variety of merchandise to include pottery, ceramics, jewelry, country-specific delicacies, alcoholic beverages, furniture, Christmas decorations and much more. Along with an exclusive selection of European merchandise, the bazaar also offers a broad variety of meal options, including food from all over the world.
Holiday Bazaar vendors will also contribute to the excitement of the event by dressing up in traditional clothing representing their countries.
“We purchased over 100 flags to hang over each stand, so our customers can easily identify the origin of the items offered for purchase,” Henderson added.
Also, there will be various attractions at the bazaar to make it a special experience for the whole family and add to the holiday spirit. The event offers a Santa’s Booth, allowing visitors to dress up and take pictures with Santa or the Grinch free of charge. In addition, there will be giveaways offering t-shirts, chocolates and a variety of items from sponsors to include round-trip airfare to the U.S. and overnight accommodations for two at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Besides that, Family and MWR is working with the Directorate of Human Resources to set up a box packing booth next to the self-service gift wrapping station, so customers can pack items in flat-rate shipping boxes to mail at their own convenience. In addition, Henderson explained that almost all of the furniture vendors deliver their bigger items right after the bazaar. In cases where no delivery option is available, customers can request delivery at the main cashier stand.
In order to make this three-day multinational extravaganza happen, Family and MWR is in need of volunteers.
“Since the organization does not have designated positions to run the bazaar, all employees that work in support of the event are doing so in addition to their normal duties,” Henderson explained. “If you want to become a volunteer, contact Heather Miles, Army Community Service, at [email protected] and request a volunteer form,” she added. Volunteers will receive a t-shirt, a $15 Family and MWR gift card for each day of service or a $50 gift card for three consecutive days of service.
Besides the great reward program Family and MWR offers, volunteering for an event like this provides the opportunity to meet new friends, be part of the community and get to know the Family and MWR organization for future career opportunities. Another way to participate is to become a sponsor. For further information on the process, interested individuals or companies can contact Jackie Colindres, Family and MWR Sponsorship and Advertising Sales manager at [email protected]
In addition to volunteer assistance, Family and MWR is always looking for new vendors to enhance the range of products offered at the bazaars. In order to become a vendor, interested sellers can send a request to [email protected] Family and MWR will ask for a valid business license, business liability, a price listing in U.S. dollars and their Data Universal Numbering System designator. After reviewing the information, a five-year contract will be issued that can be used for all Army bazaars in Europe.
The upcoming Family and MWR Holiday Bazaar is a great event for everyone looking for unique presents for their loved ones or wanting to experience different cultures within an extraordinary setting. In line with the holiday spirit, it provides the opportunity to give back to the community. No matter if you are participating as a volunteer or just enjoying the day with your family, USAG RP Family and MWR is looking forward to seeing you at the Holiday Bazaar!