“We didn’t see this coming at all,” says Blue Genie co-owner Dana Younger about the enduring appeal of the group’s annual bazaar. “I think one of our employees one year said ‘You know what? Y’all should do a Christmas show.’ And we said, ‘Oh, OK, we’ll do a Christmas show.’ And we put some things up, we invited some friends to put some things up, and we were shocked when things sold.”
After the surprising success of that first show, the folks at Blue Genie said, “’That was great. That was fun. We should do that again,’” Younger says.
That was 18 years ago, and the Blue Genie Art Bazaar has returned every year since, growing to include the works of a couple hundred area artists and craftspeople. Younger and his partners at Blue Genie have grown to see the annual sale as a kind of ongoing mission to provide artists with a way to reach customers during the busy holiday shopping season and to provide shoppers with a place to find locally produced arts and crafts.
“We sit at this confluence of art and commerce and community,” Younger says. “And all three of those things are so important to why we do this show.”
In keeping with its roots, the art bazaar still offers up plenty of paintings, prints, and pottery, but they’ve also expanded their scope over the years to include other handcrafted items, like soaps and packaged foods.
Alejandra Rodriguez, the owner of La Flaca Farms, is a more recent seller at Blue Genie – this season is only her second year at the bazaar. Being surrounded by the works of local artists at last year’s bazaar inspired Rodriguez to make her packaged goods a little artistically pleasing this time around. “We started thinking about doing Blue Genie this year [as soon as] we finished last year,” she says. “We’ve been planning [on] improving our stand, improving our packaging to really match all the beautiful products you see at the bazaar.”
For Younger, organizing the bazaar every year has meant that the Christmas season has become his busy time of year, and he doesn’t really clock out for the holidays until the bazaar shuts down on Christmas Eve. “Yeah, that’s pretty much when our holidays start, and it’s a huge relief,” he says. “It’s exciting to be able to support our artist community and know that they’re getting a boost… but it is a huge relief. You know, we work on this show year-round, so getting to that finish line and being able to relax for the holidays is really nice.”