A group of women that prepares year-round for the holiday season is in its last weeks of crafting and pricing items to sell at the 28th Annual Holiday Bazaar at the DuPage County Historical Museum.
The Museum Guild, a group of around 10 women who enjoy crafting and the company of fellow guild members began planning for the 2011 bazaar in February. They’ve met throughout the year to create more than 200 Christmas ornaments that they’ll sell for $1 to $4.
While the quality of the items sold at the bazaar is good enough to be sold in a store, Museum Guild Chairperson Mary Udelhofen said, "we try to keep the prices low."
"We know how much time things take but we don't charge for our time, or we wouldn't have any customers," Udelhofen said.
"We like to do this stuff," she said.
The proceeds of the bazaar are used for the needs of the museum and its two-person staff, said Udelhofen. Since the first holiday bazaar in 1984, the guild has raised $44,000, which has been used for museum repairs, office equipment, display items and fixtures and fundraising efforts.
Recently, the guild has given money to support the museum's effort to restore a Civil War flag that now hangs in the museum, pay for exhibit design and electronics such as a sound system and a scanner, according to Udelhofen.
“Last year we made a little over $1,500 and that was the most we’d made in a few years, so that was encouraging,” Udelhofen said. “We never know when they’re (museum) going to need money. … So that’s why we’re here, as a support system.”
She added that in their efforts to support the museum, the guild has become a close-knit group.
"We didn’t know each other when we started coming here, and this is like another part of our family," she said.
The bazaar began after a museum volunteer had the idea to craft items to sell in a museum gift shop, which fell by the wayside as the guild learned of the legal complications they'd face with a gift shop, Udelhofen said.
Since its origin, the guild has seen the museum undergo changes in its staff and management in its 28 years. In the early- to mid-2000s, when the county didn’t want to fund the museum in full, Udelhofen said, “The place was in limbo for awhile. …We thought it was going to get shuttered.
"We hope it can continue on this basis, even without its accreditation (from the American Association of Museums)," she said. "It still is a museum, and they come up with some programs and people still come here.”
Guild member Roberta Goehmann added, “We all have the museum in common … We all want to make sure it keeps going, and enjoy it.”
Guild member Louise Coutre joked that she’s suggested the ladies pay to go to the museum and meet as a guild. “We have so much fun. This is my entertainment. It’s a great group of ladies,” she said.
“I love it.”
The guild will sell around 200 handmade Christmas ornaments, priced between $1 and $4, and other crafted items including cards and quilted gifts. The bazaar will also have a “granny’s attic” resale section, with merchandise left over from previous sales and donated items.
The bazaar will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 at the DuPage County Historical Museum, 102 Wesley Street, Wheaton.