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First Baptists annual emporium benefits horse therapy ranch
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Karen Embry looks for earrings during the ninth annual Emporium at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville. The beneficiary of this year's event is Whispering Angels Youth Ranch. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Ninth annual Emporium

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24

Where: First Baptist Church’s banquet hall, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville

Cost: $5, children 16 and younger free

More info:

Women shopping for and selling a variety of items, including clothing, accessories, home decor and Christmas gifts, filled First Baptist Church in Gainesville on Friday.

The ninth annual Emporium continues Saturday and is held by the church’s Women’s Ministry as an outreach program each year.

Attendees were ready and waiting in line at First Baptist first thing Friday morning while vendors put the finishing touches on their booths.

“We have more than 60 vendors,” said vendor coordinator Amy Lawson. “We have 70-something spaces, but some of the vendors use two spaces, and they’re selling everything you can think of: bags, jewelry, clothes, kids items, books, antiques, home decor items, holiday items.

“We also have a gorgeous bakery our church puts on, and all the bakery funds go to the beneficiary.”

For the last several years, the event’s beneficiary has received a check for more than $20,000. A different beneficiary is chosen each year, and the funds come from the bakery sales, booth rentals and ticket sales.

“This year, we are raising money for Whispering Angels Youth Ranch, which is a new ministry here in Hall County out Clarks Bridge Road,” Lawson said. “They pair children in crisis with horses that are also rescued. Through the love and nurturing of a horse, the kids kind of pull out of the tailspin they are in.”

Lawson said the ranch also ministers to the needs of the child’s caregiver, be it a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.

Vendors filled the church’s banquet hall and spilled out into the lobby as well. Some vendors have participated since the first year, including local nonprofit Rahab’s Rope, which was the event’s first beneficiary.

Other vendors were participating for the first time, including Robin Bird Smith, who said she was excited “to see how it goes.”

“I am half potter, half sculptor,” Smith said. “All of my work is functional in some form or fashion, but it’s different than typical pottery ware because it has sculpture attached.”

One piece was a serving platter with two, three-dimensional dogs running along the side. Smith said all her work is food safe.

“Most people like the whimsy of it,” she said.

Other vendors included the Bees Knees Boutique, Takeout Jewelry Co., the Chattahoochee Woodturners and Pine Designs out of Dahlonega, to name just a few.

Jan Partrick, one of the founding women of the Emporium, said the event was an idea from several women in the church a decade ago.

“We were trying to find an event for our women’s ministry that could reach out to our community in ways for women and families,” she said. “Women love to shop, and it was just a great venue to put together as an outreach. And that’s what it’s really meant for, to be an outreach each year.”

Partrick, a recently retired teacher who has been involved with the event every year, participated for the first time this year as a vendor.

She partnered with a fellow former teacher to operate a booth full of home decor items from wreaths and faux florals to wood and marble cutting boards.

“I recently retired and thought it would be fun,” she said. “We just decided, ‘You know, it’ll be fun to try it,’ and it has honestly helped me ease into retirement.”

Partrick said the first year, the Emporium made less than $12,000.

“We were begging vendors to come,” she said. “I mean, begging, and we got maybe 50 vendors. Now, we’re full, and maximum capacity is about 72 vendors. They come to us now, to Amy, who has done a fabulous job.”

Emporium was scheduled to run until 6 p.m. Friday and continues 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church, 751 Green St. NW in Gainesville. Tickets are $5 for adults and free for children 16 and younger.

“Women love it,” Partrick said. “They really participate and engage, and it’s just a fun thing to do.”