As a popular homework destination and home to the COG, John J. Hemmingson Center can be considered the launching point for several student-led businesses.
On occasional Wednesdays throughout the year, students who go into Hemmingson will find tables lining the center of the building adorned with various handmade items. The twist is that many of these vendors are students selling to other students.
“I wanted to sell to Zags,” said Nancy Bignell, a sophomore at Gonzaga. “It’s been fun. You get to see all of your friends walking by and meet some new people as well.”
Bignell owns and operates a greeting card business, and has found success among the student population at GU. She makes each design by hand, scans them and has them printed to create a variety of cards for any and every occasion. While Bignell creates the cards and designs them herself, she often engages with the community by having her friends sell at her booth during the Bazaar.
It’s also a kick-start into the Spokane community of vendors and buyers, said Bignell, who has conquered markets in Portland.
“It’s a great start to selling in Spokane and figuring out what cards college students like,” she said.
Lily Alsept, a senior at GU and fellow vendor at the Wednesday Bazaar, sells genuine leather and vegan leather earrings through her business, Leather on a Whim.
“It’s called Leather on a Whim because we literally decided to do this on a whim,” Alsept said. “We were here for the Bazaar at the GU tree lighting ceremony, and we literally started making them about two weeks before that.”
The success they found at the December Bazaar was minimal because of final exams, Alsept said. However, at the most recent Bazaar on Feb. 12, Alsept had more people talk to them in two hours than she did all day in December.
The Bazaar tends to line up with holidays, said Amy Guth, the business service manager for GUEST and coordinator of the Wednesday Bazaar. The first one of the academic year was shortly before Halloween, the second accompanied the holiday tree lighting, the most recent was on the Wednesday before Valentine’s Day and the last one of the year will be just before Easter.
“We like it to have a holiday shopping type of theme,” Guth said.
Bridget Foster, a senior at GU, was selling at her second Bazaar on Feb. 12. Foster creates handmade prints she thinks will suit the taste of students. Her table was filled with simplistic design featuring Florence, Italy, appealing to students who have studied abroad there, and more seasonal ones reading, “spooky season,” sold in October, for those looking for some holiday spirit.
Foster said she sells mostly out of financial necessity but said there is also a great crowd that comes through. Her friend, senior Matthew Rogers, an avid customer, thinks students should take advantage of her presence at the Bazaar.
“She is the best artist on Gonzaga’s campus,” Rogers said. “I have a lot of her original pieces in my room.”
Despite Foster being partially motivated by financial necessity, many of the student vendors continue or will continue to return to the Wednesday Bazaar and operate under a common theme.
“It’s something we just really enjoy doing,” Alsept said.