More than 250 vendors, artists, crafters and winemakers will gather at the Hampton Roads Convention Center June 3 – 5. Sandra Gardner, founder, promoter and owner is proud of the event she has successfully brought to the Virginia Peninsula. “Years ago, I attended the bazaar in Richmond and noticed that a lot of the vendors were from the Hampton Roads area. I thought that there were enough to support a local event. And so the Bodacious Bazaar (BB) was born,” she says. She has held successful events for 10 years (with a pandemic break).
Bazaar is defined as a marketplace where goods and services are exchanged or sold. The name is from the Persian word “bazar.” Gardner says her top priority is for the vendors to have fun and to be profitable. She wants the show to be of top quality with upscale and unusual items. In addition to crafts, there are unique gifts, decorative accessories, gourmet foods and fine art. Exhibitors are juried. They must submit a brochure or photo of their product line. “I need to be sure they will fit into my show format,” says Gardner. “Many exhibitors tell me this is their best show. Some make more than $20,000,” she says. The most successful event was in 2019, with 352 exhibitors. Vendors come from all over, including Texas, Florida and Michigan. Attendance has been as high as 15,000.
BB is family owned and operated. This includes Gardner’s husband and children. She has a son, a daughter and three grandchildren.
Gardner is community minded. She has always donated a significant amount of the proceeds to local nonprofits, including American Red Cross of Hampton Roads, Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, the Junior League of Hampton Roads and the Kelly Weinberg Foundation. Gardner gives these organizations free booth space to promote their causes. She also helps anyone who is trying to start a business and is seeking advice. “They will follow me around,” she says with a smile.
In 2015, Gardner received the Best of Hampton Award for exceptional marketing success. This is awarded to local companies that enhance the positive image of small businesses through service to customers and community. In 2016, she received the Coastal Virginia magazine “Best of Readers’ Choice” Award. In 2018, Gardner was named one of “Tidewater’s Twelve Leading Ladies.” BB was named “Best Shopping Event in Hampton” for eight consecutive years.
Gardner has another successful business: Fun Fetal Photos. She is a nurse and obstetrics is her field. “I had already scanned thousands of babies in private practice for 30 years, so starting the business was easy,” she says. “I used the equity in my home to finance equipment and furnishings.” She has been in business for 14 years and received the 2016 Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. She has another location in Lexington, Virginia. She gets referrals from doctors, and clients come from out of state. High definition ultrasound photos are taken at 16 weeks of pregnancy and again at 30 weeks. “My clients usually come back and visit after the baby is born,” she adds.
Gardner is an artist herself. She has an “art room” in her home. She works with stained glass and watercolors. She also makes jewelry. “I don’t sell my work,” she says. “My work is for gifts.” Gardner is a self-proclaimed “flower person.” She plants miniature gardens and has a greenhouse of orchids. And she raises bees. For a getaway she and her husband like to go camping.
Gardner is looking forward to the upcoming three-day shopping extravaganza, seeing familiar vendors and shoppers and meeting new ones.
TO THE POINT:
Address: P. O. Box 2490, Poquoson, VA 23662
Contact: Sandy Gardner, owner