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National Trust pop-up offers unique stocking fillers

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Distinctly Bermudian: some of the locally made items available in the Bermuda National Trust Christmas pop-up (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Diana Downs with some of the locally made items available in the Bermuda National Trust Christmas pop-up sale (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Bermuda National Trust volunteer Diana Downs with items available in the Bermuda National Trust Christmas pop-up sale (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
A Bermuda slate painting by Diana Fearis (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Items available in the Bermuda National Trust pop-up sale (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Prehistoric shark teeth, pink sand sprinkles, jewellery – the Bermuda National Trust Christmas pop-up shop is full of unique, locally made items.

The fourth annual pop-up, opened at the BNT’s Waterville headquarters in Paget, will run up until Christmas Eve.

“People seem to find little gifts that are good,” said volunteer Diana Downs. The shop has been her baby since it opened.

“I think what happens is you either come in and the shop is not your cup of tea, or you come in and buy a lot,” she said. “There are nice stocking stuffers. There are things you don’t normally see in the shops in Hamilton.”

This year the Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped the BNT’s seasonal fundraising efforts. Its popular Christmas Walkabout in St George’s was cancelled due to the coronavirus, much to the disappointment of fans.

Earlier this month, the BNT held a Christmas festival outside Waterville.

“We had a number of vendors outside in the garden,” Ms Downs said. “Knowing that we could only allow a limited number of people inside, we wanted to give people plenty to do outside.

“We had some kids’ activities. There was a gingerbread man, and carollers. It was a very festive, but low-key event. We had a good turn out of people coming and shopping. It was nice.”

Britt Franklin, director of development and engagement, said the festival brought in a few new people.

She added: “Everyone is very excited and surprised that we are open all the way up until Christmas.”

Strict pandemic safety measures are being followed. To get into the pop-up on the upper level of Waterville, visitors must sign a contact tracing form, wear a mask, sanitise their hands, and have their temperature checked.

The pop-up can accept five to six shoppers inside the building at a time. But so far, there have rarely been more than one or two inside at a time.

“Because the items are spread out across two rooms we are able to give people a safe shopping experience,” said Ms Franklin. “We are limiting how many people are in at one time.”

But she said the quiet atmosphere gives people the time to slow down and look at everything.

More than 30 local artists are participating in this year’s pop-up shop.

Diana Fearis offers paintings of Bermuda scenes on slate. Some of her items are as big as plates while others are small key chains and Christmas tree ornaments.

“We had a corporate guy come in,” Ms Downs said. “He was looking for corporate gifts and bingo. He bought a number of Ms Fearis’s items. Then off he went. She will do custom animal ornaments as well.”

There are also traditional banana leaf angels by Ronnie Chameau, pottery by Jonathan Northcott, decorative plates and dishes by Helle Pukk, and jewellery by artists such as Maria Smith and Nahed Eid.

There are also things to eat such as home made jams, hot sauces and rum cakes.

“The jams by Sally Godet have sold very well,” Ms Downs said. “All of this is Bermudian designed or manufactured. It is quite a wide range of things on offer.”

She said so far, it is hard to tell how much the annual pop-up sale has been impacted by Covid-19.

“Last year the second week was slow, as it has been this year,” she said. “Then people got into the Christmas spirit and things picked up.”

The BNT’s own products are also on sale such as the entire set of the BNT’s parish books for $175, or $25 for individual books.

“That is quite a bargain,” Ms Downs said. “The only parish we haven’t covered yet is Southampton, and we are working on that.”

Ms Downs finds the participating artists by “scouting” throughout the year. She keeps her eyes and ears out for talented local artists with interesting products.

“We have a steady core group who have done it in the past,” Ms Franklin said.

But Bermuda artists can call the BNT if they are interested in participating next year.

The holiday shop is open Monday to Friday from now until December 24 from 10am until 5pm.

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Published December 11, 2020 at 8:09 am (Updated December 10, 2020 at 8:58 pm)

National Trust pop-up offers unique stocking fillers

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