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December glory: Bengaluru churches are opening their doors to eclectic flea markets



BENGALURU: When restaurateur Geoffrey White launched the Little White Kitchen on Brigade Road in March, his biggest marketing tool was word-of-mouth publicity. Participating in a mini flea market at the All Saints’ Church in Richmond Town last month turned out to be a great platform for him to create awareness about his venture. “It was a non-commercial event and proceeds were donated to the church as a token of our thanksgiving, but some of the 600-odd people I met here later became customers of my restaurant,” he said.

Churches across the city are opening up their premises to encourage members to put up stalls and sell their wares that range from handcrafted accessories to homemade cuisines. Most popularly conducted during feasts and festivities, these mini flea markets or pop-ups are especially high in the month leading up to Christmas. These serve as platforms to not only encourage small-scale or home entrepreneurs, but also further social welfare activities.

JM Richard, member of the Rice Memorial Church on Avenue Road, said that on December 2, they will conduct an open-for-all event to celebrate White Christmas, which will involve some of their 600-odd members putting up stalls that will sell food, books, clothes, decor and fashion accessories. “The money earned will be used for carols, feeding and clothing the poor during Christmas season,” he said.

According to Hennur-resident Veronica Stevens, flea markets at churches provide her an opportunity to pursue hobbies and interests that are removed from her administrative job at a real estate firm. “I make hand-painted home linen, decoupage bottles, Christmas candles,

table runners and other home decor accessories. Selling them at the church is a way of giving back to the society using my talents, while enjoying the festive spirit,” she said.

Stevens now has offers from other flea market organisers who want her to put up a stall at their events. This, the 52-year-old said, has encouraged her to think about scaling up and pursuing her creative hobby more aggressively post retirement.

For churchgoers like Priya Stephen, spending time at stalls at churches makes for a good family outing after attending mass. She is a member of the St Anthony’s Friary Church in Koramangala, which has a full-time cafe, along with two-three makeshift stalls that sell homemade food like samosas, patties and meatballs every week.

“Food stalls in churches as large as ours help members to rest and spend time together on the premises after attending mass. Since these stalls are also open to the public, one can get friends along,” said Stephen, a canine behaviourist.

David Soans, committee member of St Andrew’s Church on Cubbon Road, said they ensure the stalls are sustainable and plastic-free. “When members set up stalls, it brings out their creative side while helping them be part of social welfare activities,” he said. The church also helps nonprofits sell products on weekly basis to raise money for various causes.

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