Gran Bazar Formula … Aug. 3, 2012

The Gran Bazar is an activity we’ve been doing for several years now. We almost have it down to a science. Almost.

Here’s the formula for how we create this island version of a yard sale. First find hundreds or maybe even thousands of donated items–clothing, shoes and household goods, both new and used—and find a way to get it to Cozumel. Then sort and price each piece low enough to make it affordable for families in need. We’ve learned that people take pride in paying even a few pesos for an item—equivalent to a just a few cents—rather than asking for something to be given to them.

Once items are priced, we pack them up in suitcases and begin looking for someone willing to help us transport them to our sale location. Thanks to Kelly from Cozumel Rocks for taking time off work to bring her truck to help us.

Finding a place to hold a sale can be a challenge. The ideal location is in the neighborhood of the families we’re trying to help. In this case, the bazar was “inside” Vida Abundante, the open-air church. Rather than the typical U.S. approach of taking out ads in newspapers to advertise the sale, we print just a few small fliers and rely on the neighborhood grapevine to spread the word. It works amazingly well. We had a long line of people waiting to get in an hour before the sale was to begin. That’s evidence of the scarcity of valued goods in neighborhoods where resources are very limited. There are no Goodwill stores here. No dollar stores. And even if families had transportation to other parts of town, they wouldn’t necessarily be able to pay the prices in the most affordable stores.

Our sale was staffed by several Friends of Cozumel volunteers as well as church members. The masses showed up, not caring how hot or crowded it was. And they found bargains—donated fashions from U.S., new clearance items from Walmart, lots of gently used but serviceable t-shirts, shoes and other household items. Once the sale was over, we packed up, hauled it back to FOC headquarters and stored to for the next sale.

The pesos earned from the sale are put back into FOC projects and then we start planning to do it all over again. But not right away. Our Gran Bazar formula is very good, but we still have one variable in the equation that we haven’t been able to fix—a bit of exhaustion. Once we’re rested up we’ll begin again, so let us know if you’re coming to Cozumel and are willing to bring a suitcase full of donations. We’d love your help. –Phyllis


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