Q & A with Nutcracker Market Chairman Shawn Stephens

Guest writer: Lorena Capellan, PR intern

This year’s 30th Annual Nutcracker Market, running November 11-14, is chaired by S. Shawn Stephens. I caught up with Shawn to discuss how she came up with this year’s theme, what she loves about the Market, and her awesome volunteering relationship with Houston Ballet.

Q: How long have you been a part of the Nutcracker Market and what motivated you to become a part of it?
A: I’ve volunteered at the Nutcracker Market since the late 1980s and have been part of the committee since the early 1990s. I got involved with the Houston Ballet Guild and the Market because I’d been a serious dancer before going to college, and I really love ballet. When I moved to Houston for law school, I was thrilled to be in a city with a fabulous ballet company. I began taking classes in Houston Ballet Academy’s adult program and looked for ways to support the Ballet. My first volunteer job for Houston Ballet was selling tickets at the Nutcracker Market, and I was hooked on the Market from that moment on.

Q: How did you react when the committee selected you to become the 2010 Chairman? Was there anything you started doing right away?
A: I was surprised and honored to be asked to chair this year’s Market. The job kicked in pretty quickly. I selected a theme and started putting my leadership committee of about 100 people together.

Q: What have you seen change/grow about the Nutcracker Market over the past years?
A: The Market has really grown over the years. Not only are there more merchants, but the sales have grown exponentially. The most important changes are the conveniences that have been added for shoppers. They include an information booth, package check, a café, ATM machines, wider aisles, and more space in general.

Q: What went into deciding the theme “Holiday Under the Big Top”?
A: Several factors were involved in selecting a theme. I wanted a theme that had not been used before (after 30 years of Markets, that is a challenge). The theme should be as big as the Market and also happy and fun. I also wanted something that would be easy to translate into decor for the building and onto the invitation. The “Holiday Under the Big Top” theme seemed to fit all those requirements.

Q: What are the advantages of doing holiday shopping at Nutcracker Market?
A: There are lots of advantages to shopping at the Market. The three big ones that immediately come to mind are:

1) You are able to purchase the gifts you need AND help Houston Ballet.
2) You have access to vendors from all over the country under one roof.
3) There is something at the Market for everyone on your list.

We try to have things for all pocketbooks and for women, men and children—even pets. We have gourmet food, clothes, fine jewelry, costume jewelry, house wares, ornaments, gift items, art, garden items and so much more.

Q: What are some special events that go on during Nutcracker Market?
A: There are three special events related to the Market. Many companies and firms like to entertain clients at these events. Wells Fargo sponsors the Preview Party on November 10 which allows those with tickets to shop at the Market before it opens to the public. Saks Fifth Avenue sponsors a fashion show and luncheon, and Macy’s sponsors a fashion show and brunch. All ticket holders can enter the Market an hour before the public. You can find out more about these events here.

Q: What do you think first-timers should know about the Nutcracker Market?
A: First time shoppers should know that the vendors come from all over the country. They should know that general admission tickets can be purchased at the door of Reliant Center for $12 or at any area Randall’s for $11, and there is an information booth at the Market if there are any questions. If shoppers buy bulky or heavy items, items can be checked at our package check and continue to shop unencumbered by those items. Reliant Center can be accessed via Metro rail too! Shoppers should think about the items they need and bring a list with them (including the sizes they need). It is also a good idea to use the program that you get at the entry for note taking. This allows you to note the number of a booth you may want to return to later.

This year’s Nutcracker Market will be held November 11-14 at Reliant Center. The Market will be open from 10 am – 8 pm Thursday and Friday, and from 10 am – 6 pm Saturday and Sunday. You can find out more information about the Nutcracker Market at http://www.houstonballet.org.



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