Hadassah honeymoon ends
Shoppers rifled through piles of clothing - designer jeans, leather jackets, wedding dresses galore - focused on leaving the 84th and final Hadassah-WIZO bazaar with as much stuff as possible.
Organizers were pleased with the turnout of 9,500, just shy of their 10,000 target, but the prevailing mood was one of nostalgia for a time gone by. Shoppers, dragging bulging garbage bags behind them, felt it, too.
After this bazaar, there will be no others. That's because the annual fundraiser, held by the Toronto chapters of Canada's largest Zionist organization, is a relic from a time when most women were housewives and discount department stores did not exist.
Anne Bank, a Hadassah-WIZO member since 1970, sat sullenly at a table while the last items went. "You know, there's a time for everything," she said. "I guess it's just time for us to go on to other ways and means."
It was easy to see why the bazaar has become harder to organize. volunteer Irith McConnachie burst into the Danier Leather booth, with a coffee in hand.
"I was supposed to be here all day, but the office called," she said.
The demands of the modern-day woman.
In the early days, the Hadassah bazaar was a serious social event, making the society pages of city newspapers and advertising music, dancing and entertainment. In 1927, there was a perfect baby contest, a Punch and Judy show, and a large orchestra that "will render music for dancing throughout the evening."
A new Ford was a door prize in 1950, when 18 young married women were on hand to shine men's shoes. The bazaar was open until midnight in 1965, a year that saw 50,000 attendees.
By the '70s, more women were entering the workforce, leaving less time for large-scale organizing efforts. Then, in the '80s and '90s, discount stores like Winners and Wal-Mart opened shop, giving the bazaar stiff, year-round competition.
But those heavyweights couldn't compete with yesterday's sales. There would be no storing items away for future bazaars, so everything had to go.
Selma Opler, 72, and Shirley Lipton, 73, who have been coming to the bazaar for more than 20 years, sat down for a breather. They'd purchased two green sweatshirts for their husbands ($5 each), a La Senza Girl shirt for a granddaughter ($3), three silk headbands ($1), two jars of bread and butter pickles ($3), a sweater ($2) and a long suede skirt from Danier Leather ($10). And they weren't finished yet.
"We plan out our route," said Opler. "It's not haphazard."
Opler and Lipton have been friends since they were girls, and always look forward to the bazaar as a day to spend together. When they've finished their rounds they'll go out for dinner and catch up.
"We're really gonna miss it," Lipton said. "We're sad about that."
Some shoppers, like Marnie Cain and her two teenager daughters, arrived at the Direct Energy Centre long before the gates opened yesterday morning.
"It's the last one," said Cain, who took the day off from work to attend. "We've never been able to make it before. We wanted to see what it's all about."
" . before it's too late," her daughter Michelle, 18, chimed in. "We've watched it on TV for years."
Some shoppers, noting the swelling crowd, wondered if the turnout might convince organizers to keep the bazaar tradition alive. "It'll be back next year," one woman predicted, looking back at the line.