With the 2019 Grand Central Holiday now open in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal, holiday shoppers will once again flock to the beaux-arts location for beautiful, custom-made gifts from jewelry to scarves to art. Connie Breslin, curator of the gift selection, offers a glimpse into the long-standing tradition, set to run through December 24.
For more information, visit GrandCentralTerminal.com.
The Grand Central Holiday Fair launched in 1993, making it the longest-running indoor market. What differentiates it from other holiday offerings?
Connie Breslin: All the items sold each year by 40 carefully chosen artisans are handcrafted with love, and for the most part made in the USA, often from materials local to them. Customers can browse for children’s toys and clothes, gifts of clothing and one-of-a-kind accessories for women and men, plus beautiful gifts for the home, including ornaments from a range of materials, and pet gifts, too! It’s truly one-stop shopping and gathering place in the heart of New York. And unlike other holiday markets in New York, the Fair is not just indoors, but in the grand hall of one of the most beautiful examples of Beaux Arts architecture in the world.
As the long-time curator of the gift selection, what is the criteria for a gift to be considered? What is the process?
Applications for selling booths at the Fair are posted to our website each year on April 15. They are subject to a juried committee's review process in early summer, after which notifications to the winning booths are sent out.
What attracts vendors to apply to be part of the Holiday Fair?
The Fair is a terrific opportunity for a business to create their brand and show it to the world. They each begin as small artisanal operations, and from here many have expanded into other markets and opportunities.
Please share some of the types of gifts that have resonated with customers over the years.
Jewelry is always creative, exclusive, exciting. There are many hand-blown glass ornaments, and children’s clothing that cannot be found in stores. Mens accessories that complement each other and impress discerning friends and family: handcrafted ties, belts, small leather goods, incredible scarves. For women, our vendors feature hats both woven and knitted, as well as scarves, gloves, cold-weather gifts—and lovely sweaters. Pet gifts include clothing for your best furry friend, as well as toys and food treats. Gifts for the home: hand-blown art glass and glass decanters, whimsical painted wooden salt and pepper shakers, drinking glasses ornamented with wood, organic beeswax candles. And we can’t leave out the art! Photographic art, art for children with accompanying books, letterpress art from small family printers. Essentially, everything you would hope to find for unusual and personal gifting.
What do you think keeps customers coming back each year?
Interesting and different gifts as well as the camaraderie. They enjoy the newness: each year the artisans are challenged for new products, and the excitement in customers at finding just the right gift (that can be found nowhere else) never gets old!
What was the most memorable vendor experience you remember?
We had a wonderful vendor approach us with men’s scarves made from remnants of men’s suiting fabric. They were not inexpensive, but beautiful, so we decided to do a booth with her. She has been with us for several years, and two years ago a renowned Broadway actor came in and bought one—and then came back and bought gifts for his entire production company!
Do vendors often return to participate in the fair year over year? Who is the longest-standing Holiday Fair vendor?
Many vendors make repeat appearances, but The Glass Haus is probably our longest-running vendor. They do hand-blown glass ornaments that customers come back for year after year. That said, we are always looking for new and interesting merchandise that we can excite our customers with!
Can you share what customers can expect from Holiday Fair this year?
Quite simply, we set the tone for the holidays. With our music and individual attention from the artisans themselves—as well as their staff—there is simply no other holiday market like ours.
The Holiday Fair runs November 18–December 24, Monday–Friday from 10 AM–8 PM; Saturdays from 10 AM–7 PM; and Sundays from 11 AM–6 PM, except for the following days and times: closed Thanksgiving, and open 10 AM–6 PM December 24.