The annual Third World Bazaar is like travelling to countries around the world and bringing home wonderful keepsakes without ever leaving home.
Back for its 14th season, the bazaar is akin to a pop-up shop that runs for seven weekends until Nov. 12. Stuffing their Manotick Station barn to the rafters, owners Dick and Peggy Bakker and their children spend months visiting the likes of Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Ecuador, Nepal and more sourcing unique hand-crafted pieces. It’s a smorgasbord of decor, furniture, clothing, jewelry, artwork, kitchenware and Christmas decorations in a riot of colours and materials.
All are bought directly from those who produce them, and while items are not certified fair trade – too much red tape, says Peggy Bakker – they are as sure as they can be that the people they’re buying from actually made the products.
In many cases, the artisans are ones Peggy’s family have known for more than 30 years. The concept for the Third World Bazaar began 36 years ago with Peggy’s brother, Paul Gervan, who was a volunteer with CUSO and first brought Indonesian masks back for a friend who had a boutique in Windsor. That grew into a seasonal bazaar Gervan ran from his barn in Seeley’s Bay, near Kingston.
When Gervan retired 14 years ago, Peggy took over the business, moving it to Manotick Station and gradually expanding it.
“It’s a very unique situation,” Peggy says of the relationships that have developed with some of their suppliers. “We’re very lucky to have continued this business on in the sense that we get to travel back to these places that kind of seem like second homes.”
This year’s bazaar, which benefits the Shepherds of Good Hope, Doctors Without Borders and Habitat for Humanity, opened on Sept. 29 and runs Fridays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Note that as the weather gets cooler, so too will the barn as it’s not heated.
Items expected to be popular this year include “boat style” furniture, which incorporates pieces from old boats, as well as other recycled and repurposed furniture, live-edge decor, driftwood (there are even Christmas trees in bleached driftwood), Turkish lights and hand-blown glass on gamal wood.
And there’s always something that becomes a surprise hit each year. “I don’t know what it will be this year, we never know,” Peggy said before opening weekend. “One year it was feather dusters.”
Although the first two weekends of the season are now done, there is still plenty to find. The Bakkers buy so much stock that there’s never enough room to display it all at once. “We’re restocking constantly,” Peggy says.