Holiday shoppers flock to Virginia Beach Convention Center for unique gifts

Virginia Beach, Va. – On a day dedicated to saving as much money as possible, would you pay a $7 cover charge to shop?

It turns out several thousand did at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in what has become for many their own Black-Friday tradition.

Artist Bob Langston starts with a blank piece of paper and a cute six-year-old in the chair. When he’s done, she’ll have the kind of gift you can’t get on Black Friday at Radio Shack.

Bob’s booth was a popular corner in the Virginia Beach Convention Center today. Thousands of shoppers paid a $7 admission and massed there looking not for the mass-produced must-have, but something made with heart and talent from more than 200 regional artists.

It might be a spool of wire turned into a cat toying with yarn, planks of wood that became birdhouses, or ink in a pen that captured the faces of two 7-year-old BFFs.

Cindy Summs went there looking for that perfect, and personal Christmas present.

“Unique gifts, something different. Not a television,” says Summs.

Something you can’t get at Walmart?

And she found it in a bin of historic photographs.

Daughter Kelsey said this has become a tradition for them.

“I just would rather spend Black Friday looking at all the local artists and people who come in to town,” says Kelsey.

Same for Kelli Whalen. She’s been to nearly all of the 30-odd Christmas Markets.

“I love the craft show,” says Whalen.

The only one she missed was seven years ago, when she gave birth to daughter Neeve, on Black Friday.

In some ways, this was the anti-Black Friday shopping experience. Sure, shoppers still sometimes jostled shoulder-to-shoulder in tight aisles, but when they found the exact right thing, that one-of-a-kind keepsake, you could see it on their faces.

The Virginia Beach Christmas Market continues tomorrow and Sunday, at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Related:

Time lapse: Artist sketches caricature of girl at Beach Christmas Market

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