Forget the sugar plum fairies, Houston Ballet's Nutcracker Market organizers have visions of greenbacks dancing in their heads as the annual holiday mart once again enjoyed record attendance and record proceeds. More than 112,000 shoppers crossed the turnstiles to take home $19,155,050 worth of goodies during the four-day shop-till-you-drop marathon.
Surpassing 2012's record numbers, that's an attendance increase of 7.1 percent and an 8.1 percent bump in merchant sales at the Reliant Center holiday spectacular. That means a cool $4 million-plus for Houston Ballet Foundation coffers, as the dance company receives 10 percent of merchant sales in addition to ticket sales, event sales (preview party and fashion shows) and sponsorships.
Hats off to Nutcracker Market chair Cynthia Brown, preview party chair Lynda Transier, Saks luncheon and fashion show chairs Debra Hovnatanian and Joella Mach and Macy's fashion show and brunch chairs S. Shawn Stephens and Kimberly Van Belle-Ebel.
Organizers, including Houston Ballet executive director Jim Nelson and director of individual giving and events Patsy Chapman, might have anticipated the market's ever-growing popularity. After all, zealous shoppers began tailgating at Reliant Park as early as 7 a.m. each day. In preparation for their Olympian shopping efforts, the ladies were seen consuming champagne, croissants, mimosas and other breakfast treats.
Stamina was needed to cover the 1 million square feet of shopping space and visit all 300 booths where merchants from 33 states displayed their wares.
Houston Ballet reports that shoppers came from near and far, some coming in from California, Arizona and Florida.