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Houston’s Nutcracker Market Brings Out More Than 92,000 Shoppers, Earns a Record $1.085 Million In Just a Preview — A Big Win For The Ballet

A Holly Jolly Night and Three Days Of Merry Gift Buying

BY // 11.14.23
photography Daniel Ortiz

What a holly, jolly night and three days that Houston Ballet gifted the city with the 43rd annual Nutcracker Market at NRG Center. When all was said and done, 92,388 shoppers (4,000 more than last  year) had crossed the portals into that fabulous holiday extravaganza.

While the final sales of all that glittery, sparkly merchandise are yet to be totaled, we can report that the dazzling Wells Fargo Preview Party on the Wednesday night before the shopping began in dizzying earnest on Thursday morning earned a record $1.085 million in ticket sales. Add to that the myriad purchases made and one can see that the market was on its way to more than generous proceeds for Houston Ballet. 

With initial numbers in, it appears that Nutcracker Market sales will nudge $20 million, meaning that Houston Ballet would receive more than $5.1 million.

Mignon, Gill, Nancy Almodovar, Mignon Gill, Gary Hudgins (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)
Mignon Gill, honoree Nancy Almodovar, Carolyn Nihon, Gary Hudgins at the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market Macy’s Fashion Show and Luncheon. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

Eleven percent of sales and 100 percent of ticket purchases go to support Houston Ballet, the ballet academy and scholarships. Since its founding in 1981, the market has raised $85.5 million for the company.

Applause, applause for market chair Katrina Arnim; preview party chairs Ann Bean, Janine Iannarelli, Patti Murphy, and Tina Raham Stewart as well as the all-volunteer team of Houston Ballet Guild members who work year-round on the mammoth event.

Beth Muecke, Stacy Lindseth, Donae Chramosta, Duyen Nguyen (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)
Beth Muecke, Stacy Lindseth, Donae Chramosta, Duyen Nguyen at the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market Wells Fargo Preview Party (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

Kudos to Saks Fifth Avenue fashion show and luncheon chairs Martha Finger and Leigh Smith, who helmed the sellout event on Thursday, and special kudos to luncheon honoree S. Shawn Stephens. As Arnim noted in introduction of Stephens, the dedicated community force has held every leadership position in the ballet including serving as board president and board chairman as well as Ballet Ball chair and Nutcracker Market chair and more. Total ticket sales: $370,650.

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Heidi Parkhurst, Martha Finger, Katrina Arnim, Shawn Stephens, Leigh Smith (22) (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)
Heidi Parkhurst, Martha Finger, Katrina Arnim, honoree S. Shawn Stephens, Leigh Smith at the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show and Luncheon. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

Friday saw Macy’s take over the fashion show luncheon stage which was organized by chairs Mignon Gill and Carolyn Nihon and honored Nancy Almodovar, the CEO and owner of Nan & Company Properties, which generously provided shopping bags for guests attending both the Saks Fifth Avenue and the Macy’s luncheons. Total ticket sales: $308, 750.

Minority Merchants Supported

Wells Fargo representatives were on hand throughout the market to support three new merchants selected as part of a Small Business Diversity Program pilot program which Wells Fargo launched this year. The program makes it easier for local minority-owned businesses to participate by waiving barriers. This year’s debut merchants included Africa On My Back, Sinless Treats and Qué Bonito Mexican Fashion.

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