Christmas Craft & Vendor Shop

Johnstown police Sgt. Michael Plunkard (left) talks about the Cops for Tots toy drive at the Christmas Craft & Vendor Shop inside the former Press Bistro at the Central Park Complex on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, with (from left) shop worker Kelly Smith, Cambria County President Commissioner Tom Chernisky and shop manager Judy Cooper.

A pop-up Christmas-themed craft and toy shop featuring 16 local vendors opened this week in downtown Johnstown, and its organizers are accepting donated toys for Johnstown police officers to hand out to local children, they said.

“We’re trying to get people to shop local,” said Judy Cooper, who is in charge of the Christmas Craft & Vendor Shop at 110 Franklin St., Johnstown, the ground-floor space in Cambria County’s Central Park Commons that was most recently occupied by Press Bistro. “If you look at this store, you’ll see you can get just as much here as anywhere.”

A large box was placed by the shop’s front door for the collection of new toys to be donated for the “Cops for Tots” initiative. Johnstown police officers will keep the donated toys in their cruisers to give out to kids with whom they interact during the Christmas season.

“This is a way for us as a police department to get out there in the community, make those interactions with the younger generation,” said Sgt. Michael Plunkard. “It’s a great program. We’ve done it for years with different organizations.”

Cooper said anyone who donates a toy will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 gift certificate for the craft shop. The drawing will be held about a week before Christmas, she said.

Donated gifts don’t need to be wrapped; Cooper is accepting donations of wrapping paper, which can be dropped off at the shop.

Vendors with booths in the shop are Country Touch, Soap Hollow Soap, Nana’s Sweet Soy, The Amish Store, Home Sew for You, Gary’s Craft Shack, Sarah’s Gourmet Pretzels, Sugar Daddy’s Fudge & Candy, Pelow Wood Crafts, Sechler Sugar Shack, The Home Spun Peddler, Deist’s Crafts, Country Peddles, DD’s Unique Boutique and D3 Surplus.

Cooper said the vendors’ participation in the shop will mitigate the financial losses they’ve suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All these crafters got shut down,” she said, “and they lost so many shows. All of them are actually hurting right now, financially. … It’s local, and it’s helping them out, and it brings people together here, too.”

The shop’s hours this week are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, when the Christmas tree in Central Park will be lit; and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“This is part of the Christmas spirit,” said Cambria County President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky, who with his fellow commissioners in October approved renting out the former Press Bistro space to Cooper for the shop. “It brings activity to downtown. … Also, we’re helping out local vendors and the Johnstown police. It’s a win-win across the board.”

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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