Featured Vendor~ Opportunities

Opportunities is owned and operated by Faith Barrett of Lancaster County. Opportunities is just what the name implies, an opportunity for the community to help young girls and woman fight human trafficking and oppression to pursue a dignified life. Opportunities features an arrangement of jewelry, bags, sandals, and accessories all of which are handcrafted by the talented young girls and woman. The proceeds of all sales go straight to the three organizations Opportunities supports, Seeds of Hope Homes, New Hope Girls Academy, and Mercy Jewelry.  Faith has made a home for Opportunities here at BC, and we are very gracious to be part of such a great cause.

seeds of hope

using fashion to educate

Photo courtesy of Sseko

I started at Building Character in October 2013. My favorite part of being a vendor at BC is telling people about the non-profit organizations with which I partner. These organizations do amazing things. I’m forever inspired by them and what they do for women and girls in third world countries.

Over the last ten years I’ve gradually become aware of the plight of women and girls in third world countries. I heard things like it is common for women from the “Untouchables” caste in India to kill their infant babies in order to keep them from the horrible life that an “Untouchable” woman has to endure. I heard things like many women choose to sell their bodies many times a day just to provide food and shelter for their families. I also heard about mothers selling their own daughters into prostitution and sex slavery. I heard these things and I felt sick.

I also began to hear about organizations that exist to help these women. These organizations rescue women from human trafficking. I became aware companies being started for the sole purpose of giving women jobs. I also became aware of schools starting in extremely impoverished communities to educate young girls in order to help prevent their families from selling them in to slavery. I heard these things and I wanted to do something. But, I was stuck on what that “something” might be. I began buying from companies who sold fair trade products, but I still wanted to more!

During the same time period, I began creating. I inherited my grandmother’s sewing machine and I began making beautiful things. I made beautiful things for my home, my kids, my nieces and nephews, and then I began selling my beautiful creations. There is no higher compliment than for someone else to purchase something that you have worked hard to make. They value your attention to detail, choice of materials, creativity, vision, skill, and time so much that they are willing to pay their own hard earned money to have it for themselves. There is nothing else quite like it!

One day it occurred to me that I should combine my two passions! Opportunities is the result of that thought. At Opportunities I sell my own handmade creations, but best of all I offer the fabulous goods made by women in an effort to create beauty out of their lives and situations. I partner with three non-profit organizations: Seeds of Hope Homes, New Home Girls Academy, and Mercy Jewelry.

Seeds of Hope Homes operates on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. They exist to offer rehabilitation and education to girls who have been rescued from human trafficking. Before Seeds of Hope existed just a few years ago, the girls were often rescued at the hospital after an assault, but then had no where to go after being released. They simply went back onto the streets and often taken again as slaves. The girls make beautiful beaded bracelets and shell earrings that are sold at Opportunities.

New Hope Girls Academy was started to help prevent the girls in an extremely impoverished community in the Dominican Republic from being sold into slavery. The schools motto is: Dreaming for the girls in the barrio (slums) the same dreams we have for our own daughters. Several of the ladies (some of them moms of the girls in the school) in the community sew beautiful bags that are sold at Opportunities. The ladies are paid a fair wage to help support their families and part of the money goes to support the school.

Mercy Jewelry exists to provide employment with dignity to women who formerly have been involved in prostitution in San Pedro Dominican Republic. These women have chosen prostitution not to get rich, but to provide the bare necessities for their families. Many of them have felt that there is no other choice for them to feed their children, but to sell their bodies. Mercy Jewelry provides them employment making beautiful jewelry.

All of the proceeds from each organization’s sales goes directly back to them, after taking out a portion of the rent and commission fees. The highlight of my month is writing out checks to each of these amazing organizations! It feels great to be doing something to help! Every day I feel privileged to be doing a small part to give women and girls without options…Opportunities!

seeds of hopecheveron pursecapes


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And So Saturday Is ‘Lancaster History Day,’ Mayor Gray Proclaims

BUiLDiNG CHARACTER’s warehouses featured during Saturday’s walking tour


Then & Now: The Lancaster Storage Co. storefront in the 1950s and today.

DOWNTOWN LANCASTER, Pa. – Ever look at the city’s historic buildings and wonder what used to be?

Get a first-hand lesson during the Lancaster Walk & Talk Tour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18.

In fact, Mayor Rick Gray proclaims Saturday “Lancaster History Day” in recognition of the 20 sites on the Historic Lancaster Walk & Talk Tour. The historic business and industry sites have adaptive re-use in common. Constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, the sites have been preserved and restored for 21st century purposes – the city’s largest shopping destinations, offices, residences, restaurants and hotels.

“Lancaster’s history and cultural heritage are inextricably linked to its architecture,” says Gray in the proclamation. “Our movement to save historic structures and celebrate their importance with the Historic Walk & Talk Tour demonstrates our willingness to save historic buildings and restore them for adaptive reuses.”

It has been proven time and time again that historic preservation encourages neighborhood revitalization, economic development and heritage tourism.

The Historic Lancaster Walk & Talk Tour is a joint education initiative of the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County,  

In addition to adaptive re-use, another theme of the tour is how the railroads charted the course for Downtown Lancaster’s development in the 1700s and 1800s. Much of the three-mile long tour is along the corridor from where the railroad station once stood, at the corner Queen and Chestnut streets, northwest along where trains used to run toward where Franklin & Marshall College is today.

Sites on the tour include:

  • Sehner-Ellicott-von Hess House (1787)
  • H. Doer Tobacco Warehouse (1886),
  • Hirsh & Brother Tobacco Company Warehouse (1869-1874)
  • Fulton Theatre (1852)
  • Lancaster Central Market (1889)
  • Old City Hall (c. 1795-1798)
  • Brunswick Hotel site (1915-1920)
  • Pennsylvania Railroad Station site (1834)
  • Lancaster Storage Company Garages (c. 1808-09; storefront c. 1920), now BUiLDiNG CHARACTER (est. 2007)
  • High Welding Company (c. 1820)
  • S. R. Moss Cigar Factory (1896; rebuilt 1907)
  • Swisher & Buckwalter Tobacco Warehouses (c. late 800’s to early 1900’s)
  • G. Falk & Bro. and A. S. Rosenbaum Tobacco Warehouse (1881)
  • John DeHaven Tobacco Company Warehouse (c. 1876)
  • Edison Electric Illuminating Company (c. 1886 and 1892)
  • Robison, Blair and Company Factory (c. 1906)
  • Wacker Brewing Company (c. 1799)
  • Stevens High School (c. 1904-1906) and
  • The Walter Schnader Tobacco Warehouse (c. 1900).

BUiLDiNG CHARACTER’s warehouses-turned-retail store (c. 2008) were renovated in 2007, including the replacement of all the exterior sliding doors recreated to match the originals.

In addition to a wealth of history on the tour and docents dressed in 19th century attire, there will be ice cream, candy and spirits. Yuengling’s Ice Cream will be served as well as Miesse Candies and The Hershey Company’s new “Lancaster” soft caramel creme candies. Season’s Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom will serve samplings. The tasting rooms will be open at Thistle Finch Distillery and the Wacker Brewing Company.

Artist Rebecca Lee also will demonstrate her work on the tour, and artwork from Penn-Mar will be displayed. Many of Penn-Mar’s larger pieces have had upwards of 85 people take part in their creation.

Tickets for the tour are $18 for members of the Historic Preservation Trust, $20 for non-members and $10 for children under the age of 12. Blocks of five tickets may be purchased for $75. Ticket sales will be at 123 N. Prince St. (Tour Stop #1). The self-guided tour begins at 10 am and ends at 3 pm.  Continue reading

Singer-songwriter Vin Fischer debuts new album

Photo credit: Jesse Egner Photography

Vin Fischer’s latest, “The Bridge Ahead,” makes reference to the bridge that connects his hometown of Columbia to Wrightsville. Photo credit: Jesse Egner Photography

LANCASTER, Pa. — Vin Fischer’s album release party and show is Friday, Aug. 1 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at BUiLDiNG CHARACTER, 342 N. Queen St., rear warehouses, Lancaster, featuring Jesse Egner on cello and opening guests Main Street Sweep.
“The Bridge Ahead” is Fischer’s second full-length effort and includes Scott Rennie on banjo, vocals by Casey Jane and Egner. “This is the sound I wanted for this project,” said 25-year-old Fischer. It includes “Ashes,” “River Town Folk Jam,” “Strange,” “While you were Sleeping” and an introduction track of Fischer’s catchy sound check, “Checking the Microphone,” heard at the beginning of nearly every performance. Vin Fischer_Photo by Jesse Egner Photography
Many of Fischer’s songs were written about his hometown of Columbia, Pa., and include references to the mighty Susquehanna River and other memories of growing up in a riverside town. His first album, “Into the Water,” was released in 2012.

A Russian-speaking photo dealer walked into BUiLDiNG CHARACTER and the rest is history



Erin Waters, owner of Fotographiya, brings her fair share of originality to BC.

Fotographiya specializes in vintage photography including snapshots, portraits, tintypes, and cabinet cards. You could spend hours rummaging through the vintage and beautifully preserved fotographs in her shop.  Her photos range from cute-and-quirky family photos to vintage postcards to down right creepy portraits. Waters’ shop has a timeless aura about it. Even if collecting photography isn’t your thing, checking out her vintage collection is certainly a must while at BC.


How long have you been with BUiLDiNG CHARACTER?

Since August 2013

What type of items do you sell at your booth?

I am a professional photography dealer, so I primarily sell vintage photographs. I try to stock a variety of images like snapshots, cabinet cards, and tintypes at reasonable prices. I also have framed images ready to hang in a home, both in their original frames and in new ones. I also sell a line of new gift items created from vintage mug shots — coasters, cards, journals, and magnets. Also in my shop are photo albums, both empty and full of snapshots. I also have a selection of ephemera like advertising cards and Victorian scrap. Lately I’ve been making note cards made from vintage photographs as well as collages on larger canvases. My goal is to have something for everyone — decorators, artists, collectors, and people who just need a gift for a friend.

Your favorite thing about being a vendor/seller at BUiLDiNG CHARACTER?

Being part of a great store!

What made you want to start your craft/hobby/collection?

I’ve been living with vintage photos since I was a kid. My dad has collected daguerreotypes for nearly 30 years and while it took me a while to decide to join him and my brother as a dealer, it was pretty much inevitable. I’ve collected photographs since I was a little kid and until 6 years ago, I always was a dealer, just not full-time. I have a museum studies degree from NYU but while studying, I realized that what I really wanted to do was be a professional photography dealer.

 What other hobbies do you have?

I am an avid reader and co-run the Second Sunday Book Club here in Lancaster. I love to travel and take photos when I do.  I probably watch a bit too much TV. I love to swim. One of my favorite things to do is search for photos. Luckily, that’s what I do for a living.

Three interesting facts about you? 

I speak fluent Russian and lived in Yaroslavl, Russia for 2 years.

My favorite sport to play is water polo although I haven’t done that in years.

I am on the board of the Daguerreian Society.

If you could transport yourself to back to any time era, what year would it be? (or what is your favorite era of items to collect?)

Mid to Late Victorian. Of course, that’s when photography was invented. Whenever there is indoor plumbing, actually. Anything else is a deal breaker.



Celebrating Earth Day!

Today BC had the opportunity to be a part of  Earth Day at the downtown Lancaster campus of Harrisburg Area Community College. We were very excited to share our love of recycling and reusing with the students, and mutually conscious businesses and organizations. 

We brought a small sampling of our eco-friendly items and expressed creative uses for recycling while giving materials a beautiful, new purpose! By supporting local businesses that practice green efforts you are also contributing to a more sustainable life and a greener planet!



Hello spring, we’ve been waiting for you


Oh spring,

the warm air, the bright lovely colors, flowers blossoming, animals awakening, birds chirping, what’s not to love after this long cold bitter winter? I’m not sure about you guys but this spring could not come fast enough!

The great news is… while winter was bitterly cold and dragging on, vendors at BC spent their time indoors wisely. We are so excited about the new bright inventory arriving to go with this weather.

Don’t forget to stop in the shop for more exciting spring must-haves!

Here are some of our favorites for SPRING 2014.


Featuring: Style Archeology, VintageLancaster, Cairtree,Night Owl Tiles, BeeBee’s All Natural


Featured (left to right)Evolution Handmade by Handmade Mama- State of Gay Equality Pillows (Texas), sandraCycled (green left and far right), VintageLancaster (Holly Lessey Original Camera Design), The Sassy Tassel (7 book)


The Perfect Mason


ImageMason Jars, Ball Jars, Atlas Jars, Kerr Jars, they’re all the rage these days. Thanks to Pinterest and other popular D.I.Y sites. While rummaging through vintage and antique stores, you are sure to come across a few dozen of these little canning jars, in different sizes, colors, shapes, and prices. I have noticed  looking at different jars, the price ranges anywhere from $3-and higher. The price all depends on age, condition, and rarity. To the average customer who just wants these jars for fun projects the prices can cause a little sticker shock, so heres some background information and ideas for the infamous Ball Mason Jars.

A brief history 

The mason jar was invented and patented in 1858 Philadelphia by a local tinsmith named John Landis Mason. The jars were originally made and still used to can and preserve food. Most of the antique jars are colorless or they have a faint aqua tint, which was originally called the “Blue Ball.” The aqua tint jars became increasingly popular because the tint allowed for less light exposure, making the food last longer and keep its nutritional value.

The most common jars you’ll see while thrifting and antiquing are the clear and aqua. You may get really lucky and come across a rare cobalt blue,clear with light green tint, black, or even milk-glass jars. Unfortunately, you’ll be paying a pretty penny for gems (the black reproductions are going for as high as $95, the green are going for $118!).

Over the past couple years ball jars have become novelty items and are being used in a vast amount of craft projects. Some companies have even turned the design into drinking cups with handles, (I own my fair share of these adorable glasses,) wine glasses, soap dispensers,light fixtures, etc.

How to tell the difference


Thanks to Pinterest this handy lil’ chart will be your guide to ball jar collecting/pricing.

You can also tell the age by whether or not the jar has rings on the bottom of it which indicates it was probably made before 1858, or if the jars have seems along the side it indicates it was machine made probably after 1915.

The majority  of the jars are embossed with the Mason patent date, you always check this for age. If you find a jar with unique embossing designs or misspelled words the value of the jar increases dramatically.



-A variety of styles and handmade Reclaimed Art mason holders available at BC

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(photo credit:Pinterest)

Everyone Loves a Sale

but what is better than just a sale?

A sale at your favorite one-stop-shop in Lancaster.

That’s right, our first Warehouse Sale of the year is approaching. Join us February 15-16-17 to get the best sales from some of your favorite vendors.

40th Parallel Fiber Studio & Leather Goods ~ 10% OFF shop
Artographs ~ 10% OFF shop
Barbers Artglass ~ 15% OFF shop
Bill’s Woodcraf ~ 10% OFF shop
Blueberry Hill ~ 10% OFF shop + marked down items
BUiLDiNG CHARACTER ~ 40% OFF hardware, salvage items, windows and doors; some exclusions
Cheap Frills ~ 20% OFF shop
Crystals Stones & Wire ~ 10% OFF shop + marked down items
Custom Canvas Prints ~ Marked down items
Debi’s Artistry ~ 20% OFF shop
Eclectic Collective ~ 10% OFF shop
Fotographiya ~ 10% to 20% OFF shop
Garden Party Soapworks ~ 20% OFF handmade
GlamTribale ~ 30% OFF shops
Handmade by Kanga ~ Marked down items
HiP THRIFT ~ 20% OFF Saturday, 30% OFF Sunday, 50% OFF Monday
How Baazar ~ 20% OFF shop
Isley Designs ~ 20% OFF quilts
J.P. McCaskey Art Club ~ 20% OFF shop
Love Letters ~ Marked down items
Next Door Home Decor ~ 10% OFF shop
Oi! Soy Candles ~
Opportunities ~ Marked down items
The Pink Peacock ~ 15% OFF shop
PlarnStar ~ 17% OFF both shops
Purple Giraffe ~ 30% OFF shop
Reclaimed Art ~ 15% OFF shop
Rejuvenated Furniture ~ 25% OFF shop
River Valley Music Collective ~ 20% OFF shop
SandraCycled ~ 10% OFF shop + marked down items
The Sassy Tassel ~ 40% off fabric bolts (full yard cuts only) + marked down items
Serendipity Gourds ~ Marked down items
Scrappy Bags ~ 10% OFF shop
SheCre8s ~ 15% OFF shop
Sisters ~ 10% OFF shop
Smilin’ Gal ~ 20% OFF shop
Sticks & Stones by Roxanne ~ 10% OFF shop
Style Archaeology ~ 15% OFF shop
Suite Spaces ~ Marked down items
The Vintage Vanity ~ 20% OFF shop
Sweet Sally Soaps ~ 15% OFF shop
Vintage Young ~ 25% OFF shop
VintageLancaster ~ 20% OFF shop; excludes handmade
WeLoveLancaster ~ 20% OFF shop
White Elephant ~ 20% OFF shop


WAIT, the good news is not over….

Baron Von Schwein will be catering Saturday, Feb. 16, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. outside in the rear parking lot of BC.

Don’t miss their amazing (sweet or spicy) pork roll buns.

What’s Going on in the BC World

ImageBUiLDiNG CHARACTER would like to welcome our new in-house singer/songwriter and friend Vin Fischer. Fischer is a one-man band from Columbia, Pa. He describes his music as alternative folk, inspired by variations of indie, folk, alternative, and punk genres. He is currently ranked #1 on Delaware Folk Charts by Reverbnation.

Vin Fischer’s first performance will be our Ladies Night Out/Music Friday on February 21st from 6:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m., he will be performing in the upstairs LoftWorks of BC.

Vin Fischer will also be launching the River Valley Music Collective at BC. The RVMC is an opportunity for local artists and emerging artists around the Susquehanna River Valley to have a place to share their talent and sell their merchandise.

We are very excited to be housing such a great opportunity!

–For more information on Vin Fischer click on his picture to the above

–For more information on the RVMC click on the picture below


Featured Vendor ~ VintageLancaster

ImageVintageLancaster is owned and operated by BUiLDiNG CHARACTER general manager Holly Lessey and husband, Micah. VintageLancaster features a wide range collection of handmade, upcycled, and vintage items. Holly and Micah have a great eye for rustic/industrial beauty, which is very evident in most of their pieces. You can also find specialty items featuring Holly’s photography, which includes greeting cards and pillows.

How long have you been with BUiLDiNG CHARACTER?

I have been with BC since February 2012.

Your favorite thing about being a vendor/seller at BUiLDiNG CHARACTER?

Just the fact that I can have a physical presence as a micro business in the community, in this community specifically, is amazing.  Without the kind of business model behind BC, people like me would only dream about having a local business.

What type of items do you sell at your booth? (How would you describe your items?)

Primarily vintage and some handmade or upcycled. I see it as urban industrial meets shabby chic.

What made you want to start your craft/hobby/collection?

I grew up with vintage things all around, except we didn’t call it that.  Mostly because of my dad and his mom, we used things around the house that were old, but they weren’t broken. In fact they lasted forever, so we kept using them.  My grandmother grew up through the Great Depression, so she was very frugal & took care of what she had.  In retrospect, I realize that she rarely bought anything new, but I don’t think she ever felt deprived. Mommom always said, even if it was time for giving gifts, “I don’t need anything” which is completely opposite of our consumer-minded culture.  Fast forward to me being a young married adult.  My husband and I were looking for a way to start a small home business. We realized maybe there was something to my affinity for vintage things that could generate a little extra income.  In 2010, VintageLancaster was launched initially as an ecommerce business only, through Etsy.com. Business was good, so we started looking locally for a place to put down roots.  That’s when we found BC. The rest, as they say, is history.

What other hobbies do you have? (Family, Friends, Reading, Swimming…) 

They say if you have a job that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.  Our small business is my job and my hobby.  I enjoy the whole process from finding our vintage objects, photographing them, creating marketing materials, upcycling shabby objects and even creating new art with the photographs we take.  Most evenings are spent packaging orders, pricing new items, making magnets and cards and more. It appeals to every aspect of my personality, from the insanely practical and utilitarian to the beautiful and artsy.

Three interesting facts about you? 

I would prefer to wear flip-flops all the time and I HATE to wear coats. I prefer cold sweets and like to keep my cookies and chocolate in the freezer.

If you could transport yourself to back to any time era, what year would it be? (or what is your favorite era of items to collect?) 

Probably early 1900s-1920/30s — Art Deco & Art Nouveau periods of design are my favorite and seeing designs in transition between eras, where they’re changing slowly from Victorian to Art Deco to Art Nouveau.

—-Visit VintageLancaster 7 days a week inside BUiLDiNG CHARACTER, rear warehouses at 342 N. Queen St., Downtown Lancaster.—-

—You can find VintageLancaster on etsy by clicking the “VintageLancaster” picture above.—-

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vintagelancaster fan