Please make it one of your end-of-year commitments or new year’s resolutions to check out the independent market movement growing in St. Catharines. This creative community has significantly expanded over the past year, offering options, not only for consumers, but for new artists, makers, and vintage vendors to pursue their passions.
With larger markets and pop-ups happening at locations throughout downtown, you are bound to connect with a local creator and/ or vendor who steals your heart. Beechwood Doughnuts, Fine Grind Cafe, Mahtay Cafe & Lounge, Warehouse, Small Batch Co., Garden City Essentials, and keepgood co. are some of the venues bringing local work, and offering space to the community of artists leading opportunities in the downtown. With a strong background in supporting independent vendors, with spaces like the Craft Arts Markets, the Niagara Flea Market, and the Niagara Artists’ Centre Vintage shop, the opportunities for investing local entrepreneurship have drastically increased, all shaped and lead by the artists selling their work at these markets.
What the growing market movement offers are opportunities lead by younger artists, makers, and vendors to develop options that respond to clear supply of creative people within our community. In organizing the first Maker’s Market at Fine Grind, Mazie Bishop (@cozy.bones), owner of Cozie Bones, explained that her “vision was to put together a market that put makers first”. The clear demand for this type of space was immediately embraced, as she shares, “I put [the call for vendors] up online and within half an hour I had over 18 vendor applicants”. This clear demand has since grown and created networks within this generation of creative business owners.
The power of creating representation of community support and success was shared by local illustrator and market co-organizer, Martina Kudumija (@martinadoom), highlighting that “we have people coming all the time who want to get into this but don’t know how. And they are seeing all these young people doing it. I wish I had that when I was growing up”. Kudumija also noted the power of the community connection in this work, in that patrons of the markets are able to see vendors that “are completely self-made, some of which never went to school, some did. [It] makes it more achievable to see a real person and hear a real story”. Abbigale Carr (@galesvintageclothingcollection), owner of Gale’s Vintage Clothing Collection, and the organizer of Warehouse Flea: Vintage Market, explains “that when young people come to the Warehouse Flea and some other markets… they really get inspired to do something like their own business themselves and get involved”. Everything from online applications to rotating vendors and a wide range of social media use has created evolving and growing chances for new people to get involved.
By creating increased opportunities for local artists, makers, and vintage vendors, these organizers are drastically expanded the options for consumers. Rae, (@spitandshine), the creativity behind Spit and Shine: Vintage thrifts and handmade art, and co-organizer of No Dough Pop-Up Market explained that “you don’t have to go to Walmart to get your favourite shirt or you don’t have to spend $200 on some brand name clothing”. With vendors coming from our communities throughout Niagara, the range of options and personalities in these forms of art offers a wide range of options. Rae spoke to the impact offering options to “accommodate people who may not have the best time in any store”; Noting their commitment to offer plus-size clothing that fit styles across genders, as offering essential choices for customers, and in turn getting positive feedback when people see the commitment to that work.
While buying the work of these artists remains the most obvious option for supporting this work, all of the organizers shared that there are a broad range of ways to support the growing creative community. For folks engaged online, social media and online shops, such as Instagram, Etsy, and Depop all offer web-based options for support. Carr explains that “every like, comment, tag and share makes my day as a vendor”. On these platforms, you can also see the wide range of artists connected to this work, and find pieces that you may not find on the occasional visit to Value Village. Rae shares how in addition to the markets, their use of online sales has resulted in customers broadening their views of their own fashion, commonly stating “I wouldn’t normally wear this, but because I saw it on your shop, I was like ‘this is awesome, I’ve got to have that’”.
Kudumija shares that for folks who come to the markets, showing up and looking around has a positive impact. And even where you can’t spend money, if you can, take the time to tell a vendor you enjoy their work and take their card. Showing appreciation, even when you are not able to spend money, creates a narrative of validation and highlights the power of community support. Rae notes coming by the markets also creates another option, as it “gives more families in St. Catharines and the Niagara region something to do. A community space”. This impact creates a powerful cycle where an increased number of generations are able to connect and see young artists and creatives leading the way and developing a new narrative around a strong community-driven form of business and success.
Kudumija also explained that the markets offer a “good opportunity for smaller businesses to get involved”. It’s good for the business because people are coming and seeing that they are contributing to the community rather than just selling them stuff or providing whatever service they have. Bishop shared how Rob MacIntosh, owner of Fine Grind was such a vital player for allowing use of his space for the first Maker’s Market a year ago. This now-regular market not only brings people to Fine Grind, but through a commitment to local business it has been able to offer vendor tables free of charge to increase the accessibility of options for artists.
The community connections have since been taken one step further, with the markets offering a connection between local businesses and community service organizations. Bishop explained that at the Handmade Halloween Market, hosted at Warehouse in October, organizers were able to promote local organizations through donations that were raffled off, with profits going to Ralphy’s Retreat Farm Animal Sanctuary. This form of giving back to the community sits at the core the market movement’s commitments. In February, Rae is working on a Valentine’s Day Market at Warehouse, where with the pay-what-you-can (PWYC) entry, profits will be going to the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre.
Whether you are checking the markets out as a customer, or are yourself interested in getting involved as a potential vendor or are a local business interested in utilizing your space to support this work, please get contact with these organizers and take time to explore the wide range of work and investment put into the transformative power of the growing market movement.
Upcoming markets to check out:
Saturday December 8, 2018 | Winter Open House at 108 River Road, Welland | 1pm-4pm
Questions? Contact Abbigale Carr (@galesvintageclothingcollection)
Saturday December 15, 2018 | The Warehouse | 11am-8pm.
Questions? Contact Martina Kudumija (@martinadoom) or Markie Keddy (@slowgather)
Sunday December 23, 2018 | Shop Small Gifts Markets at Fine Grind Cafe |12pm-5pm
Questions? Contact Mazie Bishop (@cozy.bones)
Sunday January 20, 2018 | The Warehouse Flea: Vintage Market | 12pm-5pm
Questions? Contact Abbigale Carr (@galesvintageclothingcollection)
Sunday February 3, 2019 | Valentine’s Day Market at The Warehouse | 12pm-8pm
Questions? Contact Rae (@spitandshine)