Lately, several people have commented on how excited they are that my markets are finally back. Newsflash: they both reopened last June. Albeit, with a very limited exhibitor list and extreme social distancing in place at the start. I still brag that I may have been the first event coordinator to give everybody a corner booth!
What I find surprising about the welcome back comments is there are more outdoor markets today than I have seen in the 17 years I’ve been in this business. You’re likely to pass one coming or going on any weekend and some weekday afternoons.
1st Saturday and Sawyer are focused solely on art and the maker is the seller, respectively. The maker is the seller is a very literal phrase meaning the person you are talking to, made the product they are selling.
Who better to get a feel for the new markets and their impact than the exhibitors that attend my markets? I asked both groups if the influx of new markets is a benefit to their business and if the new markets a good thing or not and why?
Clifton Gillock is cofounder of Kicpops, gourmet popsicles. Kicpops got its start at outdoor markets and has been expanding ever since. kicpops.com
“The influx of new markets definitely has its pros and cons,” Gillock said. “One of the benefits is attracting new customers to the “market industry.” For our business, it is absolutely critical to have public vending opportunities available on a weekly basis. However, with that said not all markets are created equal. I personally won’t take chances with new markets unless I am absolutely certain there is a team or individual behind the market curating a lineup of unique experienced vendors as well as doing their own PR and marketing to drive good attendance.”
Heather Wobbe is a full-time jeweler and can attend the different types of markets and likes the options.
“As someone who completely relies on markets to make a living I love having weekly options,” Wobbe said. “Yes there are quite a few popping up but there are some great ones out there that are very helpful to people like me trying to survive a pandemic on a single full-time artisan income. I rarely see more options as a bad thing but it can be difficult navigating all of the different locations if you haven't done your research.”
Tina Couet creates stained glass décor, find her on Facebook as SunshineSunbeams.
“I have found going to events weekly and being ‘open’ is best for me,” Couet said. “I go to different locations in a 150-mile radius. That way I don’t saturate any area.”
“All the new markets popping up, are bad, especially in a small area (Heights). Customers are confused by the different types of markets, so when they get to a quality art market, they have sticker shock and want farmer market prices.”
John Delafield is a ceramic artist and asks questions before signing up for a new market. Find him on Facebook as delafieldpottery.
“Each market is different and runs differently,” Delafield said. “What is the motive of the organizer? Are they wanting to bring something special to the community? Are they wanting to sell spaces to vendors? City or community organized events have good motives in my experience. Church events are very limited in who attends. Farmer's markets are a mixed bag. Art markets attract the right patrons for me. I'm always interested in a market but I am skeptical of new markets until they prove themselves to the vendors.”
Saurabh Kajaria co-owns Trishna Tea with his wife, they make hand blended tea grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. trishnnatea.com
“New markets are a great launchpad for small businesses to test out their products and concepts,” Kajaria said. “The caveat - running a market is no child’s play… the hot 100˚ days and the thunderstorms challenge our resolve on quite a few occasions throughout the year … thanks to HTX weather.”
Search social media to find new markets near you. This Saturday is a rare makeup date for First Saturday Arts Market, rained out on May 1. The danger of naming a market after the date. 530 W. 19th St., with details on the website, 1stSatArtMarket.com.
Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com for additional highlights and artist’s stories.