The bazaar season is in full swing, and you might be surprised by how many downtown players can be found in the frenzy.
The Holiday Marketplace at the Carlson Center was a case study in downtown outreach, vendor recruitment, and the breadth of individual retailers and crafty folks that come downtown throughout the year. We’re happy to see these friends of downtown spread across the city, and hope you take the chance to connect with brick-and-mortar retailers or independent vendors from the Downtown Market when you see them at a holiday bazaar. If you’re a business owner, you may even use these events to create hype for your own store/restaurant and downtown in general.
Here’s the behind-the-scenes scoop on the many ways downtown Fairbanks interacts with holiday bazaars:
BUSINESS & PRODUCT OUTREACH
Though bazaars tend to feature crafters and artists, businesses can register and use the forum to reach new clientele. Downtown businesses or programs represented at the Holiday Marketplace included The Fudge Pot, Chartreuse, Julia’s Solstice Cafe, Alaska Rag Company, and Fairbanks First.
The Fudge Pot participates in the Holiday Marketplace each year, and staffs a fudge stand during many Carlson Center events including Nanook hockey games. Bobbi McLean, an employee, says the shop uses bazaars and special events as an extra push during the tourism off-season. The Fudge Pot sold holiday-themed products like decorated apples dipped in chocolate and mix-and-match holiday tins of fudge.
“It was a really good weekend for The Fudge Pot,” Bobbi reports. “Being at the show reminds people that we’re here and several people have come in to have holiday tins made up after seeing us at the Marketplace.”
Julia of Julia’s Solstice Cafe was selling Diving Duck coffee at the Marketplace, but also ended up taking orders for vegan holiday meals after talking with folks about her restaurant and knack for accommodating special diets.
“We got a lot of exposure,” Julia says. Diving Duck had a booth at the Tanana Valley Fair this past summer and Julia says several people who first tasted the coffee at the fair stopped in to the Marketplace and were happy to find the coffee again. Julia reminded them the cafe is open all year long.
Because of the expense, Julia would recommend opting for a smaller bazaar (she plans to do A Women’s Affair in spring) or teaming up with another vendor or business to split the cost.
Sheri, owner of Chartreuse, was approached by several vendors who sell soaps and jewelry through her store on consignment. They wanted a booth at the Marketplace but couldn’t afford the high cost. Sheri used Chartreuse to help defray the expense, and three vendors staffed the booth for her all weekend. Each made a profit, though Sheri’s biggest success was wandering through the Marketplace and finding a bright new artist with whom she hopes to contract for sales in her shop.
Sometimes, products found at local bazaars are also carried by downtown retailers. Sarah Holm of Fish Head Studio crafts beautiful fused glass serving plates, dishes, and jewelry. Though you might have met her at the Holiday Marketplace, a selection of her work is available at If Only… a Fine Store all year round.
MARKET AND MIDNIGHT SUN VENDORS
It’s no surprise that Downtown Market and Midnight Sun Festival vendors are selling around town this time of year. Fans of Alaska’s Angels Farm, Aronson Designs, TNT Seasonings, Alaska Wilds, Earth Link Jewelry, Carpe Diem Creations/Smiling Planet Felt, and Tundra Walker Studio (all from the Market) can find these vendors at many of the Fairbanks bazaars. Bigger events like the Holiday Marketplace attract Midnight Sun Festival vendors who live in Anchorage and aren’t always in town. Over the weekend, we spotted Miche Bags, Jerky Hut, Charms by CJ, Art Glass by Sarah Chatfield, Alaska Girls Kick Ass, and others from the Festival.
Kara and Amy walked through rows of vendors at the Holiday Marketplace to scout out potential new names for the 2012 Downtown Market and Midnight Sun Festival. Business cards, Kara’s iPhone, and quick hellos helped us compile a brief list of candidates. Vendor relationships fostered at this time of year can turn into a cool new craft or printmaker in the Plaza on Mondays next summer. We left with the names of a half dozen prospects, whom we look forward to contacting once sign-ups are back up for the Festival and the Market.
Downtown does, in fact, host a few bazaars of its own, and they kick off this weekend:
- Tanana Chiefs Conference Christmas Bazaar– Friday, November 18th
9am-6pm in the Chief David Salmon Tribal Hall
featuring nearly 50 vendors offering arts, crafts, refreshments, and massages.
- Black Sunday Bazaar– Sunday, November 27th
11am-5pm at Julia’s Solstice Cafe
featuring handmade jewelry, clothing, crafts, and delicious food.
- Holiday Art Bazaar– Friday, December 2nd and Saturday, December 3rd
5-8pm (Fri) and 10-3pm (Sat) at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center
featuring prints, jewelry, knitwear, paintings, and handcrafted gifts.
(Food and drinks available on Friday night)
And remember- when you come downtown for a bazaar, you’re on the doorstep of dozens of boutiques, clothing stores, and restaurants. The parking garage is rolling out free midday parking (11am-2pm, M-F) beginning this Monday and running through the holidays.