Jamie, SP staff in Vancouver, BC, shares how the Strathcona Artisan Market stimulates local economic growth and has grown and developed since its debut last year.
Strathcona Artisan Market (SAM) is an outdoor street market and festival where neighbourhood artists, artisans, and food makers display and sell their work.
The second annual SAM took place on August 4-5, and we were really excited about the growing momentum and community support behind the event.
SAM in numbers:
2 days of market and festival
$17,000 in sponsorships and grants raised to cover market costs
0 vendor stall fees
1000+ event attendees
15 musical performances
4 artist workshops
12 hours of kids art activities
$1500+ in honorariums and wages for neighbours doing workshops, security, and event set-up work
This year we added a ‘Vending 101’ workshop a couple weeks before the market. We invited an experienced local artisan/vendor, Chanel Yu, to share her experience and offer advice to those just getting started. Over 20 vendors attended our workshop, and many vendors actually took tips from that workshop and applied them at the market.
Amber, a candle-maker, attended SAM last year but did not sell well. This year she clearly worked hard to apply some of the tips offered at the ‘Vending 101’ workshop. Chanel explained that the first step to making sales is to get people to engage with your products. In response, Amber diversified her product selection and developed a great pitch to get market attendees to stop at her booth instead of just strolling past. She invited them to smell different candles and even challenged them to identify the scents. Amber came up to me at the end of the second day of the market totally pumped at how well she had done in sales this year!
This year, we also added a Buskers Festival. Last year we had live music, but this year we incorporated music as a major feature of the event. So we built a stage, set up a sound system, and invited musicians from the neighbourhood to perform throughout the course of the market. Our hope was that the Buskers Fest would become a major attraction in its own right, giving a platform for local musicians to reach broader audiences with their music.
SAM 2018 also witnessed the launch of Happy Woman Kitchen, a socially and environmentally-conscious food and kitchenware business started by SP staff Wendy Au Yeung. Wendy is passionate about food and the intersection of food and justice. Wendy and long-time neighbourhood resident Mrs. Kong launched Happy Woman at SAM with an amazing offering of Hong Kong style cold noodle dishes, home made chilli oil, and steaming hot dumplings. Happy Woman has since gone on to booth at several other pop markets in the area, featuring mochi cakes and curried fish balls, as well as hand made cloth shopping bags and reusable wax-cloth food wraps. We are all excited about long-term potential of this social enterprise as an announcement of the kingdom in our neighbourhood!
SAM 2018 was not without its challenges! With a much larger event, we experienced issues with vendor no-shows that we didn’t have to deal with last year, and we also learned that Sunday mornings are very slow for outdoor summer events in terms of attendee traffic. But overall, it feels like God has led us into a great tool to catalyze grassroots economic development in the neighbourhood, and we are excited to see it develop!