What do artists, musicians, small businesses, eateries, skateboarders, Santa Claus, and a cannabis dispensary have in common? The need for an audience — one they will all get throughout the month of December at the 2019 Holiday Market Collective.
The market kicked off on Dec. 6 at the BMO Centre — the first time at their new, larger venue. It was the first of three weekends in December, one more than in previous years.
The show is the holiday-themed version of the Market Collective series, which puts on various events throughout the year, in an effort to promote local vendors and creators, who get to keep 100 per cent of the profits they gain.
Angel Guerra started Market Collective in 2008, co-founding the initiative with her friend Angela Dione. According to Guerra, the event has grown substantially over the last 11 years.
“We saw a need for [a] kind of creative space in the city to show and sell your work, and to engage the community, and just have a good time while doing it,” says Guerra.
The holiday market has been a staple of the series since its beginning, as the events moved from place to place across the city. In the past, the Collective made its home in vacant buildings and warehouses, including the Carpenter’s Union Hall in Kensington, eventually settling down at Stampede Park.
“We just got to the point where we were too big, so we had to just use a more permanent space … we’ve probably been in around 10 venues over the last 10 years,” says Guerra.
A variety of attractions, including live performances, games, food trucks, a children’s play area, and a skatepark installation, bring many different people to the collective.
“Events like this … they’re so multi-generational,” says Guerra . “You have kids here and R&B singers and skateboarders and grandparents, and I just really enjoy seeing all of those different groups mesh together and have a good time, because so many places don’t have that diversity.”
Many of the exhibitors at the collective have been coming to these events for years, citing the market as a valuable space for them to showcase their work to a larger audience, and helping to build their careers.
One of these artists is Heather Buchanan, who brought both fine art and pop culture-esque pieces to the collective. The Calgary-based painter has sold works around the world, and is known for her portrait illustrations of the victims of the 2018 van attack in Toronto that appeared in The Globe and Mail.
Buchanan says that the collective has done a lot for her over the years.
“It really helped me realize that I could make a living making art. So that was really a valuable thing for my life, because that’s what I do full-time now.”
Despite scaling back her appearances, Buchanan sets up in many convention-style events in the city, but will always have a special place for the Market Collective.
“Market Collective is my absolute favorite market to do. It’s one of my favorite events in Calgary. It's just so many great people [who] come through, from the other artists and artisans, to all of the customers, who are just like the nicest, raddest people,” says Buchanan.
Another artist selling original work at this year’s collective is Rachael Meckling. Passing her display, you’d know that name even if you hadn’t heard it before, as it is promoted in bold, pink lettering above the booth, complete with plants and colourful neon lights.
“I’m a fashion illustrator, and I studied at Ryerson. And now, I do live portraits and I also continue to print my work and sell them … so I’m kind of expanding quite a bit,” says Meckling .
Meckling is also a regular at Market Collective events, and says that she hopes this one will continue her theme of expansion creatively and that people will see her “as more than a portrait artist.”
“[Market Collective is] very community-driven,” she says. “I’ve always felt super supported here and my own set and career has grown a ton since being a part of these shows.”
Elsewhere on the convention floor are dozens of Calgary businesses that have come to the show. Some are more recognizable, such as Rosso Coffee Roasters and Four20 Premium Market, while others are still looking to get their name out in the city, including Heartprint Threads and The Sunroom Plant Shop.
The Beatnik Bus, a vinyl record shop and exchange on wheels, is also at the Collective. Owner and operator Kristin Poch appreciates the diversity of sellers.
“There’s tons of different vendors,” says Poch. “Vendors from across the province, the country, and it’s a really great community space.”
“[For shoppers] it’s worth your time, and worth the cost, and tons of awesome local vendors for Christmas shopping.”
The collective’s opening day also featured musical acts, including Marcus Trummer Band and Marina Alexis, and food trucks, such as Vegan Street and Perogy Boyz.
So why should people come, according to Guerra?
“I think it’s just awesome to meet some people, have fun, bring your kids, shop local, get to know the people that are making the gifts that you're giving, and just get something really amazing for the loved ones.”
The Holiday Market Collective runs from Dec. 6th to 8th, 13th to 15th, and 20th to 22nd. Admission is $6 for the weekend, and children under 12 get in for free.
- By Noel Harper and Michaela Neuman