by Margaret Armour
“Shop local” has been the rallying cry and sustainer of small businesses for the past 12 months. As the pandemic drags on, however, many entrepreneurs are quickly realizing that things can no longer be business as usual. Finding new ways to reach customers, seeking out fresh opportunities, and partnering with like-minded organizations is the only way to stand out and survive. Merrickville’s Makers Markets are no exception and we wanted to fill you in on some of the exciting happenings within our organization.
Despite the challenges presented by 2020, our fearless leader and inspiration, Laura Starkey of Laura’s Shop, successfully presented two in-person markets in the second half of the year. Our makers were eager for personal interaction, our customers were thirsty for a return to the traditional market atmosphere, and Merrickville was grateful for the safe flow of commerce following what had been a difficult few months.
Laura has been the force behind this group of area artisans, gradually building up a brand and reputation that is known throughout the Ottawa Valley. It was with sadness that we said goodbye to Laura when she announced her retirement from the Makers Markets at the end of the year. But in true Laura style, she did not leave without laying a solid groundwork for leading the Makers Markets into the future.
Since January, we have been working steadily behind the scenes with the intention to bring in-person markets back to Merrickville in 2021. Needless to say, the current COVID-19 case counts and resulting public health restrictions have thrown a small wrench into our plans, but we remain positive and undaunted! Although it is hoped that an early autumn outdoor market and a Christmas market will happen, the usual spring market has had to pivot to a virtual format.
To help with this undertaking, we have partnered with Ottawa Artisans, a savvy e-commerce platform for artisans in the Ottawa area. With their support, Merrickville’s Makers Markets will be doing a website takeover June 10-13. This arrangement makes it easy for our participating makers to put their wares in front of thousands of customers from coast to coast. Furthermore, Ottawa Artisans has generously agreed to provide social media assistance for future in-person markets. It’s an exciting opportunity and we are pleased to be able to help our makers in this way. Watch social media for more information on the virtual market in the coming weeks.
In other news, Merrickville’s Makers Markets now has a website that includes an interactive member directory, plus we recently initiated a “Portrait of a Maker” series on Facebook and Instagram. Both of these steps will help drive business to our makers during times when face-to-face commerce is so difficult.
Merrickville’s Makers Markets welcomes all area artisans who create functional or decorative objects partly or entirely by hand. Membership benefits include: a listing in our online directory; advance booking privileges for our in-person markets at preferred rates; participation in virtual markets; and, access to a private online forum for maker support. The membership application can be found on our website. We hope you will join us!
Merrickville’s Makers Markets are co-ordinated by Robin Hernando (Chatterfield Farm Goat House Shop & Apothecary) and Margaret Armour (Maud & Olive Handmade). Our membership currently consists of over 40 talented area artisans offering a wide variety of hand-crafted items. Please visit www.merrickvillesmakersmarkets.ca if you would like to know more.