More than 60 vendors packed the main pool courtyard and adjacent ballroom for the North Side Creator’s Market inaugural Christmas market at the Ramada Fredericton on Nov. 14. Long lineups at the door made way for lengthy wait times for more than 1200 people.
Products ranged from locally made wood crafts and knitted items to Christmas ornaments and baked goods.
Karla MacPherson, co-owner of MacPherson’s Natural Bee Apiary, sold a natural line of lotions, lip balms and honey. The business is located in Tracy, N.B., less than a half-hour away from Fredericton.
MacPherson said she decided to sign up for a booth since there haven’t been many Christmas markets around because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I just like to bring back that joy of having Christmas markets around, the joy of Christmas time and just being able to get together with people again,” said MacPherson. “The fact that people are waiting outside in the cold speaks volumes.”
At the market, the apiary sold hats and shirts to go towards their “Bee The Change” campaign, a collaboration with Habitat for Humanity that started before the pandemic. MacPherson said from every sale, $5 would be donated back to the charity.
“Our bees do so much for us that we want to help as well in our communities,” she said.
For some businesses, community outreach can range from helping initiatives in their own backyard or larger incentives globally.
Hillary MacDonald started her business, LoveyLoch Products, six months ago in honour of her 14-month-old son Laughlin. Her son was born with a rare genetic skin disease called ichthyosis. From every sale of her non-toxic, edible crayons, dough and paint, MacDonald donates $1 to the FIRST Skin Foundation.
“The foundation supports people who have this rare skin disease to get the supplies that they need to manage their skin better,” she said. “It gets very costly to provide these products to make sure their skin doesn’t ache constantly.”
MacDonald said raising awareness about the disease plays a huge role in her business. She said it’s one of the reasons why she decided to host a table at this year’s market, thanks to the event’s large scale advertising and turnout.
“It’s so rare that literally no doctor I’ve ever talked to in New Brunswick has heard of it, let alone knows how to pronounce it,” said MacDonald. “I’m trying to spread the word mostly.”
MacDonald said there has been “a lot of local support” to her new business. She added it wasn’t as difficult as she first thought it would be.
“I thought it was pretty crazy to attempt to start a business in the middle of COVID, but it’s really taken off,” she said.
Whitney Gratton, the owner of The Bath Shack, has been a part of the North Side Creators Market as a board member for nearly three years. Her business, which sells bath bombs, started as a hobby five years ago before moving to full-time last year.
As someone who is self-employed, Gratton said COVID-19 made her go through financial struggle since the North Side Market was forced to close. She said launching a website to take orders online helped her through the lockdown.
Still, Gratton said she was glad to be back to in-person business.
“For our first [Christmas] market here, this is an extremely great turnout,” said Gratton. “A lot of vendors didn’t think this could happen, so now that it’s a big event, I think we’re all extremely blessed to have a craft show.”