The wild, wonderful world of the pop-up market

The wild, wonderful world of the pop-up market

Written by: Julia Perla Huisman
March 14, 2018


I stood at my booth with a smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach as the shoppers began pouring into the building. It was my third time as a vendor at the Hunt & Gather market, but this one felt different. There was a buzz in the air. It was a spring weekend after a long winter, and people were ready to be out of their houses and in a communal environment. They were also ready to shop.

I’ve done enough of these events (Hunt & Gather and Fetching Market, namely) to have picked up on some common themes among the pop-up market scene. These events are about so much more than commerce, although that is a big part of it. Here are 5 things I’ve learned from our local pop-up markets:

1) You don’t have to be an antique junkie to enjoy it. I had sent a group text to my friends inviting them to H&G and one of them replied, “I’m not really into antiques.” I don’t fault her; this is a common misconception. I think people expect it to be a building filled with dusty old furniture. Granted, there are many vendors selling rehabbed pieces that would look awesome in any home. But the merchandise also includes clothing, jewelry, art, and home décor. Plus food, drinks (alcoholic and otherwise) and delicious desserts. And live music from local musicians. It’s like the world’s coolest shopping mall.

2) There’s a rhythm to the crowd. On Friday night when the market opens, the true die-hards stream through the doors, ready to snag the best finds before anyone else. By about the second or third hour, young couples come through with their strollers or toddlers in tow for a family night that usually ends prematurely once the kids hit a wall. Then the young and unattached come rolling in—looking fabulous by the way—for the drinks, leisurely shopping and socializing with friends. The point is, there is a place for all of these people, of all ages, and they are all welcome.

This was my first booth for HERE, at Fetching Market in September 2017.
This was my first booth for HERE, at Fetching Market in September 2017.

I stood at my booth with a smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach as the shoppers began pouring into the building. It was my third time as a vendor at the Hunt & Gather market, but this one felt different. There was a buzz in the air. It was a spring weekend after a long winter, and people were ready to be out of their houses and in a communal environment. They were also ready to shop.

I’ve done enough of these events (Hunt & Gather and Fetching Market, namely) to have picked up on some common themes among the pop-up market scene. These events are about so much more than commerce, although that is a big part of it. Here are 5 things I’ve learned from our local pop-up markets:

1) You don’t have to be an antique junkie to enjoy it. I had sent a group text to my friends inviting them to H&G and one of them replied, “I’m not really into antiques.” I don’t fault her; this is a common misconception. I think people expect it to be a building filled with dusty old furniture. Granted, there are many vendors selling rehabbed pieces that would look awesome in any home. But the merchandise also includes clothing, jewelry, art, and home décor. Plus food, drinks (alcoholic and otherwise) and delicious desserts. And live music from local musicians. It’s like the world’s coolest shopping mall.

2) There’s a rhythm to the crowd. On Friday night when the market opens, the true die-hards stream through the doors, ready to snag the best finds before anyone else. By about the second or third hour, young couples come through with their strollers or toddlers in tow for a family night that usually ends prematurely once the kids hit a wall. Then the young and unattached come rolling in—looking fabulous by the way—for the drinks, leisurely shopping and socializing with friends. The point is, there is a place for all of these people, of all ages, and they are all welcome.

Hunt & Gather December 2017 Market

3) The vendors’ passion for their work is palpable. This is what really makes the markets special. The vendors here are creative, hard-working people who have crafted their wares with their own hands, literally having shed blood, sweat and tears. Just to get ready for the market alone, they spend hours finishing up their inventory, making signs and flyers, packing their cars, carrying heavy items into the building, and setting up their booth in just such a way that will get shoppers’ attention. They spend two days away from their family and on their feet. Then they have to pack up all over again when it’s over. They go through all of this to share their beloved craft with the world and hopefully make some money to support it, a rather vulnerable thing to do. So the next time you’re at a market and you approach a vendor that looks a little nervous and over-eager, keep this in mind.

4) It truly is about community over competition. Some of the sectors at these markets—jewelry and furniture in particular—have several vendors, meaning technically they compete with each other. But the general vibe is that they’re all there to support each other. This means buying from each other and guiding shoppers to the competitor’s booth if they have something the original vendor doesn’t carry. I’ve never seen anything like it in any other industry. It’s proof that there’s room for all of us, and supporting others only benefits everyone.

5) It’s a place where the quirky and artsy have a home. You sell Alice in Wonderland-style fascinators? Art made with real live insects? Rehabbed chicken coops? Come on in! Artists have a difficult enough time getting the word out about their art, so markets like these are a breath of fresh air. Not only can they share their work but they’re sharing it with hundreds of people who get it. This is a rare and wonderful thing. And it applies to wardrobe too.

Hunt & Gather December 2017 Market

3) The vendors’ passion for their work is palpable. This is what really makes the markets special. The vendors here are creative, hard-working people who have crafted their wares with their own hands, literally having shed blood, sweat and tears. Just to get ready for the market alone, they spend hours finishing up their inventory, making signs and flyers, packing their cars, carrying heavy items into the building, and setting up their booth in just such a way that will get shoppers’ attention. They spend two days away from their family and on their feet. Then they have to pack up all over again when it’s over. They go through all of this to share their beloved craft with the world and hopefully make some money to support it, a rather vulnerable thing to do. So the next time you’re at a market and you approach a vendor that looks a little nervous and over-eager, keep this in mind.

4) It truly is about community over competition. Some of the sectors at these markets—jewelry and furniture in particular—have several vendors, meaning technically they compete with each other. But the general vibe is that they’re all there to support each other. This means buying from each other and guiding shoppers to the competitor’s booth if they have something the original vendor doesn’t carry. I’ve never seen anything like it in any other industry. It’s proof that there’s room for all of us, and supporting others only benefits everyone.

5) It’s a place where the quirky and artsy have a home. You sell Alice in Wonderland-style fascinators? Art made with real live insects? Rehabbed chicken coops? Come on in! Artists have a difficult enough time getting the word out about their art, so markets like these are a breath of fresh air. Not only can they share their work but they’re sharing it with hundreds of people who get it. This is a rare and wonderful thing. And it applies to wardrobe too.

Last Friday at H&G, I wore a big pink fluffy coat, something too extravagant to wear anywhere else, and received endless compliments about it. You’ll see people with head-to-toe tattoos, elaborate piercings, and hairstyles in all colors of the rainbow. It is a delight to be in the company of those who not only express their art in their appearance but are appreciated all the more for it.

When I created HERE magazine, I did so with the pop-up market crowd in mind. I made this for them, and to invite the rest of our community into this wonderful world. If you haven’t been to a market yet, I encourage you to try the next one. Click on the following links for dates of my three local favorites: Hunt & Gather, Fetching Market and Three Little Birds. Try it out and support some artisans. You’ll be so glad you did.