Local Etsy vendors are switching their IP address for a physical address this Saturday at Atlantic Place, on Water Street in downtown St. John’s.
A peer-to-peer e-commerce website focusing on vintage and handmade goodies, Etsy knows it had a commanding online presence, so the company has launched initiatives to connect its users, helping them re-create their virtual shops IRL (in real life).
Event organizer Meghan Fahey is this year’s “team captain” of the annual St. John’s Made in Canada (MIC) Market. No stranger to Etsy’s offline goals, Fahey has attended Etsy-sponsored events focused on growing and organizing MIC markets across the country, and was involved with two previous MIC markets in the capital city.
“This is our third year hosting an Etsy: Made in Canada event and we have four vendors who are joining us for the third year in a row,” Fahey said excitedly. “Eight more vendors are participating for the second time, and the remaining 26 vendors are all new to our annual market.”
The 2017 vendor list boasts 38 unique Etsy retailers, all showcasing their crafts across a number of media. The Overcast contacted some of them to learn more about the value of offline markets for online vendors.
“There’s something sociable and fun about a traditional pop-up market that you don’t get online,” Pinpoint Ink’s Pascale Horan explained.
“Shoppers have a chance to physically hold the stuff in their hands, see it with their own eyes, and meet the very person that made it. From the other side of the table, the vendors have a chance to get to know their customers too – it influences the direction you take, for the better. It brings makers and buyers together, which is a rare and valuable thing.”
“The market offers an opportunity to interact with people face-to-face, which is something you miss out on online,” Lauren Bergstrom of Móhu said, unknowingly echoing Horan. “Since last year’s market, we’ve seen an increase in online orders from people living in and around St. John’s, and we’re often able to make arrangements to avoid shipping since they’re nearby.”
That face-to-face experience, said Amy Adams of Amy Adams Printables, helped her overcome her discomfort in dealing with customers.
“I had to swallow down my fears in order to do the market,” she said. “Selling my designs in person was pretty terrifying at that first Etsy market, but the experience has been fantastic and has really helped my confidence grow, as an artist and a businessperson.”
With the market coming up this weekend, organizer Fahey is on crunch time, perfecting all the little details that will be sure to bring this event into its fourth year.
In a province that repeatedly uses “handcrafted” and “homemade” as a ploy to keep tourists thinking we’re “quaint” and that we value our artists, it’s nice to see major companies like Martek, which donated the free use of the venue, actually giving “homemade” a hand up.