It may be a Christmas unlike any other, with the gatherings smaller than usual, but we’ll still be getting out to shop for gifts and other supplies – the online version hasn’t supplanted all traditions. As with downtown retailers, market vendors have rolled out safety protocols along with their wares to entice people to come on out.
In St. Jacobs, the market district is giving holiday shoppers an alternative to the usual gift items at the malls by bringing back the Holiday Art Market for a second year.
Some 20 vendors are selling items such as pet toys, food, books, home accessories and the like. The market is offering up shoppers a plethora of different items, while adhering to pandemic rules in place.
This year, because of everything going on, things have changed slightly – including cutting in half the duration to three weeks from six – but the promise is that those who attend will get the same experience they expect from shopping in the market district.
“Last year it was just part of the farmers’ market – so only open Thursday and Saturday – and they had vendors offer sales and decorations. They brought in cooking demonstrations, music, that kind of thing and we couldn’t have any of that this year so this year we opened up an empty space in the outlet mall and invited artisans to have booths, in an art market that runs from Thursday to Sunday for three weeks in December,” said Adrienne Carter of the St. Jacobs Market District. “[Customers who come to the market] will find unique local handcrafted artisan gifts for Christmas. Anything from fudge to dog toys. There’s baby clothes. There’s jewelry, books, masks, knitted clothing. Nice woodworking done. There’s quite an array of artisan items.”
She says because the Region of Waterloo went into the red zone just before the market opened, the setup was not as elaborate as they wished it would be.
Originally, they planned to create a food court outside for customers to enjoy, alongside music and other offerings that simply could not be done because of the rules put in place.
“We were going to build a food court out front of the outlet mall to try to draw attention to the space… but even that wasn’t allowed as we went into the red zone, it made the public health very nervous. [Even though the farmers’ market has food vendors] they follow market rules as a food distributor. So, because this was over at the outlet mall, it was just an added layer of complexity that public health didn’t want to see as we moved into the red zone,” she added.
When customers go to the market to do some shopping, they will see things may be different from last year and will have to follow the rules in place.
Carter says all customers must wear a mask when inside, keep a social distance from others in the market, and follow the “flow of traffic” once they are inside and shopping.
The market runs from Thursday to Sunday at the outlet mall in St. Jacobs (25 Benjamin Rd. E).
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