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Two virtual spaces for artisans and shoppers alike (5 photos)

A special one-day Sault Handmade Christmas Market and a two-week One Stop Christmas Show are providing virtual events to help support local creators and vendors, as well as opportunities for holiday shoppers to buy local

For Jess Nicholson, a local vendor who is known as “Lily Dots” to her customers, this year has been difficult due to a lack of local arts and craft shows due to precautions around the pandemic.

So Nicholson decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I started a “Sault Handmade” Facebook and Instagram pages this year because as a vendor I was not able to do in-person craft shows like I normally would,” she says.

“I wanted a place to virtually showcase handmade makers in the Sault. I also thought it would be easier for people looking to buy local to find more local vendors all in one area. This led me to starting the virtual market.”

In addition to the Sault Handmade page, Nicholson recently announced the Sault Handmade Christmas Market event would take place on one day only - Saturday, Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“I wanted to make a virtual craft show option for makers that were all local … and handmade,” she says.

“I wanted to make it easy for shoppers and [make it] as much like an in-person event as I could, but online.”

This virtual market is different than other arts and crafts shows in that it has multiple vendors in a short span of time.

“We plan to have each maker in our Christmas Market post a photo album on the Sault Handmade Christmas Market Facebook page,” says Nicholson.

“Shoppers can [then] browse through the albums … in the comfort of their own home.”

To make purchases, shoppers simply have to put the word “take” in the comments below the photo of the item they want. [If they are successful] then the maker of that item will contact them about payments.

Another convenient feature of the market is that all the makers will be delivering their sold items to Nicholson, who will then pack them all up and deliver them to the shopper’s homes on Monday if they are within the city limits. For those who live outside the city, pick up can be coordinated.

All items purchased will be beautifully wrapped with extra care before being delivered.

“Shop all on one page, all local handmade vendors and they don’t have to leave the house,’ laughs Nicholson.  

“I wanted to support locally handmade makers and also make it easy and comfortable for shoppers to shop online.”

Nicholson notes that there was a terrific response to the market and over 30 vendors will be participating in the online event.

“I got some [vendors] excited about a different format in the ideas and especially about the option to deliver to homes. I’m really hoping people like that and shop the event … we have so many amazing vendors, I’m so excited,” she says.

Nicholson notes that there will be a wide variety of locally made item including baby toys, home décor pieces, Christmas ornaments and decorations, soaps, signs, stained glass, pottery, handmade clothes, jewelry, art prints, candles, baking goods, beeswax food wraps, knitted and crocheted items, and face masks. Some vendors will be offering custom items.

Shoppers will be able to browse on the Sault Handmade Christmas Market Facebook page.

There will also be a door prize for shoppers that the makers have all donated to.

Even though this event is fully booked with vendors, Nicholson notes that she is considering hosting an additional market.  

“We’ll see if [this one] goes well [before deciding if] hosting another one could happen.”

She encourages local, handmade makers to send her an email at saulthandmade@gmail.com

“I would love to highlight you on the Instagram and Facebook page after Nov. 24.

After Sault Handmade Christmas Market is over, there will be another online event for those still looking for the perfect locally made gift.

The One-Stop Christmas Show has been a staple of the community for the past five years.

“This is our sixth [consecutive] year,” says Amanda Johnston, who along with Heather Hilderley-Philips is a co-organizer of the event.

“This was always an in-person event, with an auction.”

Johnston says they took out the auction portion of the event which usually consists of items normally donated by local businesses.

“We didn’t want to ask the community given the trying times,” she says.

Like many other activities, this event has also gone virtual.

“We wanted to … [for] our regular vendors have a spot to showcase [and sell] their items safely.”

Johnston notes that the shoppers will find anything from wreaths, candles, tea, stained glass, woodwork, hats and mitts, Christmas bulbs, and much more.

There will be 26 vendors showcased over the thirteen days the event is running.

Two vendors will be highlighted per day alternating one another with posts to showcase their items.

At the online event, the vendors will showcase their items and their business pages and buyers can comment or private message the business directly to make purchases.

“For example, with my own business, I do curbside pickups and usually e-transfers to [ensure there is] no contact,” says Johnston.

One of the unique features of the One-Stop Christmas Show is that the funds that it raises through the vendor fees, as well as from donations, goes to help families in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit and Paediatrics departments at Sault Area Hospital over the holidays.

The money also helps to support the purchase of much-needed, non-government funded items. They have helped purchase sleep chairs, bottle warmers, breast pump machines and much more.

In past years, Johnston and Hilderley-Philips delivered Christmas gifts to children and their parents who were spending the holiday at Sault Area Hospital.

“Every year, we have donated to the families in the hospital at Christmas,” she says.

Johnston understands first-hand the challenge families who have a child hospitalized face, especially at this time of year.

“My co-organizer and myself have been in the hospital with our children and understand it’s hard to be sick, but being sick hospitalized is even harder,” she says.

For anyone interested in donating to their cause will be entered into a draw for a special prize.

The One Stop Christmas Show has been a co-sponsor of Sootoday’s 12 Days of Christmas Random Acts of Kindness in past years, including this episode in 2019.

The One Stop Christmas Show will run from Dec. 1 to the 13. More information can be found on their Facebook page.

The Sault Handmade Christmas Market will only take place on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit their Facebook or Instagram pages for more information.