With the winter season comes everything festive, from music and food to decorations and lights. Ringing in the cold months ahead, holiday markets in Cambridge and Boston allow local businesses to sell their products and shoppers to come together in holiday spirit. Explore the festivities on display and the talented entrepreneurs behind them at some of the best local markets this season.
Cambridge Arts’ Holiday Market
The Cambridge Arts’ Holiday Market, located right in the Smith Campus Center in Harvard Square, features a variety of art vendors selling hand crafted artwork, jewelry, clothing, and more. Featuring live music and a large selection of local vendors, the market will run from December 8 to December 10, from 11 AM to 6 PM each day.
The Market was home to all sorts of business owners selling their products, from artwork to accessories to calendars. Rakel Papke Seixes’s festive stand showcased various Christmas gifts, tote bags, and humorous drawstring backpacks from her business “By Papke.”
Across the room, Laura Quincy Jones was selling greeting cards with watercolor and ink illustrations that she designs. Jones, whose business is named after herself, has participated with the Cambridge Arts Council in open studios for almost twenty years. One of her favorite parts of the Market is meeting people who are interested in art. “Of course, it is important to support your work, but it is really nice to communicate with buyers,” she said.
Daisy Hebb from Green Blossom Painting, who joined the Cambridge Arts’ Market last year, echoed that she also likes selling at fairs because of the interpersonal interactions. She sells calendars which celebrate nature, and she said she loves speaking to people about their relationships with nature at the market. But the engagement with people extends beyond the selling stage. “These calendars are collaborations between myself, the artist, and scientists, like native bee specialists, a professor of entomology, and an herbalist specialist,” Hebb shared.
Lloyd Williams of Boston Custom Cards sells acrylics on canvas, along with holiday notecards. He said conversations with shoppers at markets help guide him on what kind of products people are interested in. “I do a lot of landscapes and cityscapes of Boston, so I figured out that people in Boston like a lot of Boston-related artwork,” Williams explained. The Cambridge Arts’ Market was just one of a few holiday shows he attends every year. Find him on Instagram @varsudan999.
Nestled in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood, Snowport features over 120 local small businesses, food, a tree market, and other essentials. In its second year, this widely popular holiday market transforms Seaport into the perfect destination for holiday shopping or a photo-op.
Simply Placed, owned by Sydney Ortega and located in Beverley, Massachusetts, specializes in home decor, and sells Christmas decorations at the market. “This is our first time here in Boston,” Nancy Foster explained, an employee of Simply Placed. Foster said the holiday market gives Simply Placed good exposure, considering they also sell online, allowing them to expand their customer base. “All of our business cards are gone. People are always asking about us.”
Katie Gogishvili, who sells handmade jewelry in her company MOTTIVE inc., also appreciated the opportunity to gain exposure for her business. She explained she wanted to sell at Snowport because it allows for small businesses such as hers to get attention and recognition. “This is a perfect place for people to find me. Everyday, there are new people who I get to know, and they get to know my brand.” Markets like this help businesses grow, Katie said. “It is important to keep my jewelry in the community.”
While some business owners only had one stand, others ran multiple. The Happy Cactus is just one of several businesses that owner Tucker Gaccione has at Snowport. Donald, an employee at The Happy Cactus, explained they specialize in gift items, such as 1000-piece vintage puzzle sets and butterflies that were sourced ethically from Peru and other South American countries. “The items are beautiful,” Donald said. He said the appeal of markets like this are the foot traffic, explaining he loves seeing customers reacting to the items on sale. “There’s nothing else that could put a smile on my face. We could do online sales, but we lose that people-aspect.”
Yamacu Gift Shop sells African-based products, such as spices, teas, shea butter, snacks, and more. Khalifa, who works for his aunt, explained that his aunt wanted to sell at Snowport due to its popularity. “There are a lot of people [who go to Snowport], so it is a great way to make money.” Khalifa explained that these markets help Yamacu grow, and though it is a lot of work, “being at this kind of market gives exposure, allowing more people to see and try your business. In the long run, it is good for the business.”
Boston Women’s Holiday Market, Brighton
The Boston Women’s Market, co-founded by owners Cara and Africa, is a market made to help support women-owned businesses. The Holiday Market, which runs at a variety of locations on various days, from The Speedway in Brighton and The Station on Boylston Street, features local women-owned businesses selling jewelry, pastries, art, clothing, and more.
Rachel Kashdan sells cupcakes, gingerbread kits, and hand-designed cards in her business “batter+bloom.” Kashdan spoke positively of the Boston Women’s Market. “The organizers, Cara and Africa, are great to work with,” Kashdan stated. “Everyone who sells at the markets are really creative and great people to be around, especially during the holidays.” Kashdan has a lot of fun getting to interact with the community through selling at the market, getting to know people she hasn’t met before, and seeing them enjoy her work, as she is “proud of what she makes.”
Willis & Bell sells handmade clothing and other handmade items. “It would be a great burge of different types of people getting to see all of my items,” Amy, the owner of Willis & Bell said, when asked why she wanted to sell at the market.
Dani, the owner of Best Friend Supplies co., sells dog accessories, including bandanas, bows, and leash sleeves, an “advocacy tool that helps owners advocate for the space for their dog. Dani wanted to sell at the Boston Women’s Market because of the people. “We have a really nice community here. Sometimes as small-business owners, you feel isolated in the way you are alone and making everything,” Dani said. “When you come here, you are amongst a lot of other women who get it. You feel supported, and the markets themselves are very uplifting spaces where you can meet a lot of new people.”
Julia of Celia Jane Designs, named after her daughter, makes handmade jewelry. Julia agreed that the Boston Women’s Market offers a supportive environment for sellers. “This is my third one. [The owners] are great about creating a unique environment for shoppers,” she said. “I am in some stores around the area, but this is the best way to meet and see people.”