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Calgary’s Market Collective returns with unique locally made items

One of Calgary’s largest markets for local artisans and makers is back this spring, with a renewed focus on supporting the local economy and giving people a few more interesting options ahead of Mother’s Day.

Market Collective is returning to the BMO Centre from April 14 through 16, with a more curated shopping and entertainment experience for visitors.

New this year to Market Collective is the MC Arcade, which will have pinball and classic arcade games for visitors to play. Local Calgary performers and musicians are also back this year, with an increased emphasis on Indigenous performers.

“Indigenous performers are such a huge part of what market is now,” said Everett Tetz, director of communication and community partnerships for Market Collective.

“This is one of the few places you can go, you can support your local economy, you can feel good about where your money is going, and you can find one of a kind items for the people you care about it.”

Tickets are $7 for the weekends, and kids under 12 get free entry.

A collection of Eastern Pennants, during a preview of Market Collective, in Calgary on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

A curated shopping experience

Tetz said that as part of the recovery from the pandemic, Market Collective is helping small businesses, many of whom were founded as a result of the pandemic.

“There are so many small businesses that have come out of Covid, and brand new businesses to the city of Calgary,” Tetz said.

“It’s definitely a difficult process to curate these events, just because we have so many applicants, but that does give us the opportunity to choose some of the best of the best.”

Among those businesses that came out of the pandemic, and will be showcasing their unique work at the market is Eastern Pennants.

Christiane Molina-Lenek, the founder of Eastern Pennants, said that she created the company to provide high-quality limited run designs.

Molina-Lenek was on the front lines of the pandemic working collecting post-mortem data for New York State before she moved to Canada with her husband after her job ended.

“We were getting married in June in Canmore, and I really wanted a wedding pennant but the company that I love, the turnaround time, the price, it was a lot,” said Molina-Lenek.

“The detail I wanted was way out of my budget and I’m like ‘I’m gonna learn how to do this and I’m gonna do it my own way and I’m gonna make put my own stamp on it.'”

She said that for her own work, she prefers a very particular style that makes the limited-run pennants she produces look like they’ve got history to them.

“I want to make it look like I invented this, and I’ve been doing it forever,” Molina-Lenek said.

Molina-Lenek said that she started working with Market Collective after talking to other makers following a poor showing at another local market.

“I met some other great vendors and one of the first things they said was Market Collective, so I gave it a shot and I got in and it not only was great business, but I made some really great connections and I actually felt so welcomed by the community.”

A life change

Kate Husted, who will be selling her custom-made ceramics at Market Collective, said she started her ceramics business after desiring a change—returning to the activity she found therapeutic in university.

“I was studying sociology and anthropology. So, I was spending a lot of time in front of my laptop and reading and writing, and I just felt a real need to do something with my hands, which I think is often what drives people to find ceramics,” Husted said.

“Funnily enough, it ended up being kind of the thing that has stuck with me most consistently. So, I just decided quite recently to try and turn it into a business and try and make a living off of it.”

She said that she decided to participate in Market Collective because of how well it connects makers and artisans to customers.

“I feel like the people that come really value locally made things and high-quality things, so I think it’s going to be great,” Husted said.

“I’m really new in business, so it means so much to me that I can participate in something like this. It’s very validating, it’s very encouraging, which I imagine most small business owners need in the first couple years of business.”

One of the unique items that she creates is spherical jars—something that has taken a lot of work to perfect because of how technically challenging they are to create.

“I throw them on the wheel as a single closed form and then cut them in half so that the top kind of drops into the bottom,” she said.

“And because I throw them as a single closed form, they make a really nice kind of cohesive palm-size jar that just is very tempting to pick up and touch. And I think they’re really special.”

She said that they make great gifts because of how unique they are.

For a full list of vendors and details for the Spring Market Collective, see marketcollective.ca/events/spring-mc/.