IMPACT just wrapped up our Holiday Market at Marian Fryer Town Plaza in Wheaton as we closed out the year! The market offered everything you could want for feel-good holiday shopping: festive atmosphere, unique gifts, and of course the opportunity to support micro-entrepreneurs and spend locally.
The market was the brainchild of IMPACT Network Builders Carmen Hernandez and Valerie Salazar. During an interview on the online show En Sintonía con el Concejo del Condado de Montgomery, Carmen shared that the main goal of the market was to “bring the joy of offering customers things that are well made—made with love.” Carmen also highlighted the importance of “allow[ing] housewives an opportunity to contribute to an alternative economy in the county.”
A total of 20 vendors (14 of whom came all three Saturdays) offered a wide variety of gift items and services including handcrafted jewelry, cultural clothing, cosmetics, piñatas, holiday pieces, and more. IMPACT is proud to be able to say that eight of the vendors were graduates of IMPACT’s Entrepreneur Jumpstart training in which we worked to support participants, most of whom are immigrant women and mothers, in learning the basics of starting and growing a small business. The market provided an opportunity for these budding entrepreneurs to bring their products to customers and practice valuable lessons from their training.
One of those budding entrepreneurs is Mayra Solis, a wife and mother originally from Mexico. She explained to us how relieved she was that IMPACT’s Holiday Market didn’t have the usual barriers to entry: “I wanted to join with some of my friends to exhibit my crocheted ornaments and beaded jewelry at other markets, but the vendor fees were too high,” she lamented. Fortunately, Mayra got the opportunity to exhibit all three Saturdays at the IMPACT Holiday Market for free, and, like all the vendors, made sales each day.
Thanks to wonderful partners at Mid-County Regional Services Center and the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (MCDEP), IMPACT was able to use the Marian Fryer Town Plaza (an outdoor venue located in downtown Wheaton directly above the Metro station) for FREE! Ana Ariaza, MCDEP’s Partnership and Engagement Program Manager, explained how the partnership made a lot of sense. “During this time of the year when garbage increases by 5%, we want to encourage people to think about where they do their shopping and what they want to buy. Buying locally helps the economy and the environment.”
By all accounts the Holiday Market was a great success! Carmen shared, “I think everybody was pleased—the vendors and the customers. This is just the beginning.” Plans are now underway to offer additional market opportunities to emerging entrepreneurs at other locations and other times throughout the year. Stay tuned!