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Christmas gift market draws in the crowds to the Harris

Posted on - 3rd December, 2017 - 4:20pm | Author - | Posted in - Christmas, City Centre, Events, News, Preston City Centre
Happy stallholders at this year's Etsy made local market
Happy stallholders at this year’s Etsy made local market

Creatives from all over Lancashire headed down to The Etsy Made Local Christmas Market at the Harris Museum over the weekend – and according to the organisers, it was an unexpected but welcomed success.

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Etsy, in its simplest form, is an online global marketplace for unique and creative goods, and Etsy Made Local is a UK-Wide Market event which celebrates local designer talent by providing makers with an outlet to sell their goods to consumers in person.

The market, which took place on Saturday (2 December) and Sunday (3 December) inside the Harris, was spread over all three floors and saw more than 40 local businesses and creatives setting up stalls to sell their goods to avid Christmas shoppers.

After advertising the event on Facebook, one of the organisers of this year’s Christmas market, Kirsty O’Brien, said that they had been inundated with expressions of interest, not only from those wanting to have a stall at the market, but from the general public wanting to attend too.

Read more: The Harris applies for a permanent alcohol licence

Kirsty said: “We had so many people wanting a stall this year that we could’ve easily filled the Harris four or five times over.

“It’s been so popular and unfortunately we had to let a few sellers down simply because we didn’t have enough space.”

Along with fellow Etsy organiser, Helen Gillespie, and volunteers from some of the creative businesses, Kirsty said they’d put a hell of a lot of hours into planning the event, learning a lot in the process and being able to use their new found knowledge to focus on building the next event.

With around 7,300 local people taking an interest in the market via the Facebook event page, Kirsty, who also owns her own candle-making business, Blenheim Candles, said that they were expecting a huge influx of shoppers across the two days.

The candle stall at the Etsy Made Local market
The candle stall at the Etsy Made Local market

And she wasn’t wrong, as on Saturday alone, Etsy Made Local saw 5,500 people walk through the doors of the Harris to enjoy a bit of browsing and Christmas gift buying.

Among the 40 businesses in attendance were Lloyd’s Chocolatiers, SweetPea Floristry, Pins and Needles, Yellow Sunflower Interiors, Parsy Card Co, Thrift Design, and Textile Candy.
And with everything from gift cards to jewellery, candles to flowers, baby clothing to cushions, and ceramics to soaps, there was something for every arts and crafts lover.

Read more: Harris lottery bid looks back on – but major changes needed

Jo Wilson who owns Pins and Needles Creative Sewing Designs, and had a stall at the market on Saturday, said: “It’s been really busy, lots have people have come along and my notebooks have by far been the most popular item for shoppers.”

Susan Carlow who works for Lloyd’s Chocolatiers said they had sold most of their stock before lunchtime on Saturday: “We’re going to have to go and get more stock because we have to come back tomorrow. We didn’t expect it to be this popular, but it’s been great!”

The candle stall at the Etsy Made Local market
Inside the Etsy Market

And Becky Burns, who runs Textile Candy, a business she only set up two months ago after growing disillusioned with her job in the mainstream fashion industry, said: “Handmade items and gifts are getting bigger and bigger, because people are sick of seeing and buying the same old stuff on the high street.”

With many of the stall-holders also having connections with and selling their items through online gift shop, Not On The High Street, Becky’s sentiments aren’t far wrong, as the unique and individual items on sale at the market were definitely not things you would find in major retail outlets.

Shopper, Tracey Hesketh, said: “I bought some baby grows for my friend’s little one and managed to find something really different; something different to what’s in the shops at the moment.”

Kirsty added: “I’ve had people coming up to me today saying they’ve been waiting months for this event.

“It’s great that it’s local as that’s what we want to do – support local creatives and help them succeed.”

Read more: What we made of the Harry Potter exhibition at the Harris

And with the market enjoying another busy day on Sunday, the success of Etsy Made Local this weekend was definitely something Lancashire, and Preston, can be proud of as it clearly demonstrated the abundance of creative, arty people the region has, and how willing the local communities were to support and encourage these talented designers.

More Etsy markets will be planned for 2018, with information being available via Facebook closer to the time.

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