New event makes downtown Batavia a destination
|Shoppers and vendors are shown at the first Artisan Collective event at Pal Joey's.|
Members of the Batavia business community are keenly aware how the economic vitality of their downtown does not compare to the retail liveliness of some nearby downtowns.
However, organizers with Batavia MainStreet, a nonprofit focused on the economic development of downtown, have noticed people increasingly do want to shop local if they have the opportunity.
In response, MainStreet organizers created the Artisan Collective, a market where local artists, crafters and other vendors can sell their items in a different location in the city once a month.
“With a lack of concentrated retail in downtown Batavia as well as an increase in the trend of supporting and shopping local businesses in the past few years, I thought that this idea could really fill a niche,”said Jamie Saam, a MainStreet board member who spearheaded the creation of the Artisan Collective.
“There are so many people blessed with amazing talents that don’t have an outlet to display and sell their creations. That is the main purpose of the Artisan Collective.”
The first Artisan Collective was held in November at Pal Joey’s Restaurant.
“I thought they did a really good job,” said Cherry Countryman, manager at Pal Joey’s. “There were a lot of people up and down the stairs. It brought a lot of foot traffic.”
However, she said she doesn’t know if the increased number of visitors necessarily led to an increase in profits at the restaurant.
Joi Cuartero, director for MainStreet, estimates the event at Pal Joey’s brought more than 100 guests.
Besides helping increase traffic at the businesses that host the Artisan Collective, Cuartero said the event helps create a downtown destination.
“Downtown does not have a true retail corridor,” Cuartero said. “This provides an opportunity to shop.”
She said nearly 20 vendors sell everything from handmade jewelry, clothing, decorative pillows to books by local authors.
Mari Fasshauer makes and sells her lye-based handmade soaps at the Artisan Collective.
She sells her soaps at a farmers’ market, but said the Artisan Collective allows her to sell during the winter.
“I think Batavia is a perfect area and it’s a perfect time to celebrate local artisans,” Fasshauer said.
She helped push the idea of the Artisan Collective forward through conversations with Saam.
Fasshauer said she’s feeling a growing vibe from Batavia area residents who want to shop local and support local business endeavours.
She’s been selling her soaps for three years in the area and said business has increased every year.
Cuartero said vendors have been coming to the Artisan Collective via word-of-mouth.
“A lot of the artisans know each other,” Cuartero said. “That’s been pretty organic. We haven’t really had to seek out people.”
Property owners also have been coming forward with offers to host the Artisan Collective.
“I am also being approached by numerous Batavia businesses as well as owners of empty storefronts to host the Artisan Collective at their location,” Saam said. “Another great benefit of this event is that we are not only giving a home to local artisans and creatives, we are displaying businesses and property that people may not frequent or may not otherwise have the opportunity to see.”
Cuartero said they would like to keep the Artisan Collective downtown, but might reconsider given that some of MainStreet’s partners such as representatives at K. Hollis Jewelers on Randall Road also have expressed interest in hosting the event.
Saam envisions a permanent home for the Artisan Collective in the future.
“I think it has the potential to increase in frequency and then possibly finding a consisent home somewhere in our downtown,” Saam said. “I visualize a retail store similar to an antique shop where you have multiple vendors selling in one location with a rotating stock of items, but with handmade creations, artwork and epicuean goodies.”
If you go
What: Artisan Collective
When: 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17
Where: The Dock at 150 First Street
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