WHEATON – After nearly a decade at its current location, the Wheaton Winter Market will soon move to make way for two new downtown businesses.
Starting Saturday, the partnership of area retailers will relocate to 121 W. Wesley St., a house in the heart of Wheaton.
The market was started the winter after the Wheaton French Market was established because several vendors wanted a place to sell their products in the city during the colder months when the outdoor market wasn’t open.
“People were in a panic mode and got used to having my flowers every week. So many people asked where they could get them after the market closed,” said Ari Wise, owner of Ari’s Flowers and one of the creators of the Winter Market.
After its founding, the market occupied different locations every year, including Tate’s Ice Cream and a Thai restaurant, before settling into its most recent and most permanent location at 120 N. Main St. several years ago, Wise said.
Since then, a rotating group of vendors have sold goods Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the winter, often offering their wares to hundreds of shoppers each week.
Last month, the sellers were told by Wheaton property owner Jim Atten their market space had been rented. Atten said a new antique store, Joan’s Place and a second business still negotiating a lease would be moving in.
However, he helped the market find a spot at one of his other properties.
“To move is going to be difficult, but the house is going to be really cute,” said Sue Hehr, owner of market business Seize the Bead. “As long as we advertise, I think people will come looking for the product.”
Hehr said the Winter Market has given her the chance to sell her handmade jewelry and sustain her customer base year round.
Ultimately, Wise said they were all glad to have a place where the market could continue, even if that means it will lose some of its Main Street visibility and familiarity.
“We’re sad to be leaving this place. It’s been our winter home for so many years. But again, Jim has come through for us and we have another place,” she said. “He could have said ‘Sorry, we permanently rented it and bye,’ but at least he’s there for us.”