Considering the City: Made in Erie Marketplace
Do you make a point of buying things that are made in Erie?
According to the American Business Alliance, buying locally "creates more local wealth and jobs." Additionally, the Forbes' Retail blog noted this November that 48 percent of purchases "at local independent businesses" are "re-circulated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores."
This means that when you shop on Upper Peach, instead of investing directly in Erie's economy, you are sending 86 percent of your purchasing power out of town. This "dollar-drain", like the "brain-drain" of Erie's ex-pats, negatively impacts our local economy. Luckily, there is a simple solution to reverse that trend: Start – or continue – buying locally-made products.
Come Black Friday, this will be easy thanks to the Made in Erie Marketplace, held from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Masonic Temple Building, located at 32 W. Eighth St. in downtown Erie.
Last year on Black Friday, Civitas launched the Marketplace to encourage the establishment of a venue for locally produced food, functional objects, and culture in order to showcase the wealth of local talent and to better inject dollars into Erie's economy.
Local crafter Stephanie Westley – who had only been a crafter for a year – attended the 2013 Marketplace, and before leaving, she volunteered to organize the 2014 Marketplace. After high school (General McLane), she earned her undergraduate degree in art history at Edinboro University. While completing her masters in art history in Arizona, Westley sold vintage items. When she returned to Erie, she began creating a line of clothing and accessories available at PACA's bi-monthly Even Craftier fairs.
To make the Marketplace vendor-selection process more efficient, Westley initiated an online application. From the submissions, she selected a group of vendors selling everything from yoga DVDs to handmade soap. Examples of products can be found on the Facebook Made in Erie Marketplace page at Facebook.com/MadeInErieMarketplace.
Some of the 2013 Marketplace vendors are returning including Jessica Stadmueller, Carol Posch Comstock, and Lena Logvina. New Marketplace vendors include: Ali Ford and her Table of Curiosities, Linda Flatley's journals, Pink Cottage Soaps by Janice Fatica, award-winning stuffed animals by Sarah Brown, and sleek furniture by Brian Millspaw. Maddie Fry will offer fiber works from her Drop Spindle Studio and Angela McNair will share her "boutique finds." Additional businesses new to the Marketplace include: A Little Brick House, Conneauttee Creamery, Dragonfly Lake Scents, Exercising Balance, Firekin Studio, Girl with Baggage, Jess and Joann Creations, Rags & Old Iron, and TARA Pottery.
The Erie Mobile Kitchen will return with pizza on International Bakery shells, savory Italian sausage from Bello's Market served on fresh rolls from the West Lake Bakery, and the Kitchen's popular vegetarian quesadilla. New food vendors include Beelzebub with their "outstanding salsa and pickles" and Showman Farms selling cheese and raw honey.
Westley is initiating a theater table to build attendance at local productions. Shoppers will meet Mark Tanenbaum from PACA and Jess Flock from Dramashop. Tickets to upcoming productions at these two venues will be on sale.
In support of another literary art – poetry and spoken word – Westley has invited the Erie County Poet Laureate Cee Williams of Poets' Hall and Chuck Joy to sell chapbooks of their award-winning poetry.
Edinboro University will have a strong presence. Art students and alumni (Alexis Spina, Heather Nuber, Moriah Schreffler, Brian Shuffstall, and others) will offer ceramics, fiber, metal, and wood products including earrings, crockery and cutting boards.
A client from the StARTup Incubator in Edinboro will represent the new Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an affiliate of Edinboro University. Mary Moodey, founder of MarMooWorks will be selling children's products along with Alexandra Carney-Knisely's fiber work, Royce Hilderbrand's ceramics.
A $3 donation gains entry to the Marketplace, where the Nowhere Family Band will be performing their folksy, indie sound. Nowhere's musicians include Optimistic Apocalypse and Andi Wondersound, who will play some of his handcrafted instruments.
The money earned by the individual vendors at the Marketplace is theirs to keep. All of the Marketplace entrance donations will be re-donated to winners of the 2015 Design Excellence Award at the annual Innovation Erie Design Competition held at the Erie Art Museum. The cost of publicity and the Masonic Temple venue are being covered by a generous sponsorship from the Edinboro University Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
Westley hopes that Erie attracts and retains residents "not just because it is cheap to live here" but because creative-types "can make a living." If you want to support living-wage jobs in Erie, buy some locally-made products. A good place to start is at the Made in Erie Marketplace.
Civitas members can be reached at their website www.civitaserie.com, via Facebook at CivitasErie, by emailing Lisa@civitaserie.com, or by scheduling a Friday morning meeting at the Civitas office in the Masonic Building, 32 W. Eighth St.