The holiday shopping season has begun in earnest, but opportunities to shop locally and in-person are limited for many this year due to COVID-19 precautions.
Those who are seeking ways to support local businesses and vendors while avoiding risks of coronavirus exposure will have an opportunity to shop this weekend at the twelfth annual Mistletoe Market, hosted by Glynn Visual Arts.
The two-day event is planned for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Postell Park in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island. The outdoor market will include 50 vendors who will sell their handmade wares, including pottery, jewelry, sculpture, photography, woodworking, baskets, fabric and mixed media.
“We’ve got 50 vendors, we’re sold out,” said Terri Evans, executive director of GVA. “But we are limited to 50 because of COVID restrictions.”
New this year will be “take & make” art kits sold by GVA, in place of the usual children’s art table at the event.
“We still wanted to engage children with an activity that they can do at home on their own, and these are origami Christmas cards they can make,” Evans said. “They’re just wonderful pieces of pure creativity. But also, as you might imagine, we want to ensure when GVA is selling something at Mistletoe Market that it is not something that one of our vendors is selling, because we’re there to support them and to help them have a safe and successful festival.”
Supporting artists is at the heart of the market’s mission, said Jackie Archer, operations manager for GVA.
Following the Art Under the Oaks event in September, GVA staff received feedback from numerous artists who said the opportunity to sell their work there kept them afloat through this rough year.
“They were so grateful that we were able to hold our art festival because many of them have not been able to sell their work because of COVID, because of the shutdown,” Archer said. “They rely on the festivals and art fairs as a way to sell their work and get it out to the public. Several of them came up to me and said that because we’d had our festival in the fall they were actually going to make it. They were going to be able to survive as artists.”
GVA intends to offer that opportunity again with the Mistletoe Market, which Archer said sold out of vendor slots quickly.
“We’ve got a wonderful array of artists,” she said. “I’ve got a furniture maker who makes hammocks and furniture from wood. I’ve got jewelry artists, pottery. There’s some homemade chocolates that are going to be there, kettle corn.”
The products are all handmade by the artists manning the booths, she said.
“This is not something where they’re reselling from somewhere else,” Archer said. “They’re neat, one-of-a-kind things, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for people here in this community to support artists and to also get some great Christmas presents.”
One new vendor this year will be an artist who makes prints from fish, through a traditional art form called Gyotaku.
“Actual, real fish,” Archer said. “He runs the ink over the fish and lays the print over the top of it, and it’s really cool.”’
The Holiday Hound Hike parade will not take place this year.
COVID-19 precautions in place at the event will include the limited number of vendors, who will be spaced out in the park, as well as insistence that attendees where masks and social distance.
“All of our vendors will be wearing masks as well as GVA personnel and volunteers,” Archer said. “Also, hand sanitizer will be at every booth, and vendors will be periodically cleaning their booths as customers have come through.”
An outdoor festival provides a chance to shop while staying spaced out from others in an open environment, reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread.
“It’s the opportunity for people to be able to support artists and small business, a local business, and still get unique gifts that they can then ship to their family and friends,” Archer said. “… Outdoors, it’s a safer opportunity for people to participate and support local businesses and artists.”