Worried about what you’re going to get Mom and your brother for Christmas because of the supply chain issues? Tired of sending your money to Amazon? Heather Black and Emma Lewis McBride have just the solution.
On Dec. 4, Black and McBride will be gathering more than 40 local business owners together at The Venue of Main and the Safford theater two doors down for their next Gila Valley Hometown Market event.
The pair have held roughly eight similar events since last year. During the latest one Nov. 6, Shoppers had plenty to choose from — clothing for all ages, soaps made of goat’s milk, herbs, books, home decor, baked goods and more.
“They’re really a celebration of small businesses and the community,” Black said.
While there are a few vendors from Snowflake, Benson and Mesa, the vast majority of them have ties to the Gila Valley, she said. The rest of the entrepreneurs actually live and work here.
Black, who is a woodworker, and McBride, who creates soap, came up with the idea right before the pandemic struck.
“It was like this party that I was planning and it kept getting pushed back and pushed back,” Black said. “I kept hyping it and when we were finally able to hold our first one it was a huge success.”
At the beginning of every market, the pair hand out “swag bags” filled with items from each of the vendors and give them out to those first in line, she said.
“Usually when we open the doors there’s a long line of people waiting around the building,” Black said.
Putting on the events brings her a lot joy because “shopping local is my biggest passion,” she said.
“It’s really happy dance excitement level,” when she’s preparing for the market, she said.
“This event rallies support for local businesses,” Black said. “When you shop online you don’t see the face behind the business and you can’t get to know them.”
Shoppers at the market develop relationships with the vendors and that often turns into additional sales for the business owners after the market, Black said.
“Our local vendors put a little piece of themselves in their products, they’re not not just trying to make a buck,” she said.
The market scheduled for Dec. 4 will feature Christmas-themed items and Santa will be available for pictures.
“The theme is ‘I’m dreaming of a local Christmas,’” Black said.