A pilot open air market allowed Prince Rupert vendors the opportunity to display their wares to an international audience this past weekend.
The Trading Coast Market took place outside Hecate Strait Employment Development Society in Cow Bay on Saturday, Sept. 22. Hecate Strait partnered with Ecotrust Canada’s North Coast Innovation Lab (NCIL) and Community Futures Pacific Northwest to give fledgling businesses a platform.
“It shows off the talent and ingenuity that we have here,” said Shauna Wouters, chief administrative officer for Hecate Strait Employment Development Society. “There’s so much uniqueness about our community and this helps to show it off. It’s like putting on your best face and the Rupert smile.”
Hundreds of residents and tourists — many of whom were passengers aboard the cruise ship Seabourn Sojourn — streamed into the market throughout the morning and afternoon to explore the many crafts, clothing and jewelry on display. Wouters said it was huge for the vendors to interact with their customers this way.
“We have so many local artisans, whether it’s in Prince Rupert or from outlying communities, that don’t get a lot of opportunity to reach the world with their products and if we can do things on cruise ship days, we have the ability to reach a world market as well as our local people,” she said.
The event was also an opportunity to get feedback and gauge interest in hosting more open markets in the future.
“This is really important for getting a bunch of like minded artisans together and business owners and the like and showing them that this is doable,” said Tyler Portelance, of Hecate Strait. “The main thing is showing that people will come out. If you build it, they will come and I think we’re proving that.”
Wouters said shoppers were given surveys to find out how much was actually being spent so that the economic benefits of the market could be quantified.
She added that there would also be a feasibility report created based on both the feedback from customers and the business in Cow Bay to see whether more open markets would be welcome in the future.