Face-to-face connection of Greensburg Holiday Market gives artisans a boost

As soon as the Greensburg Holiday Market started Sunday, Allison Mullen had customers.

They fawned over her laser-etched coasters and handmade wooden decorative pieces before settling on a purchase. Meeting customers and learning about what products they want is one of the best aspects of participating in the market, she said.

“The customization is fun,” said Mullen, who operates Black River Arts from her home in Derry Township. “They give me ideas of what they’re looking for.”

She doesn’t have a storefront and neither does Danette Freeman of Danos Towels & Gnomes, so the exposure gets their creativity into the eyes, and hands, of potential buyers.

“The markets are wonderful, and you meet people. You get friends,” said Freeman of Greensburg.

Community pop-up markets in which dozens of small businesses set up tables and tents to sell their wares have increased locally in recent years. The events typically bring in hundreds of shoppers, which, in turn, can benefit local businesses with storefronts. Many of the vendors participate in similar markets throughout the area.

The Greensburg Holiday Market is hosted by the Downtown Greensburg Project which also holds monthly night markets on South Pennsylvania Avenue though they are moving indoors for the cold weather months. Shortly after the holiday event opened Sunday morning, the room at Live Casino Pittsburgh in Hempfield was packed. Shoppers stopped by old favorites and learned about products they hadn’t seen before.

Even though Wicks & Wax Studio has a storefront on Main Street in Greensburg, participating in the Holiday Market is important because it gets the word out, said owner Hannah Toski-Thompson. In the past, people who made a candle purchase at a market then visit the studio where customers can design their own scented candles.

“A huge part of it is also exposure for the business and what we offer,” she said.

It helps customers see a face connected with a business, she said. Freeman and Mullen agreed. More sales come from markets than Black River Arts’ website, Mullen said.

Freeman helped a flurry of customers in between crocheting dish towel holders to replenish stock. Buyers walked away with decorative gnomes, including some of which double as plastic bag holders. She also sells koozies for hot dishes, among other items.

The markets give businesses from out of town an opportunity to expand their reach.

Ohiopyle Coffee Roasters owner Abby Simons was grinding coffee beans for a customer while her husband, Pete, handled the sale. They often have repeat customers at the Greensburg events.

“Markets like this are a wonderful opportunity to engage with local communities that might not be local to us,” Pete Simons said.

Marketing, advertising and promotion on social media are important, he said, but nothing beats connecting face-to-face.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta by email at rsignorini@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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