“Keep Christmas local,” said group organizer Tamara Meggitt. (Facebook images)

“Keep Christmas local,” said group organizer Tamara Meggitt. (Facebook images)

Coronavirus or no coronavirus, the Christmas markets must go on! Just, differently

Online groups are connecting small vendors with Christmas shoppers

Picture a Christmas craft fair. It’s crowded, people are wearing sweaters and boots, winter coats slung over an arm, hot cider in hand, perusing local goods with the free hand. Handmade items are picked up, turned over, examined and put back on the table. Folks squeeze by each other and huddle around popular booths, lean in close and speak loudly to be heard over the din.

Not exactly COVID-19 safe.

Some Christmas fair hosts are trying to plan outside events or have secured venues that can support physical distancing, but many fairs have been cancelled out right leaving vendors with stacks of inventory and nowhere to sell.

For lots of people Christmas craft fairs are a beloved tradition. It’s just not Christmas without a craft fair, some aficionados might say.

Tamara Meggitt is hoping to help by creating localized groups on Facebook where these craft sellers can connect directly with would-be Christmas market shoppers. She started the North Island Christmas Market group on Facebook, and within a couple of days it had 500 members.

“It’s turned into a place to get to know your neighbours,” Meggitt said. “People have had no idea the kind of art coming out of their own backyards, so it’s been a connection place, too.”

There is an astonishing variety of items for sale. Driftwood sculptures, jewelry, soaps and skincare, fresh Christmas baking, wood work, fine art, small furniture items, lots of masks, children’s clothing, knit and crochet items, photography, preserved foods, flower arrangements decorations, scarves, and so much more.

RELATED: 12 weeks of Christmas — retailers speed up holiday plans in a daunting year

Vendors have made posts with photos of their products, introducing themselves. Shoppers are saying things like, “I was hoping you would find this. Love your stuff!” “These are so gorgeous in real life! I have two and just special ordered another one.” “I am super excited to purchase my Christmas gifts this year!”

The group is public, the verification questions required to join are simply: do you live on the North Island?, and are you a vendor or a shopper?

The group doesn’t facilitate payment, so vendors connect directly with shoppers and arrange for shipping or pick ups. Many have their own small websites to handle payment, and others will use e-transfers or similar.

The North Island Christmas Market is for Sayward and above, and a second group for the Comox Valley has caught the attention of Campbell River vendors as well as those in the valley.

“Keep Christmas local,” Meggitt encouraged.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


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