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Market time is here again
Weekly event a sign of summer

Shawn Giilck
Northern News Services
Thursday, June 25, 2015

One of the first indicators of summer in Inuvik opened its doors June 20.

NNSL photo/graphic

Don Gillis is one of the regular artisans displaying his wares at the Arctic Market. - Shawn Giilck/NNSL photo

The third year of the Arctic Market got off to a slow start on the morning of June 20, but by 11 a.m. people were thronging to Chief Jim Koe Park looking for some tasty treats, hand-made crafts, a few bargains and a little social interaction too.

Jackie Challis, Inuvik's manager of tourism and economic development, is the brains behind the market.

When the decision was made to try having a market for crafters and artists, similar in concept to a traditional farmer's market in other communities, Challis said it was clear there was a need to provide some kind of venue for the diversity of people producing such products.

A permanent facility of some kind had been discussed, and is still under discussion, but in the meantime a temporary operation made sense, she said, and it still does.

While the Great Northern Arts Festival and the Christmas Craft Show sponsored by the festival are big business in town, it was obvious many people were producing enough products to sell on a weekly basis, Challis explained.

They simply lacked somewhere to set up.

The art market, combined with baked products and other items, such as fresh fish, looked to be the ideal way to handle the demand, at least on an interim basis.

"People wanted a place where they could come, and some wanted a co-op. A building with bricks and mortar was unreachable for the moment, but a place here was workable."

Some of the people attending the market might not be quite ready to sell their products at a larger venue such as the arts festival, Challis added, but a spot at the Arctic Market was within their comfort zone.

"There's not really a bakery in town, and it's a treat to have baked products," she said. "So it's a treat to come down every week and get some."

"And there's not a lot of commitment, so people don't feel overwhelmed," Challis added.

People can rent table on a daily or seasonal basis. If the vendors don't sell anything they're not obligated to pay.

It's the first time in the market's three-year run that vendors have been made to pay a fee, but it's still so nominal it shouldn't be a deterrent, Challis said.

Don Gillis, one of the regular vendors at the market, said "I find it very enjoyable being here and meeting new people."

He works primarily with wood products, carving some exotic items out of everyday pieces of wood, particularly burls.

"It's been surprisingly successful," he said of the market. "Particularly so compared to other farmer's markets, which attract thousands. I do better with fewer people.

"It's well worthwhile to come here. And I enjoy meeting the people. I've talked to people from Germany and many other places."

The one thing the market lacks, he said, is consistency of vendors, but it doesn't seem to put much of a crimp into sales.

Gail Robson, who attended the market for the first time this past weekend, said she was very excited to be there.

She assisted with the Inuvik Community Greenhouse, where she's a new member.

The organization had decided to extend its plant sale to the market, she said, as well as other produce.

"I don't how much we wind up making here, but it's a big part of reaching out to the community and makes sure everyone has access to beautiful flowers and veggies. It's a big part of what we do."

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