Daily file photo by Joanne Haner
For jewelry maker Marti De Boer, there’s almost nothing better than seeing her works appreciated and “adopted” into the care of others.
This summer, Downtown Evanston’s Thursday Night Markets will provide that opportunity for De Boer and many other local artisans. The markets will feature more than 30 vendors offering jewelry, paintings, baked goods and more.
The outdoor events will take place the first Thursday of each month from June through September from 4 to 8 p.m. Vendors will be set up on Sherman Avenue, from Davis Street to the south end of Fountain Square.
The event is returning for its second year after seeing success last summer. Laura Brown, Downtown Evanston’s business development and marketing manager, said it gives local business owners greater exposure in a community-centered event.
“One of our main jobs is to support the local retail shops and restaurants in downtown,” Brown said. “It’s a reminder (to residents) we’re here. We’ve got things going on.”
Before the pandemic, Downtown Evanston held a series of weekly concerts throughout the summer. In 2020, however, these were canceled because of COVID-19. Thursday Night Market was created in 2021 to renew a sense of community in Evanston while also supporting local retailers, Brown said.
She added that one of the market’s goals was to provide Evanston residents with a fun event during the week — something vendors also appreciated.
De Boer, who will be returning as a vendor for June’s market, said she was “tickled” by the high turnout at the 2021 market.
She said the markets are especially helpful to smaller artisans because while many other opportunities for artisans to sell their goods require a charge to sell, this event is free to join.
“It’s really nice for someone just starting off or somebody who’s doing it without being in a huge business,” De Boer said.
Since the start of the pandemic, many local businesses have permanently closed their doors.
The Daily reported in 2020 that more than 70 of the city’s businesses closed in the first year of the pandemic alone, bringing drastic changes to the city’s commerce climate.
Through these markets, Evanston retailers will be able to attract new customers, according to Gearhead Outfitters Store Manager Jackie Micelli.
“Maybe people that don’t travel to Downtown Evanston regularly would be attracted to an event that local vendors and small businesses are at,” Micelli said. “I definitely think it can help drive traffic to the stores.”
While Gearhead Outfitters will have a selection of necessities for enjoying the outdoors, other businesses will include women’s clothing store Madison Grace and jewelry boutique Ayla’s Originals.
Author Jarrett Dapier, whose picture book “Mr. Watson’s Chickens” was chosen by NPR and BookPage as one of the best books of 2021, will attend the June 2 market as a vendor.
Ahead of next Thursday’s reopening, De Boer said she is looking forward to seeing people from all around Evanston interact and support local vendors.
“It’s just great,” De Boer said. “I feel really lucky that I get to go.”
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