After the hullabaloo of sales from chains and department stores on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is a national shopping holiday that recognizes local artisans and visionaries.
Across Agora Downtown Market and throughout Harrisonburg, shops are celebrating the holiday with pop-ups and sales. Tucked away in the corner of downtown, Pale Fire Brewing Company is hosting Handmade Harrisonburg, a market that captures the various crafters and creators of Virginia.
For the third year, Pale Fire is opening its brewhouse from 1-6 p.m. today, so families can get some holiday shopping done and know that their dollars are returning to the local economy.
Susan Keeler, taproom manager and market organizer, has arranged for 15 vendors to share tables and space this year. The majority of shopping will be offered in the brewhouse, but some tables will spill into the taproom. The vendors will include potters, jewelers and a photographer.
Because Pale Fire does not charge vendors to sell at the event, Keeler said she curates the lineup each year. Some of the featured artisans are part-time or new marketers.
Kathy Roletter is a retired elementary school teacher who, from childhood, has knitted for friends and family, but she is making her market debut as owner of Cranky Sox today at Pale Fire. Roletter said her grandmother taught her to knit when she was young, but she discovered a 1922 sock knitting machine while antiquing in the mid-1990s and found replacement needles for it years later. After tinkering with the machine, Roletter began producing more socks and has decided to try her hand at selling the multicolored, superwash wool socks.
“For years now, I’ve been making socks for me and my family, but recently I thought I could turn this into a sideline, so I wormed my way into this craft show,” Roletter said. “I’ve been told it’s a high-quality show that’s well attended.”
Whether shopping around for family gifts or getting snapshots at the mini photo session for the Christmas card, Pale Fire is offering an array of opportunities today, as well as the usual brewery experience.
“It’s not very often that you can have a drink in your hand while you do some holiday shopping,” Keeler said.
In previous years, the market has lasted two days and featured a raffle that benefited the Collins Center, but Keeler said it was unfair for vendors who sold on Sunday because Saturday was more popular for buyers and the raffle was overlooked in past markets.
Anna Hudick is the owner of Inside My Locket, which crafts jewelry from sterling silver, natural gemstones and freshwater pearls. Hudick said she frequently participates at Valley markets and festivals, but she returns to this one because the brewery is working to intentionally highlight artists next door.
“It’s really important that it’s happening on Small Business Saturday and that we’re actually getting money back in the local economy,” Hudick said. “Most of us as artisans don’t have a brick-and-mortar store, so it’s great for us to get our names out to the local community.”
Pale Fire also hosts a market in spring before Mother’s Day and frequently has events centered around musicians and writers.
“I’m just really pumped about Pale Fire, that they actually are showcasing the artisans and the artist in the community. They’re giving back to us; they’re giving back to the community,” Hudick said.
Pale Fire is located in the Ice House at 217 S. Liberty St. #105.