Happy New Year – A reflection on our first season!

At the very first Denver Handmade Homemade Market, just a mere 7 or 8 months ago,  we had less than 20 vendors and no more than twice that many in customers. As the organizers, we had hatched the plan to put on an alternative local market while standing in our kitchen cooking dinner one night and we decided to throw our reservations to the wind and just dive in. We invited people into our own home and we filled our living room and disheveled backyard with local people, never-before-producers, selling homemade chai and vegan sweets, bread and  homegrown herbs, crocheted scarves and compost tea.

 

We’ve learned a lot from this first season and we’ve grown considerably. At the last market of the season, we had close to 40 vendors and well over 300 people that came to participate, shop, meet vendors, and get inspired about producing their own goods someday. One of the most amazing things about the watching the Handmade Homemade Market change and grown over the course of one season has been to see how quickly the market has changed from a simple idea put out into the community to something  that has grown beyond its organizers already. A entire community of people have come together over this market and the market itself has become a celebration each month of the wealth of knowledge, skill, and local economy that we hold. We hope that the market continues to provide a space for us to share our skills with each other.

We continue to run the HaHo market month after month for a number of different reasons, many of them simple but unendingly satisfying. By running the market each month, we can help to build local community, we can encourage the idea that we are all producers of some kind and we are not limited to consuming what the advertisers tell us to. We can barter and trade and sell our own products and actually continue to learn while in the process of exchanging goods, leaving us feeling satisfied and content instead of remorseful.  Through the market we can experiment with local economic systems, alternative currencies, and question our own relationship with the money that normally runs our world.

We are selfish in many of our reasons for doing this (we love to eat delicious, local food and go home at the end of each market with our arms full of preserves and local craft, mushroom logs and sweets), but we also recognize our responsibility to our vendors. An important reason to run the HaHo market  is to incubate small businesses in Denver. Starting a small business, especially a food business, can be difficult and expensive. Many people have the skill and the desire, but don’t have access to a commercial kitchen, don’t have a place to sell their goods, and don’t have the financial funding to pay all the fees normally associated with farmer’s markets even if they can find a spot at one. We started the Handmade Homemade Market with the hope that it would give people an opportunity to try their hand at selling their goods, perfecting their products, and gaining confidence without high start-up costs.

Moving forward, we’ll continue to fulfill these visions of the market. We have an exciting new workshop series on “How to Turn your Business Idea into a Business”, starting this Tuesday, January 11th, that will help give vendors and other interested producers the real skills to start a small business. Check out the events page for more details. We are planning a potluck in February so the market community can come together on a cold winter night and share in food and drink. We are already planning for the HaHo markets of next season, which will start in April 2011. By now, we have a crew of people helping to run the markets and we are always looking for more ideas of how to improve, so if you’d like to be in touch with some of your ideas, please send us an email.

After a great first season, we are feeling energized to continue to expand the market, meet new local producers, and support a community of people growing resilience and skills. Thanks to everyone for their help and participation in this last season!

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