January 15th, 2021

COVID protection order of the day at Handmade Market

By Woodard, Dale on September 1, 2020.

Natasha Hladiuk, owner of 12 Paws from Calgary, tends to her table at the 20th Lethbridge Handmade Market Saturday afternoon at the Exhibition Park West Pavilion. Herald photo by Dale Woodard

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

A healthy dose of sanitizer was necessary, but it was still a hands-on experience Saturday at the Exhibition Park West Pavilion.

For the second time in a little over a month – and the second time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March – entrepreneurs rolled our their hand-crafted wares at the Lethbridge Handmade Market.

Hand sanitizer was in abundance as were the mandatory masks and social distancing, but for Holly Leavitt, hair stylist and jewelry maker for local business Knotted Fire, simply getting to set up and do some in-person selling was welcome.

“Honestly, it’s been a nice change of pace,” said Leavitt, who does macrame jewelry hair braiding ranging from corn rows, french braids and box braids. “It’s definitely different, less people for sure. Things are quieter, but sales are still good. This is the first market I’ve done since the pandemic, but one thing I’ve noticed is online sales have been better this year.”

For Natasha Hladiuk, owner of 12 Paws from Calgary, Saturday’s market was also her first of the summer.

“It’s been going really well. So I’ve been really impressed with how they’ve had it set up,” she said.

Like Leavitt, Hladiuk noted the surge in online sales in the face of the pandemic.

“So that helps. But it’s always a hit when you can’t do markets. But I’m impressed with how this one is going, so when the Christmas season comes around people are more comfortable holding them and coming out to them.”

A full-time teacher, Hladiuk normally hits six to eight markets in the winter when she was doing 12 Paws full time, typically around Calgary as well as Banff and Canmore.

Saturday was her second stop in Lethbridge.

“I sell handmade dog apparel for adventurers. It’s all handmade by me, I sew everything here,” said Hladiuk. “It’s called 12 Paw because I named it after my three dogs. I worked at a dog daycare for many years and then switched careers, but I still wanted to be involved in the dog community. So this is my way of doing something creative and being able to still engage with the dog people.”

Like the rest of the vendors, hand sanitizer was plentiful at both Hladiuk’s and Leavitt’s booths.

“I sanitize between any contact with my customers,” said Hladiuk. “Apart from that, there was been a lot of protocols by the market itself. You have to be tested upon entering and the mandatory masks and all those things. I feel like it’s generally pretty safe.”

“I have hand sanitizer in two spots in my stations and signs for that,” added Leavitt, who works out of Blackcomb Hair Salon. “I’m equipped with Lysol and all of the necessary disinfectants. I’m doing everything very safely and cautiously.”

Over 60 artisans and food trucks from southern Alberta and across Canada were set up Saturday with over $1,000 in handmade door prizes. A portion of the door profits are went to the Interfaith Food Bank.

“It’s been quite successful,” said Jessy Gust, founder Lethbridge Handmade Market. “This is our second COVID edition of the summer, so it’s been a little busier than the last one, people are getting more used to the regulations and the bylaws and feeling more comfortable with the crowd again. They’ve always been respectful, though, so that’s been good. The mandatory masks helps us as well.”

A bit smaller than usual due to COVID, the one-day market – and 20th LHM event in its fourth year – was moved to the West Pavilion, but Gust said the Oct. 17 Harvest edition and the Dec. 12 Holiday editions would be moved back to the main pavilion.

In the meantime, Gust noted the vendors were simply happy to set up in person once again.

“The vendors at our last one in July made just as much money as a normal one,” she said. “So I think with the time off the customers and vendors missed it. I think everybody is happy to be back again.”

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