Editorial: Holiday pop-up shop a lovely showcase of local artists

Thursday, December 07, 2017

When we think of the less obvious but special attractions of Franklin County that we like to brag about, it’s the creators of our hidden economy: artists and craftspeople who make elegant furniture, turned wooden bowls, fine paintings, pottery and jewelry. They are internet-enabled and work often from the privacy of their home studios and workshops but have no visible storefronts on the main thoroughfares.

Here and there, over the years, some of their wares have been collected in a country store or craft fair. In past times, shoppers at Christmas time could find special handmade gifts gathered at the Franklin County Arts Council building, or at the former visitors center by the Interstate 91 rotary. But not so in recent times.

So, it should be a treat to see the local artisans come to downtown Greenfield this season, as a proactive group of merchants, civic leaders and Yankee Candle have come together to create a holiday pop-up market in the Pushkin building at Main and Federal streets, in the very heart of downtown.

The shopping event, which will offer food, drink and music, will be held this Friday, from 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring 20 to 25 vendors and coinciding with the town’s annual Jinglefest downtown celebration.

Ashli Stempel, a former and soon-to-be town councilor and an organizer of this event, noted the vision “is to give local artisans space in our downtown who might not be able to afford a monthly rent or be a regular fixture in the downtown.”

Stempel is working with Ben Goldsher, whose family owns the Pushkin and the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, and with Amy McMahan of Mesa Verde restaurant and local artist Emma Sadowski.

“We wanted to make sure the hours we chose would bring people downtown to shop and then release them into the downtown,” Stempel said, adding the timing gives shoppers a chance to stop by other stores, get dinner and stay for a movie or a show.

Yankee Candle is the market’s main sponsor.

“Their willingness to sponsor this event has really given these local artists the ability to be featured in our downtown; they’ve really stepped up in a big way,” Stempel said.

It’s nice to see yet another example of fresh energy and ideas infused into the town’s commercial and entertainment life — shining a light onto the area’s talented artists and artisans while giving local shoppers a chance to browse in one place many of the potential gift items produced right here. We hope the idea becomes a hit and grows.

In fact, it makes us wonder if there isn’t a place for such a crafts market year-round. It was a sad day when the motor vehicle registry displaced the rotary visitor’s center, which housed such a great collection of locally produced arts and crafts and specialty foods.

If it’s possible to create a pop-up, could the town, some of its landlords, merchants, and local artisans pull off such a consignment shop year-round? It’s hard to see how it would not attract shoppers, how it wouldn’t make Greenfield a better place.