When Vancouver’s popular craft market Portobello West began 13 years ago, there weren’t many like it around town. Buying locally made goods hadn’t become mainstream, and spending extra money on handcrafted, high-quality items was still a foreign idea to many shoppers.
“When we started in 2006, we were probably the only local market,” Shalu Dugal Sharma, Portobello West’s events, communications, and marketing manager, told the Straight in a phone interview. “But now so many have joined, and it really shows the influence of the shop-local scene.”
The upcoming spring market will feature more than 50 vendors selling everything from sustainable clothing, foraged jewellery, and handpainted home décor to organic skin care, craft cider, and artful chocolates.
Portobello West made its debut as a fashion and arts market but has since evolved to incorporate a diverse range of goods.
“We’ve grown by adding local foods, potters, and other artisan goods, but what we’ve maintained is always the high quality of vendors,” explained Sharma. “They need to meet a certain criteria, and maybe the price point is higher, but the items are valuable and will last, which can be passed onto future generations. They aren’t mass-produced, and you won’t find them anywhere else.”
One of the highlights at the seasonal event is the comeback of fashion. Ten vendors will be showcasing their products, with a focus on eco-friendly and upcycled designs.
Shoppers will be able to check out vendors like KOME Clothing, which makes its garments with freehand-cut, natural fabrics; John died designs, a newcomer that makes vests, jackets, and shirts for adults and children out of screen-printed recycled fabrics; and Street & Saddle, a Strathcona-based studio that creates custom equestrian-style clothing using locally sourced and natural fabrics.
“The idea is all about slow and sustainable, [and] that kind of represents all the vendors and not just fashion,” said Sharma. “Our skin care is going vegan and natural. Our food is using natural and organic products. Even the ceramics are following the trend of minimal and earthy vibes.”
Attendees can bring the entire brood—it’s a family-friendly event with food trucks, live music, and interactive photo booths. There will also be perks for those who arrive early: the first 25 people in line get a swag bag, which contains goodies like jewellery, hand products, scarves, and more.
The market is run as a nonprofit society, which means that Portobello West isn’t about making money, but about exposing people to shopping locally.
“All funds collected go toward the vendor fees, future markets, advertising, and permits, so no one is making a dollar by putting on this market,” said Sharma. “It’s for our vendors to sell and succeed and grow.”
Portobello West takes place at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews) on Saturday (April 27) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.