(shot and edited by Arnold Lan from PTF Productions)

On Yonge street right before Dundas reads a huge cheery sign hung over a big white, makeshift tent: #localTOmrkt.

Although not the first pop-up of the season, this particular market is certainly one of the longer ones, running from November 29th to December 28th, everyday from 12PM to 10PM. Offering one day bookings, #localTOmrkt features a different assortment of designers and retailers who set up and tear down daily, depending on the number of days they’ve reserved the space. Some have been there for two straight weeks, others only three or four days. This gives vendors unprecedented flexibility to work the pop-up circuit during the holiday timeframe. 

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As a result of the business potpourri, the collection of booths feel more like a flea market than the usual curated vibe of a pop-up space. Vendors selling everything from artisan jewelry and baked goods, to sport jerseys and old watches fill the spaces of their booths with differing aesthetics and products. The messy atmosphere gives the market a friendly feel, but also makes it difficult for organizers to guarantee quality goods for a target demographic.

Pulling off a pop-up is also not without other difficulties. There was no heat the first week, and the market had to reorient its entrances to direct a better flow of traffic. Yet it is also a precious opportunity for vendors who primarily operate online to widen their demographic.  “We’ve kind of been with them through all that, this floor just came in a few days ago because we were getting flooded, and now there are also heaters”, says Keanne Antwi, daughter of designer Katherine Antwi, and social media manager of Reynah Armure. A jewelry and accessories brand inspired by Global Culture and Travel, Antwi’s experiences merge with fashion and translate into pieces that are diverse and modern.  

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The mother-daughter team and their statement jewelry have been at #localTOmrkt a few days each week. As customers stop to look, they converse, making personal recommendations and explaining the inspiration or craftsmanship behind specific pieces. Purchases can also be packaged as gifts, and personalized for recipients.

The value of pop-up is in this increase of smaller, friendly interactions that change consumer experience. Besides strongly advocating for local businesses, pop-up also builds stronger and more personable relationships between vendor to customer, vendor to vendor, and organizer to vendor. The overlapping of these relationships is particularly strong in the small but friendly space of the big, white tent that changes daily.

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#LocalTOmrkt is a small but strong alternate retail space with a lot of potential for growth. Their successes and failures this year will hopefully only encourage and improve the pop-up presence in Toronto, 2015.

Posted by:jasmine

Jasmine is an editor, poet, and community arts organizer. She comes to poetry by way of Chinese music. This blog is a mapping of ways.

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