First Arctic Market wraps up in Inuvik

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The trial is over and tables laden with homemade jellies, rabbit mukluks, embroidered gloves, parka covers and fresh herbs and vegetables have been put away until next June.

The Arctic Market in Inuvik has wrapped up what organizers are calling a successful and profitable first season.

“The idea of a community marketplace was the result of feedback and expressed desire at a community level; the Town of Inuvik simply provided the forum,” Jackie Challis, the town’s economic development and tourism manager, said in a recent press release. “We took registrations, set up tables and even created a Facebook page, but it was the work of the sellers, crafters, growers and bakers that really made it a worthy project.”

The market, which ran as a pilot this summer, took place every Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Jim Koe Park from June 22 until Aug. 31, rain or shine.

Planning is already underway for next summer, when organizers hope to increase the number of sellers as well as expand the existing market infrastructure to include items such as new tents, banners, a sound system and signage.

Boosting local growers and artisans by providing a community retail venue for their products was the driving force behind the market. Tables for vendors and participation in the market was free of charge and the only rule was that all items sold at the Arctic Market had to be grown, made, sewn, baked, cooked or created by hand locally.

The market ran for 11 weeks, enduring all sorts of weather, including sleet and snow. The final market was chilly, with temperatures dipping to a mere 4C, but vendors and customers were kept warm by a big fire and hot tea thanks to Inuvik Mayor Floyd Roland donating wood, and Inuvik Native Band Chief Herbert Blake supplying the kettles and getting the fire stoked.

Over 30 different vendors set up tables throughout the season, with an average of 7-10 each week. Crowds ranging from 15 to 150 came out to peruse through the goods, including fresh produce and flowers, stone carvings, jewellery, textiles, kamiks and more.

“This market would not have been possible without the amazing community members who came out each and every Saturday to buy directly from their neighbours; they too should be applauded for buying and supporting their local community,” Challis said.

Over $15,000 in sales was estimated to be the total generated, with money going directly into the hands of the local vendors and community. Roughly 90 per cent of the sales went to local people, with the remainder going to out-of-town visitors.

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