By Ilana Newman, The Daily Yonder Read more
In November 2020, it seemed like the Grinch might well succeed at stealing Christmas in Lander. And by Grinch, we mean COVID-19.
“Many local artists and businesses rely on holiday sales to buoy them up until the summer season. I kept hearing about concern over a slowdown in shopping because of the pandemic,” says LOR Lander community officer Michelle Escudero. “So the community took matters into its own hands with a little boost from LOR.”
In the few weeks before the holidays, community members created several shop local initiatives with funding from LOR, including a Keep It Local Lander advertising campaign for the Chamber of Commerce, several gift card programs (like the ongoing 10 Spot program with County 10), and a marketing plan and media buy for Alchemy Artists Co-op that resulted in record sales. And on December 5, LOR helped residents launch Lander’s first pop-up, holiday artisan market.
Alchemy Artists Co-op is so thankful for the grant opportunity provided by the LOR Foundation during this past Christmas season. Alchemy is the home of 13 local artists who have experienced economic hardships during the pandemic. The ad campaign provided by LOR created the needed support and resulted in one-third of all our sales for the year in December!
When COVID-19 concerns led to the cancellation of Art in the Afternoon, a beloved indoor holiday art fair sponsored by the Lander Art Center, Dannine Donaho of Snow Deep Designs stepped in with an idea: What about an outdoor market that would create a safe space for shoppers to peruse artisans’ creations? Four weeks later, Lander’s inaugural holiday pop-up market was born, with 10 vendors and more than 200 shoppers.
In addition to assisting with tent, DJ, and advertising costs, LOR’s funding helped purchase several propane heaters that kept shoppers and vendors comfortable during the event—and those heaters are now available for community use (contact Donaho at Snow Deep Designs for details.) Donaho says the market was busy from about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with some artists even selling out. Less tangible, but equally important, the event provided an opportunity for the Lander community to come together safely during a challenging period.
“People were expressing thank-yous for creating something that was COVID-safe and to kick the holiday season off,” Donaho says. “I think there was a community connect. So many people that I saw that morning were people I hadn’t seen in several months because of our current situation. I think we created a little community in this time when we’re mostly staying at home.”
The market was a first for Lander, but hopefully not a last: Donaho is already talking about a follow-up in the spring or summer. To that end, Donaho worked with LOR to create this easy-to-follow roadmap for hosting similar outdoor markets in the future—when pandemic protocols are (we hope) a distant memory.
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