ALTON – The Alton Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market and organizer Alton Main Street are teaming up with a local man to encourage more people of color to participate as vendors.
Derrick D. Richardson, a firefighter, author and volunteer, has offered to cover the cost of the first week’s booth rental fee for 10 African-American entrepreneurs who would like to try their hand at selling their handmade or homegrown goods.
“We are excited to spread the word about this incentive to encourage more diversity at the Market,” said Sara McGibany, executive director of Alton Main Street. “We currently host a handful of popular African-American vendors who enjoy great sales, and we are confident that once others give it a try they will be back regularly.”
The opportunity is good for the market at the corner of Landmarks Boulevard and Henry Street, which runs through Oct. 17 on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and on Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m., as well as the new Night Market at Elijah P’s, located in the warehouse at 401 Piasa St., which runs through Nov. 16 on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m.
The addition of a later option provides artists and hobby gardeners who work 9 to 5 jobs the opportunity to pursue their passion as a side job while building their clientele and testing products. Any items that are homegrown within a 50-mile radius of Alton or handmade by the vendor are welcome to be sold, including fruit and vegetables, baked goods, cut flowers, and arts & crafts.
Anne Hollin is the proprietor of “sHe Handmade Soaps” which offers handcrafted soap and after shower products. She shares a booth with her friend Sharon Bonner who calls her business “Bon’s Paper Creations” – specializing in hand rolled paper bead jewelry.
“I have really enjoyed my time as a vendor at the Market over the past three years,” said Hollin, “Sometimes all people need is a little encouragement to take a leap towards a new venture, and this generous offer might be just the nudge that someone needs to give this a try and start their own business.”
Bridget Washington is a popular vendor at the Night Market who creates stylish purses, wallets, table runners, chapstick cases, and clothing items. A crowd favorite is John “Stick Man” Donlow, who creates brightly colored walking sticks, home décor and masks from Mississippi River driftwood.
“I want to provide an opportunity for other African-Americans to explore entrepreneur possibilities,” said Richardson, “This is one way in my continuing efforts to give back and to pay it forward.” Interested vendors are encouraged to visit www.DowntownAlton.com to download a registration form or call (618) 463-1016 for more details.
Alton Main Street organizes the markets, which have been in operation for 24 years, as part of its efforts to revitalize the Downtown Alton historic district.