Community Markets support small businesses, help revitalize New Kensington

Two New Kensington community markets less than a block apart, at Voodoo Brewing and Knead Community Cafe, on Saturday gave local vendors a chance to showcase their wares and attract new customers.

Michelle Thom, who owns Voodoo Brewing, and Jimmy Parker, who owns a new bakery in Kensington called Sweet Alchemy, teamed up to lead the Voodoo Brewing event.

Dubbed Fairies, Flowers, and Fun: A celebration of spring, their event brought about 20 small business vendors–selling everything from homemade crafts to custom tumblers–to the lawn outside the brewery.

The idea was to host a family-friendly event to welcome spring, support small businesses, and rejuvenate the downtown New Kensington area, Tom said.

Parker said the duo has hosted four former community markets, and plans to hold another free event on Saturday, July 9, on Fifth Avenue, featuring local restaurants and liquor vendors, as well as fire dancers and entertainers.

“If people come and have fun, that’s a win for us,” Parker said. “We want people to see that there are positive things happening in this community.”

For Melissa Jackson, the local photographer who set up a tent to take pictures on Saturday, the most exciting part of the market was that it played a part in the renovation of her New Kensington hometown.

“It’s exciting,” she said of what she sees as a recent revitalization of the area. “It is inspiring and motivating. I want to be a part of it.”

Jackson runs a photography company in downtown New Kensington that focuses on “empowering women”. It offers photo sessions for little girls to dress up as princesses or fairies. Her goal, she said, is to help people reconnect with themselves — much like the goal of these community markets is to help people reconnect with their community.

She said she hopes that the influx of small businesses into the area and the emergence of community events and markets will draw people to New Kensington, and allow the people who live there to participate more in a community that has recently had a bad reputation. some people.

“You’d be surprised what’s going on here,” she said. “It’s the new new Kensington.”

Pamela Williams, a New Kensington firefighter who was helping out at the market, said she once again feels proud to live in New Kensington.

“There is a lot going on in society,” she said. “People are interfering.”

Megan Ego, who ran a booth for Dear Neighbors Craft, a small business she launched in December to sell homemade woodwork, said that while people gather for events like the Saturday market, small businesses get a boost.

“It gets the community out. It gets our name out there,” she said. We were overwhelmed with calls. [to community markets]. More things like this help society become better.”

Myria Mackenzie, of Springdale, checked out the booths with Chrissy Debbas, of Lower Burrell early Saturday afternoon. McKenzie said they wanted to visit some of the small local businesses in the area and decided to stop by the market as well.

“I love supporting small businesses,” she said. “I’d just support the locals instead of Amazon and the big companies.”

“It’s even more beautiful when things are handcrafted,” Dibas added.

Meanwhile, at Café Knead

Nearby, the Knead Community Cafe hosted Mother Nature’s Garden Market, which boasted of local vendors selling natural plant products.

The Pay What You Can Café hosted a similar event under a different name last year, and hopes to make it an annual tradition, said co-founder Mary Budd. This year, she said, the event attracted about 15 local vendors and several hundred people.

“This market is a way to attract new people to the New Kensington area,” Boddy said, adding that she also feels the area is being reimagined.

She said that when the café opened about six years ago, it was the only business on the premises. She said opening the cafe there seemed like a “risk and a gamble,” but that it worked. Budd said she is now excited to see more new businesses open their doors.

“There is so much going on in New Kensington that you can almost plan a day trip,” she said.

Amber Wilson, of New Kensington, has been selling herbs and herbal teas from her new online business Herbs Heal, which she launched about a year ago. Saturday’s event was her first community market.

“I’m so glad I did,” she said. “Everyone was very friendly. Everyone is very supportive.”

Wilson said she saw about 35 customers early Saturday afternoon, and earned more than enough to recoup the $35 fee to set up a table. For Wilson, it was an encouraging sign to see people support small businesses like hers — especially after so many have struggled during the pandemic and related restrictions.

“This is the year of small business,” Wilson said. “This is a good opportunity to watch small businesses recover.”

Other vendors at the garden market sold everything from plants to baked goods.

Delilah Miller, of Bellevue, used to sell jellies and jams. Previously, the Amish used Amish techniques to make jelly and jam, gathering ingredients from local farms, farmers markets, and pick-your-own locations.

Although Miller said she sometimes participates in bigger events in town, she said she prefers small community markets that have a stronger community atmosphere.

“It’s about communication,” she said. “It’s about society.”

Julia Felton is a writer for the Tribune Review. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, jfelton@triblive.com, or via Twitter .