Photo Gallery | Shopping locally for the holidays
PITTSFIELD — Determined area residents could have knocked off a good deal of their holiday shopping lists via a trip down Melville Street on Saturday, as makeshift marketplaces opened in the Boys & Girls Club and Shire City Sanctuary next door, drawing hundreds.
Arts and crafts, fresh produce, health elixirs and beauty products, handmade jewelry and home decorations, knitting and leatherwork and much, much more was on sale between the two markets.
The shopping venue at the Boys & Girls Club was a familiar one: The Downtown Pittsfield Farmer's Market, winter edition. Saturday marked the second time the event had been held indoors, and 2015 marks the first year the market will be kept up year-round.
"For a couple of years people kept asking us to turn it into a year-round market," Jess Conzo, director of the Alchemy Initiatives, which runs the market, said.
Vendors lined the walls, selling free-range meats, kale, kabocha squash, Brussels sprouts and many more food items, while others traded in handmade pottery, soaps and lotions.
"This is amazing, because there aren't a lot of opportunities for people to find locally grown, healthy food," Kate Carney, owner of White Goose Gardens in Dalton, said. "People who came by today found just that in one central location."
She added, "The other side of the coin is, farmers need a place to sell. You can't just pack up your things until May. I've had to do a lot of the indoor markets in Hudson Valley. This location is much more convenient for me."
With the steady traffic, Carney suggested the winter Farmer's Market open for business more frequently in future years, perhaps as often as every week.
Conzo said more vendors of nonperishables had come out to make the experiment more of a holiday shopping venue.
Traffic remained steady for the duration, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., easily topping last month's turnout. The Farmer's Market will continue indoors at the Boys & Girls Club on the second Saturday of every month through April.
"It's a benefit to the community, the city is supportive, the vendors are doing well and people are stopping in — it seems like something we could continue in the future," Conzo said.
Across the parking lot at Shire City Sanctuary, a total 60 vendors packed the basement and first floor of the former church selling goods in such variety that the place resembled an artisanal department store.
Dubbed the Holiday Shindy, the event continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.