Community markets support small businesses and help revitalize New Kensington

On Saturday, two New Kensington community markets held less than a block away, at Voodoo Brewing and Knead Community Cafe, gave local vendors an opportunity to showcase their wares and attract new customers.

Michelle Thom, owner of Voodoo Brewing, and Jamie Parker, owner of a New Kensington bakery called Sweet Alchemy, have teamed up to run the Voodoo Brewing event.

Dubbed Fairies, Flowers, and Fun: A Spring Celebration, their event brought together around 20 small business vendors – selling everything from homemade crafts to personalized cups – on the lawn outside the brewery.

The idea was to host a family event to welcome spring, support small businesses and revamp downtown New Kensington, Thom said.

The duo have already held four community markets, Parker said, and plan to hold another free event on Saturday, July 9 on Fifth Avenue, featuring local restaurants and liquor vendors, as well as fire dancers. and artists.

“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, a local photographer who had set up a tent for photos on Saturday, the most exciting part of the market was that she played a part in the revamping of her hometown of New Kensington.

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

Jackson operates a photography business in downtown New Kensington that focuses on “women’s empowerment.” It offers photo sessions for young girls to dress up as princesses or fairies. Its goal, she said, is to help people reconnect with themselves — just as the goal of these community markets is to help people reconnect with their community.

She said she hopes the influx of small businesses to the area and the emergence of community events and markets will draw people to New Kensington and allow the people who live there to become more involved in a community that recently got a bad rap for a few people.

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

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

“There’s a lot more going on in the community,” she said. “People get involved”

As people gather at events like the Saturday Market, small businesses are getting a boost, said Megan Igo, who ran a booth for Dear Neighbors Craft, a small business she started in December and who sells homemade woodworking.

“It brings out the community. It gets our name out there,” she said. “We were inundated with invitations [to community markets]. More things like this help the community be better.

Myriah McKenzie of Springdale walked the pits with Chrissy Dibas of Lower Burrell early Saturday afternoon. McKenzie said they wanted to visit some of the local small businesses in the area and decided to stop at the market as well.

“I love supporting small businesses,” she said. “I just like supporting local people instead of Amazon and big business.”

“It looks nicer when things are done by hand,” Dibas added.

Meanwhile, at the Knead Cafe

Nearby, the Knead Community Cafe hosted its Mother Nature’s Garden Market, which had local vendors selling natural plant-based products.

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

“This market is a way to attract new people to the New Kensington area,” Bode said, adding that she too felt the area was being redesigned.

When the cafe opened about six years ago, she said, it was the only business in the neighborhood. Opening the cafe there felt like “a risk and a gamble,” she said, but it paid off. Bode said she is now excited to see more new businesses opening up.

“There’s so much going on in New Kensington that you could almost plan a little day trip,” she said.

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

“I’m so glad I did,” she said. “Everyone has been super nice. Everyone is super supportive.

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

“This is the year of small business,” Wilson said. “It’s a good opportunity to see small businesses bounce back.”

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

Delilah Miller of Bellevue sold jellies and jams. Formerly Amish, she uses Amish techniques to make jellies and jams, and gathers ingredients from local farms, farmers’ markets and picking sites.

Although Miller said she sometimes attends larger events around town, she said she prefers smaller community markets that have a stronger community feel.

“It’s about connecting,” she says. “It’s about community.”

Julia Felton is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, jfelton@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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