What began with 30 vendors and around 500 customers at a small North End church has turned into a soaring success.
Ten years after its inception, the Third + Bird Christmas market now occupies 90,000 square feet of the Hudson’s Bay in downtown Winnipeg.
“This year, we have 155 vendors and we’re expecting over 14,000 shoppers,” Third + Bird co-founder Chandra Kremski said.
It’s all local at Third + Bird, as businesses from around the province get a chance to showcase their products.
“I think we tapped into a need that Manitobans were really interested in, which is supporting local businesses,” Kremski said. “There’s more awareness, and they’re seeing they can support their neighbours and their friends.”
Caitlin Giesbrecht and Nicole Pellaers founded Folk + Fire around six months ago, a business that makes its own s’mores.
“You feel like you know the people you’re buying from, and we like to get to know the people who are buying from us. We like reaching out and having that conversation,” Giesbrecht said.
“We are the biggest small town. The support Winnipeggers have for one another is unlike any city.”
Wendi Kuarsingh creates whale-shaped couch pillows as part of her business, Wendi Whale, and said an event like this is a massive boost for business.
“It’s an amazing platform; so many people come here,” Kuarsingh said. “Even if they don’t buy, the trickle of messages comes in after. As a local business, it can raise you up very fast.”
While some malls were holding Black Friday sales through the weekend, thousands of Winnipeggers still poured into the market Saturday.
“It’s so important to choose to support small than buy from these big corporate businesses,” Kremski said. “When you’re purchasing from these markets, you’re feeding their families, and that’s a feel-good feeling.”
Third + Bird runs Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.