Last Wednesday, the Students’ Society of McGill’s (SSMU) Ballroom hosted the Market Cooperative’s Holiday Bonanza, one of the four such markets hosted throughout the year.The market created a positive space on campus for students, with vendors selling locally crafted goods and the McGill community able to connect and engage in meaningful shopping leading up to the holidays. Adding to the experience was the cheerful hum of live music buzzing throughout the room as music serenaded vendors and shoppers alike.
Amelia Brinkerhoff, U3 Science, and Sam Gregory, U3 Arts, co-founded the Market Cooperative three years ago, feeling that such a space was lacking at McGill. According to Justine Eisenberg, U3 Arts, the public operations coordinator, the Market Cooperative has grown and improved each year.
Vendors are found mainly through word of mouth, but Brinkerhoff said that she also explores the Montreal community to find unique vendors for the market.
“I reach out to local vendors at markets and shops if I think they are a good fit for the market,” she said.
Profits from the market are then reinvested in its operations, with small stipends and promotional material with any extra profit.
The holiday-themed market featured over 30 vendors, each offering unique and local wares. Products included terrariums, stone and custom jewellery, hand knit accessories, vegan treats and loose leaf tea. Martine, who owns Borea Soins Corporel, a natural skincare company, said she appreciated the networking opportunities of the market and its relaxing setting.
“I loved the entertainment and networking [that] the event provided,” she said.
Local musicians also used the venue to perform, with jazz, rock, indie, a capella and acoustic artists being featured throughout the day.
Students were very receptive to the event and appreciated the cozy space and unique opportunity to buy from local vendors.
“It is a cool space, and it feels good to support small business owners who are given a venue to display their work,” said Joanna Lui, U2 Science.
Ryan Canuto, U1 Arts, who performed with the Chromatones a cappella group, shared a similar sentiment.
“It’s great because independent artists from all mediums—art, food, and music—have an opportunity to show and distribute their work in a way that they otherwise might not,” he said.
Brinkerhoff stated that the market creates a unique experience to bring students and vendors of the Montreal community together.
“The best thing about the markets was the positive space it has created at McGill,” she said.
It supports a ‘village effect,’ allowing for community building and rekindled connection, which can sometimes be lost at a big school in an even bigger city.
Eisenberg supported this sentiment, and explained that her involvement has been one of her most positive experiences at McGill. Furthermore, according to Eisenberg, the market allows increased accessibility to the art community, as well as support for local artists. The sight of vendors and students, laughing and mingling together, attested to that.
The Market Cooperative runs markets four times per year. The next one will be during the Winter semester, as a love-themed market in light of Valentine’s Day and general self-care over the winter months.