On an island known for its residents’ self-resilience and unique charm, shopping locally isn’t just a luxury, but a way of life. The holiday season, in particular, brings craft and artisan markets to the island for exclusive and often handcrafted items that embody the local culture while fueling the island’s economy. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, each dollar spent at small businesses returns almost 50 times more money, locally, than buying from a large online retailer, like Amazon. Check out these local market options to shop small throughout the holidays.
Mullis Center craft fair
Get a head start on Black Friday shopping when the Mullis Community Senior Center staff resurrect their holiday artisan craft fair from 4-7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17. Locals can search through 20 San Juan Island vendors for gifts that include jewelry, textiles, lotions, soaps, ornaments, books, evergreen wreaths and more. Attendees can even purchase plant-based medicines to support the local nonprofit Ihiya Biological Reserve. According to the center’s manager, Anna Coffelt, the event has occurred intermittently for the past roughly 20 years and combines the staff’s three favorites: the holidays, supporting artists and shopping locally. For more information, visit www.mulliscenter.com.
Artisan holiday market
Right after Thanksgiving, head to the Island Artisan’s Holiday Market to support local artists, as well as scholarships for budding creatives. The 40th annual bazaar is hosted by the San Juan Island Artisans, a local nonprofit. The event runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 23, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Friday Harbor Elementary School, and will offer items like jewelry, clothes, baked goods, greeting cards and more. Each of the roughly 60 vendors contributes a $50 entrance fee and 10 percent of their sales to college scholarships for high school seniors interested in studying art. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/San-Juan-Island-Artisans.
Fairgrounds flea and craft market
Up to 50 regional vendors can set up shop from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, in the main building at the San Juan County Fairgrounds. This staple craft flea market has popped up on the island every December for almost a decade to give residents a garage-sale alternative during the winter, for holiday gifts. Vendors may be from the islands or even nearby mainland cities like Anacortes. Current merchants include the local public school’s senior class, selling holiday wreaths, and the local 4-H selling baked goods. Local artists will also offer jewelry, clothing, housewares, ornaments, journals, soaps and more. This year, the local American Legion Auxillary will serve food from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. to fund their college scholarship program for any high school senior. Market attendees can even participate in a gingerbread house building contest. Structures are due Nov. 30 and can be made of any edible materials, while the entry fee is two cans of food for the island’s food bank. Booths to sell items are still available for $27. For more information, visit www.sjcfair.org/events/2018/winter-flea-market.
Old-fashioned Christmas market
Celebrate a vintage Christmas with a European-style market from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at Brickworks. So far, there are 37 vendors registered, including San Juan Island Sea Salts, Girl Meets Dirt, Island Thyme Body Care, Manya Picard Silverworks, Tush and Bush, and Kari’s Elixirs and Madrone Cider. Peruse items such as wreaths, cookies, jewelry, handbags, wooden spoons and fine art, as local musicians play in the background. This third annual event was launched to re-enact the Christmas markets of northern Europe’s past. In addition to buying gifts, attendees can join Santa for hayrides through town and kids can go on pony rides. For more information, visit fhbrickworks.com.