Holiday shopping: uniquely local and COVID-19 friendly

Community Reports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – “This is our one-stop-shop, it’s COVID friendly, and it’s a way to shop local vendors,” says Bree Ortiz, the community division manager with the city of Albuquerque’s Cultural Services division. Albuquerque’s annual gift stop market has gone virtual this year, and people looking to shop locally will be able to do so safely. Bree said the idea for the event came from wanting to help the local businesses, especially those who don’t have a storefront. 

Over 50 artisans are participating in the Grab and Go market in which patrons can choose their items online and pick them up in a drive-thru style pick-up event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Albuquerque Museum on Saturday, Dec. 5. The city will absorb all credit card fees for local vendors and send them a check once the online sales end on Dec. 2. 

TFT Wood, short for The Family Tree Wood, is a Veteran-owned business run by Tricha and Zach Tift. Tricha says the various market and pop-up programs in Albuquerque have been instrumental in getting their business off the ground here in New Mexico. “It’s great to experience the culture and the people,” Tricha said. “2020 is not the year we thought it was going to be, but we still get orders from our local Albuquerque friends. It’s so great to mail an order down the road and say ‘We’re still here!’ The support has been phenomenal.”

TFT Wood is a family-run woodworking business in Albuquerque.

The Downtown Grower’s Market has served as a launching pad for many other local vendors, such as Tailwaggin’ Temptations Gourmet Dog Treats LLC.

The company started 19 years ago when Charlie and Kathy Wendt adopted a golden retriever from their local animal shelter. “We just started doing the farmer’s markets,” Kathy said. “Now we have our products in about ten stores from Belen all the way to Santa Fe. They’re all local, small businesses too, so buying our treats supports both us and them.”

Darryl Willison is also a big supporter of local businesses like his own. The fine artist works predominantly in his shop MERC 66 in the El Vado Center and always tries to give back to the community he says has given so much to him. “My way of giving back is helping other artists realize what they’re capable of,” Willison said. “Many artists like myself want to make a living off their art, but it’s kind of a rollercoaster ride. I just try to push them to represent our community and what reflects our color and our culture.”

Darryl Willison’s workspace in Albuquerque at the El Vado Center.

Melissa Wethington Sandoval has owned her small business for four years. She grew up on a farm in northern New Mexico and was surrounded by herbs and alternative medicine, which inspired her to start her own business.

Under normal circumstances, Sandoval would frequent the local markets and renaissance fairs, building a community of loyal customers. “I’m really thankful to the community who keeps coming back to support us,” Sandoval said.

She also credits the city of Albuquerque for adapting to the state restrictions and moving forward with an online event, “It’s amazing, the ideas that have come out of something terrible that we’re all going through right now,” Sandoval said.

Greg Saenz of Saenz Stained Glass said they have been fortunate enough to still have many customers order their products, even during the pandemic. “It’s pretty nice to see that people aren’t just shutting down; they’re going out of their way to still support the local businesses they usually buy from,” Saenz said.

This event has provided a few of the vendors like Saenz a new mode of operating business. Saenz said before the pandemic, the company didn’t have an online presence, but this online market event has encouraged him to work on creating a website in the hopes of reaching a new or broader customer base.

To learn more about the event, visit their website, and abqspecialevents.com.

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