Whether for better or for worse, few sales can match the greatness of Black Friday – a shopping addict’s feverish dream characterized by long lines, sky-high discounts, and frenzied shoppers scrambling.
But as the annual sale draws closer, local artists, creators and curators are finding ways to appropriate this complicated capitalist legacy.
sitting swan organized its ninth community market in 4th Avenue Food Park from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday. More than 15 local vendors gathered in the outdoor space, selling second-hand art and clothing alongside the park’s existing food vendors.
Advertised as the “Better than Black Friday” market, the event aimed to challenge the corporate chaos of Black Friday.
“Every time you spend money, you vote with your dollar,” said Mia Crisostomo, marketing coordinator for Cafe Opus and the 4th avenue food park. “If you go out and buy from these companies, then that’s what you’re actively supporting.”
Crisostomo, 22, runs Sitting Swan with Alexa Cuk, who started the organization in October 2020 while working at a cafe in Orlando. When Cuk moved to Gainesville, Crisostomo joined her to showcase local businesses at 4th Ave Food Park. In February, the park hosted its first Sitting Swan Market.
As the holiday season approached, Crisostomo and Cuk wanted to give residents the opportunity to support local artists while shopping for gifts for their friends and family.
Crisostomo said Black Friday is just a marketing tactic that large companies can afford to implement by taking advantage of planned obsolescence or the intentional creation of a temporary product.
“Instead of buying from these huge companies that can afford to market products to you, you actually come into a market and meet the people who made the products you buy,” Crisostomo said. “It’s a much more meaningful way to spend your money. ”
Local markets like Sitting Swan are breaking this consumer cycle, she said. Community members buy handicrafts and support local artists in the process.
Minca Davis, a 20-year-old advertising junior from UF, was one of the vendors at Better than Black Friday Market, where she sold stickers, collages and handmade notebooks.
It started selling in October 2020 at A la carte bazaar vintage market and has been to nearly 15 other markets since, including every Sitting Swan market she was available for.
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Davis grew up in Gainesville, but said she only recently noticed the rise of small local markets like Sitting Swan. Still, she said she found a strong sense of community among other local artists.
Like Crisostomo, Davis said she found markets to be an effective way to fight consumerism. Especially among the younger generations, she said, fast fashion is exacerbated by social media microtrends and cheap online retailers such as Shein and Fashion Nova. Markets make vintage clothing and art much more accessible, Davis said.
Reginald Nelson, 38, was selling products from his company, Daily Burning Candle Studio, at the Better than Black Friday market.
The company launched online in April, selling all-natural and eco-friendly candles made from vegan soy wax. A candle fan himself, Nelson said he was shocked that the chemicals released from burning candles can be toxic to pets and children, and that overexposure to fumes has been linked to cancer. lung. With his business, he said he tries to bring clean, safe scents into homes.
“I have two kids and two dogs, so I want to make sure I protect my family,” Nelson said.
As a small business owner, Nelson said that when people choose to buy locally, they’re not just getting a better product, they’re putting food on someone’s table. And as a black business owner, he said he takes pride in promoting a clean life through candles, which he hasn’t seen many other black business owners do.
Compared to a Black Friday sale, Nelson said the markets offer a more personalized experience. Often, he says, customers will tell him that nostalgia for scents reminds them of a forgotten childhood memory or a lost loved one.
More than anything, Nelson said, shopping at markets like Sitting Swan brings something to the table that a Black Friday sale alone can’t.
“I think we local businesses are all trying to show that we can produce the same, if not better, products,” he said.
Contact Veronica Nocera at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @vernocera.
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Veronica Nocera is a first year journalism major with a history minor. This is her first semester with The Alligator staff, where she works as an assistant for Avenue News. She also writes for Rowdy Magazine.