By Lee Noles
MONROE – Shelle Comer, owner of Silver Lining boutique, and Kim Rushing, who operates August Lilly Florist, developed the idea for the Union Market Pop-Up in 2018 as a way to draw customers to Monroe. The event also allowed newcomers a chance to experience the city’s emerging downtown scene of stores, bars and self-owned restaurants.
“It was successful last year and the vendors saw that. That makes them want to come back because there is a buzz about it,” Comer said. “It brought a lot of people downtown and it gets people to shop downtown… So it did what we wanted it to.”
They approached other entrepreneurs about the concept, and Beth Tourtellot was one of several who expressed interest.
Tourtellot, owner of Peddler’s Paradise, brought in close to 60 vendors for last year’s pop-up, and expects more than 80 this time around. The booths will feature candle makers, painters, and artisans who create furniture, clothes and jewelry.
“It will be unique,” Tourtellot said. “This is different. It is one of a kind and handmade. When a person makes something by hand, it will always be different every single time. It will not be the same thing.”
More than 2,000 people attended the pop-up last year, which started near the historic old courthouse and ran down Main Street. The area offered enough space, but organizers quickly learned the layout didn’t help in getting people to all of the vendors. This year, they are having the pop-up still start at the courthouse but run instead toward the Bottle Factory Venue.
“I think it will have more unity,” Tourtellot said. “It will help the customers, but we also want them to go down Main Street and to other shops.”
In addition to crafts and artwork, visitors will enjoy food trucks offering everything from Jon G’s BBQ to Waffle Tastries sweet and savory style chicken and waffles. Nor’East Family Treats and Eats will have a variety of food including dishes found in New England.
For people not looking for a full meal, the pop-up will have hand-held foods such as kettle corn, cake rolls, candy and snow cones.
“There is something for everybody’s taste,” said 47K Marketplace owner Kay Klaren, who organized food and music for the event.
Music will feature an eclectic style with Shawn Odenwhal performing songs that Klaren said comes from the catalog of Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. Local potter Jim Hanley, who was a professional musician, will perform as part of a trio that includes Steve Ruffino and vocalist Robin Brown. Theresa Eaman will sing jazz standards and songs ranging from the 1920s to today. Klaren said the discovery of one of the performers happened by chance when she saw Conrad Harvey perform at Grapes Wine Bar in Indian Trail. He will also be at one of the two stages for the pop-up as the Bottle Factory and the steps of the Old Courthouse in Monroe’s center are designated for music.
Want to go?
Union Market Pop-Up takes place Sept. 14 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Visit the event’s Facebook page. A rain date is set for Sept. 28.