Downtown Business Owners Partner with DDA to bring Rise Artisan Market to Life 

Written by Kingsli Kraft | October 4th, 2019

This fall, a small group of business owners—with help from the Downtown Development Authority will bring a fun new event to Downtown Alpena: Rise Artisan Market, a pop-up market that will be open for one day only from 12:00pm to 9:00pm, Saturday, October 26th in the empty lot on the corner of Water Street and Second Avenue and in a portion of the street on Water Street. Rise Artisan Market will feature Michigan artists and vendors selling handmade, high quality, original products and goods.

Rise Artisan Market began with an idea that had been brought to Zach Irving by a collaboration of local artists, musicians and Saidee Homant of “Fruitcake,” an artist collection. Zach’s studio is located on the second floor of the Old National Bank building located on the corner of Water Street and Second Avenue. He has already been hosting smaller pop-up shops for local artists in his studio on the last Friday of every month over the summer with the help of Saidee Homant. After the first few pop-ups in the studio, an interest grew among local artists. It became clear that a larger pop-up market event could be successful and looking out the window at the empty lot across the street, the idea began to take shape.

Zach brought the idea to the DDA in the spring as a representative of local artists and the other business owners in his building. I was excited about the opportunity to bring an event like this to our community. It was something I had started to research when I first began my job at the DDA in the summer of 2018. I had grown up in an arsty and crafty family that sold handmade clothes, dolls, jewelry and more every year at local art and craft shows like Art on the Bay, the Ella White Bazaar, and others. To provide another space and opportunity like that to local artisans in our community and Michigan at large was one of my very first goals in my new role at the DDA.

After getting the go ahead from the DDA’s Marketing and Promotions Committee and the DDA Board, we started planning.

The small group of business owners behind the Rise Artisan Market are all located in the old National Bank Building. Along with Zach Irving of Irving Entertainment and myself, there is Ceiara Toth of Ceiara Ann Photography, Timothy Allen of Chippewa Valley Mercantile, and Curtis Merril of Lines and Drips.

We knew we wanted to bring a fun event downtown that had the potential to grow over the years and draw people to our community. We envisioned a space to showcase the vibrant arts community we have in our area We wanted to create a space to welcome people of all ages, backgrounds, and identities. We knew we needed a short, catchy name… After a few meetings brainstorming our vision for the market and pacing around throwing out names — Rise Artisan Market was born. 

“Rise is an idea that came about in collaboration with artists from all walks of life,” Zach Irving shared. “As a young artist in a rural area, I know firsthand how hard it is to develop into a young professional in your medium. With a lack of resources, schooling, and a smaller market, it is an uphill battle that almost feels like a mountain. But with technology becoming cheaper and information being easier to access, a young artist can become a professional in a much more efficient way. We strive to do work that we love and look to give back to our supporters in life. For me, that is my family, friends and community. Saidee Homant from “Fruitcake/Soul Sister Saidee” came to me with a collaboration of artists from all backgrounds to showcase their art for sale in a pop-up shop setting for only one day. I thought it was a great idea and we ran with it. After each Pop-up Shop, artists, musicians, and craft makers alike started literally “popping up!” They wanted to be a part of this growth, but we needed more space. Reaching out to the DDA of Alpena, we expressed that we needed more space to keep the momentum going and give the community a fresh look at craft and art shows. This is when the idea for Rise was formed. We rise out of Alpena, rise up to showcase our talent, and we rise to the occasion to collaborate and grow the arts community in this area.”

Rise Artisan Market will include:

  • an area for vendors selling primarily high-quality, unique, Michigan-made goods and products,
  • music from several local artists—follow their Facebook page for updates on who exactly will be performing
  • a small food court and bar area in the street on Water Street

Getting involved in Rise Artisan Market was very important to me. Last September, my uncle Matt said something to me after I made a joke about an event I wished to see in our community that totally reshaped my perspective. He’s a pretty cool guy who is really involved in his community in Marquette, MI. He said to me, “If you feel there is a need for something in your community, it is your responsibility to make it happen.” That singular sentence, totally shifted my mentality and the way that I approached my job and my community. Rise Artisan Market and the people behind it is a beautiful demonstration of that mentality.

I love the arts and I will always be an advocate for the power of art and artists. One of the most life-changing classes I took in college was a class cross-listed as an environment AND an arts class. For a semester, I learned about green and natural building methods and history and then for the month of May in 2017, I built a strawbale house with about 20 other students at U of M’s biostation. It was in that class that I first discovered the power of not only art, but artists and since then I have consistently experienced the amazing power that a handful of artists have in activating and building their communities. Locally, we have awesome organizations like Art in the Loft and Thunder Bay Theatre (which I mention because I am directly involved in several committees at both organizations) that bring arts education to our youth and fine arts opportunities to our community regardless of age, ability, experience, identity, and background. Art in the Loft’s fish mural was created in part by this community and is a constant visual reminder in our downtown that we are capable of creating beautiful things together. Thunder Bay Theatre’s Let’s Talk diversity panels started difficult conversations in our community and have been well attended each time by 50 or more community members actively seeking to understand those that are different than themselves. Art is powerful, and it is truly leading our community forward. I am truly excited to be a part of this project.

And so are all of the others involved in Rise Artisan Market. Ceiara Toth is in charge of organizing and coordinating the vendors. She was a part of the early planning of the idea with Zach and Saidee. “Living in Ann Arbor, an artistic hub in Michigan, I thrived working with creative individuals. When I moved to Alpena five years ago, I knew I wanted to be a part of an artist community. It became a goal of mine to grow, expand, and collaborate with other local artists. Everything we have created in Rise Artisan Market embodies that idea of collaboration. I’m looking forward to seeing what we create together.”

That’s the recurring theme when we meet as a group; creating together. Rise Artisan Market is a celebration of collaboration in all forms. It has been created through collaboration and we hope that it will be a place for people to come together to support the arts and our community. Because Rise Artisan Market was inspired by this community and the amazing things that we are capable of when we rise up together.

The Alpena DDA is proud to support the Market by managing and providing the bar area and aiding in some of the planning logistics of the event. The DDA is also hosting a Pumpkin Carving Contest among downtown business owners. Business owners are encouraged to carve a pumpkin and display it somewhere in their store for customers to vote for their favorite. The winner, determined by popular vote, will receive a marketing photography package valued at $300! Guides to check out the pumpkins and voting materials will be available at the DDA Informational Booth at Rise Artisan Market.

The business owners are responsible for coordinating vendors, musicians and other partnerships. If you’re interested in becoming a vendor and would like more information about how to get involved, email michiganrise45@gmail.com!

For more information about Rise Artisan Market please email downtownalpenami@gmail.com. If you have questions about being a vendor or are interested in a vendor application, please email michiganrise45@gmail.com 


Kingsli Kraft wrote this article for Blog Downtown Alpena. Kingsli is and Alpena native and a graduate of the University of Michigan. She now works at the Alpena Downtown Development Authority as the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. She volunteers with Art in the Loft and Thunder Bay Theatre on several committees. She enjoys reading, writing, yoga, hiking, caring for all of her plants and trying new recipes. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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