The talent we have here on Vancouver Island is astounding.
There are 32 registered farmers markets, at least double that for craft markets, and just as many brick and mortar stores on the island. This means shopping local and supporting growers, bakers and makers will be one of the most meaningful and simple things we can do this holiday.
I’m Mei, the Co-founder of Vancouver Island Market Ltd, and we have over 200 vendors participating in our 100% local winter market. From beer, wine and spirits all made on the island, to bath and beauty products, jewellery, clothing, baked goods, handbags, houseware and paintings (to name a few categories), there’s just so much to share and each local find unique.
As a challenge, I’ve been tasked to narrow down a plethora of handmade gifts you can find all over Vancouver Island to just a handful in Nanaimo, including those you can find on December 14-16th at our winter market at Nanaimo North Town Centre (marked with *).
Farmship Grower’s T-Shirt
Farmer Brown and his team work hard to provide fresh produce 3 out of the 4 seasons a year at Farmer’s Markets, CSA box programs (which I participated during a busy spring season), and to local restaurants and non-profit organizations such as Gabriel’s Gourmet Café, Nanaimo Foodshare, and La Stella Trattoria to name a few. During the winter months, while they plan their next year’s crops, a great way to give them a thumbs up for their job well done is to go grab a Farmship Growers T-shirt at Local by Lucid on 13 Commercial Street. They come in different earthly colours and sizes and make an excellent gift for the food garden lovers in your life.
Island Java Bag * – Totes and more
I’ve purchased several different totes from Jackie of Island Java Bag over the years and love raving about her products because of her vision and her attention to detail to the materials she uses and the people she acquires her materials from – mostly from local coffee shops and businesses, like Wildplay Element Parks for backpack handles, and growler carriers. Even her exfoliate scrubs are made from thrown away ground coffee (in case you don’t have a way to compost your daily dose of coffee!). You can find one of her totes currently at Cedar Farmers Market, on her website or at Vancouver Island Market.
Jewelz of the Isle *- Unique crystals and gemstones
Tina is a local artisan business featuring unique, crystal, stone, and semi-precious designs. Each handcrafted piece is one-of-a-kind and all components are ethically sourced from around the world. All designs are created with much love & intention and are affordably offered so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful, wearable, & timeless art treasure. Currently, you can find her beautiful pieces at Lobelia’s Lair located at 321 Wesley Street #8.
Blyss by Laura* – Nanaimo Bar Soap
My family lives on the mainland and during the holidays, I was looking for some stocking stuffers that I could send to all my family and friends off-island. When I found Laura’s soap, in the shape of a Nanaimo bar, I knew I had to get that for everyone. What I love about her product is that she states on her labels all the ingredients she uses and adds local botanicals to create a natural and authentic experience. She carries her products at various local brick and mortar stores such as at Black Door Décor in Ladysmith at 2-740 1st ave.
FaeGarten Clay* – Hand built mugs and pottery
Brenda retired a few years ago and decided she would work part-time to supplement her income making one of a kind pottery for the home and garden. Little did she know her talent and how much she enjoys mingling with locals at farmers markets and craft shows. Her mugs were sold out at a collective craft tour I hosted in my home studio in Yellow Point but currently, you can find her
mugs at Islandish located at 4-1420 Windgrove Street.
Craig’s Workshop* Handmade wooden toys and gifts
We all know living in a digital age means lots of online games and computer time. For parents who understand playing with toys and building blocks as an educational tool, Craig’s handmade pieces will surely delight the tactile savvy kids in your life. Many of his pieces use locally sourced and reclaim materials and he also takes custom orders. Currently, he has some of his wooden toys available at Nanaimo Art Gallery at 150 Commercial Street.
Adam and his family run their business “in the wilds of Vancouver Island”. Being close to nature, they produce, print and frame a collection of vintage-inspired canvases and posters. If you’re looking for a gift for the home, these make a great addition to any nature lover and explorers. Currently, their prints are available at Blue Poppy 300-60 Commercial St. and Red Living 5299 Rutherford Rd.
MJ focuses on creating lovingly-made gifts using higher quality fabrics and materials to create items such as her popular beeswax wraps. She frequently sells out of her wraps but if you don’t find her at markets, you can be sure to find her beeswax wraps at Nanaimo Art Gallery on Commercial Street.
Last but not least, a hidden gem indeed! A Snuneymuxw fashion design business that draws upon deeply rooted designs from their parents, Ay Lelum are recipients of the 2018 Indigenous Business of the Year award. They are an Artist Family creating wearable works of art and recently showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week for their Spring/Summer’19 collection. Some of their ready wear collection is available at Nanaimo Art Gallery on Commercial Street.
I could go on forever about all the gifts and places to go to shop for your favourite handmade goods by local talent on the island but to see for yourself this holiday and be inspired by all the artists is an experience not to be missed.
Join us on December 14-16th at Nanaimo North Town Centre (old Sears building) for 3 days of live entertainment, make-and-take workshops, food and beverage sales including Longwood Brewery, Merridale Ciders, and other local beer, wine and spirit sales plus games and giveaways for family and kids to enjoy. You can find all the details at the Vancouver Island Market website.