By Tim Kalinowski
It’s community market day in Gull Lake and the Elks Hall is buzzing with activity. People mull around looking at the offerings of the various vendors, having coffee and home-made cookies in the cafeteria, or greeting neighbours and friends with laughter and handshakes in the aisles. All around there are little wonders to behold — tables filled with fresh baking, scented candles, garden-grown vegetables, Tupperware, home-made jewellery and even “The Pig Spleen Man” t-shirts from Tompkins, the hometown of Gus Wickstrom. Everywhere you look there are bright colours and beautiful smells and smiling faces as vendors and customers chat and laugh and pass the time of day.
Started in 2013, the Gull Lake Community Market was created to bring a little life to the community’s downtown area throughout the summer months, and to provide a place for local home businesses and artisans to sell or profile their wares. In just two seasons the market is now attracting a diverse group of vendors and has become a popular hub for community interaction.
Ed Lowenberger helps run the Community Market for the Town of Gull Lake and the local volunteer committee. He says the market is a key component of an overall plan to help revitalize Gull Lake’s downtown core after years of slow decline.
“It’s something unique. We just thought it would be fun to give people something different, something else to do and something to see. And also to try and attract people back into our downtown; and trying to turn that slow decline back around and re-spark some activity and renew the energy that used to be in the downtown core.”
Lowenberger says the Gull Lake Community Market is always looking for new vendors and he hopes to see the gradual expansion of the market to make it into a major seasonal tourist attraction in the Gull Lake area.
“We try to offer the widest variety that we can, and hopefully a little bit for everybody,” says Lowenberger. “I would eventually like to see this grow and expand. Whether its stays indoors or not, I don’t know what the future holds. But I would really like to see this move out to an outdoor venue eventually…We envision a much bigger market as we get more vendors.”
Doreen Stenson has one of the largest tables in the bi-weekly market where she sells everything from Tupperware to fresh-baked cinnamon buns. She says what she enjoys about being in the market is the interactions between all those who come out.
“It’s just being with people and letting them know that you have these things to sell. They can’t see that when you are at home. But it is also really enjoyable being here. I am really looking forward to the rest of the summer.”
Cindy Logan of South Hill Designs says the market is a nice easy way of getting the word out to potential customers in the area about her small make-your-own locket franchise.
“I wanted to get my name out there so people would be familiar with what I have, which is make-your-own-locket jewellery. I’ve been talking to a lot of people. There are more people stopping at the table, and I am getting a lot more interest every week. So that’s really important to me.”
Even though she has only had a table in the market for a few weeks, Logan says what she has seen so far has made her a market-believer.
“Honestly when I got up today I was really looking forward to going to the market because I get to see all the people. I can get out of the house and I look forward to seeing what’s going to be here at the market. It’s always a bit different than last week or the week before. I would say to those interested in coming out to just come down and talk to some people, and come and see all we have here.”
Lynette Collier too has only been coming to the market a few short weeks to help sell “Pig Spleen Man” t-shirts from Tompkins, but is loving the atmosphere of the market and the exposure they have been getting to keep awareness of the Tompkins famous annual Pig Spleen weather-forecast in the public’s mind.
“I can’t really think of another place where we could go and sit for an afternoon and get exposure. It’s as good as anything we can find. It’s been fun and we’ve had lot of people who have come by to visit so it’s turned out good.”
The Gull Lake Community Market goes from 2-6 p.m. every second Thursday through September. The next market day is June 18. For more information contact the Gull Lake Town Office at 306-672-3361