As gift-giving season hits, shoppers looking to buy local art, crafts and handmade items for the holidays will have a proliferating list of options, from galleries and fairs to pop-up markets at breweries and restaurants.
“There definitely was an uptick this year,” said Lisa Simon, owner of Radius Gallery in downtown Missoula. Radius' Holiday Market opened on Nov. 8 and runs through Dec. 24. Simon sees the influx in markets this year and the growth of her own as positive for business.
“It’s the rising tides that lift all boats. The more Missoula is seen as a place that has the attention to the arts, the more people will come here,” she said. “So it could help a tourist market. And it helps turn people's attention to art instead of tech in order to buy presents.”
From gallery shows to the Holiday MADE Fair to pop-ups at Western Cider and Caffe Dolce, Missoula is swimming in holiday shopping opportunities.
Radius has been holding their holiday show since they opened in 2014, and it’s grown every year since. The small works show features up to five pieces each from more than 120 artists. Simon said it’s a chance to see several artists that you love in one room.
“It’s kind of a who’s who of Missoula artists, and they’re doing small works ... so collectors can catch really good deals from artists like Beth Lo and Stephanie Frostad that they’ve been having their eye on and want to include someone like that in their collection.”
Maeta Kaplan browsed the chock-full gallery on Tuesday in search of a gift for the holidays. She pointed out to Simon a couple of pieces she was contemplating in hopes she'd be able to snag them before a new round of art is put up on Nov. 30. The gallery swaps out the art throughout the show.
“I love Radius. I come in here all the time, but I particularly like to come during this small show,” Kaplan said.
It’s also an opportunity for emerging artists to get their work in a gallery for the first time, Simon said.
“They might not have a body of work that could warrant a show, but they get their name out there, they get some excitement going about their work.”
More established artists are also featured and at more affordable prices than might be seen throughout the rest of the year.
“We’re getting just really good art, and the artists are willing to take their prices down a little to be in the show, so the values that are available here are really high,” she said.
The show concentrates on bringing fine art into the realm of affordability.
For shoppers looking for that variety in a larger venue, the Missoula Holiday MADE Fair is the biggest market in the area of its kind.
“Every year it seems to get more popular and a little bit more crazy,” said Carol Lynn Lapotka, founder of the MADE Fair.
The holiday installment held in the University of Montana Adams Center will include more than 220 artists and nonprofits selling everything from leather work and jewelry to paintings and prints.
“You can get everything on your list,” Lapotka said. “From kiddo stuff to man stuff. We try to make it a diverse crowd as well. And everything is handcrafted.”
Lapkota said around 25% of the artists are new each year, so customers who have experienced the Holiday MADE Fair before will encounter vendors they maybe haven't seen.
This year’s fair is offering VIP passes for $10, which get you in the door an hour before everyone else. Lapkota said the first hour of the fair is busiest, so VIP guests will get a first glimpse of the event before the crowds pour in. Proceeds from the VIP tickets will go to Hellgate Roller Derby.
From galleries downtown, to the Holiday MADE Fair, to brewery pop-ups, the sheer volume of venues for artists to sell work is a boon for their business during the winter months.
Local printmaker David Miles Lusk said he’s been participating in the holiday and winter markets around Missoula for 10 years, this being his busiest yet.
“A lot of the ones that I’m doing I’ve done in the past, but this year there are a whole new crop of things that popped up,” Lusk said. “A few I had to turn down and choose because they are the same date. I’m looking at my calendar and have a pop-up every weekend until Christmas.”
Lusk said he’s seen an increase in pop-up markets at local small businesses, like breweries and restaurants.
“Three years ago I probably would have been turning my nose up to doing so many, but now I’m like, ‘The more the merrier.’” he said. “Every venue has different patrons, so it gives you more exposure to do as many as possible.”
For his business, participating in the holiday and winter markets is vital.
“I feel like I make the bulk of my money during the holidays,” he said.
He’s scheduled to show his work at the Caffe Dolce Art Bazaar on Nov. 24 and Northside KettleHouse on Dec. 8, among others. His partner, Samantha Balk, is organizing the Western Cider Winter Mercantile on Nov. 30, and his work will appear there as well.
Balk emphasized the friendly, homey atmosphere at the Western Cider Winter Merc compared to other larger holiday markets.
“There will be cider and doughnuts, so it’s not just for shopping. It really has a community feel,” she said. “Everyone’s friends and everyone is supporting each other and everyone wants their neighbor to do really well.”
The Western Cider event makes an effort to bring in a variety of artists across all mediums whose work doesn’t appear in local stores, she said.
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“There’s only one person selling wreaths, only one selling apothecary, everything’s very different and varied.”
They also try to find a few artists who may not be doing any other pop-ups.
And as the number of pop-ups increases, Balk said it’s harder and harder to find artists to exclusively show at the Western Cider event.
“It’s definitely becoming much more difficult. There’s a few people doing all of them.”
Caffe Dolce Art Bazaar
Sunday, Nov. 24, 5-8 p.m.
Western Cider Winter Mercantile
Saturday, Nov. 30, noon-6 p.m.
Small Biz Saturday (all around town)
Saturday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Montana Art Festival at the Hilton Garden Inn
Friday, Nov. 29, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Montgomery Distillery Pop-up Shop
Sunday, Dec. 1, 2-6 p.m.
Indigenous Art Market at Downtown Dance Collective
First Friday, Dec. 6 and First Friday, Jan. 3, 5-7 p.m.
Missoula Holiday MADE Fair
Sunday, Dec. 8., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (free entry), 10 a.m.-11 a.m. (VIP access, cost $10)
KettleHouse Northside Holiday Pop-Up Market
Thursday, Dec. 12, 5-8 p.m.
Makers GILD Holiday Pop-Up
Saturday, Dec. 14, 12-5 p.m.
Radius Gallery Holiday Show
Through Dec. 24
Frame of Mind Smaller Works Show
Month of December