Artist James Davis sits by the left back entrance playing with a crossword puzzle until a customer walks up, comments on how beautiful his pieces are and purchases one of the items on display. This transaction is the sole reason why he likes the Meridian Arts and Craft Marketplace.
“It’s regular you know, if you establish yourself people know you’re going to be in a certain place and I do a lot of business with repeat clients,” said James who is a handmade sterling silver and multimedia artist. “It gets me out in the public, I get to meet my clientele.”
The Meridian Arts and Craft Marketplace is seated under the pavilion behind the Meridian Municipal building. The event occurs every fourth Sunday from June to September from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Usually there are around 25 to 30 vendors, who just like Davis, wants to come out, sell their work and to meet their clientele.
“We have a lot of regulars that enjoy it and look forward to it,” said Sheryl Stephens, who is the marketplace manager and the creator of Cool Moon Creations. “We all have the same spot every time.”
Vendors are not required to live in the township. They are only asked to obtain a tax license from the state to ensure they are paying their sales tax and they are also required to pay the township a yearly or monthly fee to secure their spot at the marketplace. After the following requirements are complete the vendors are allowed to sell anything handmade. This can range from jewelry all the way to woodworking pens.
The marketplace is hidden behind a small hill and drivers passing by cannot see the event going on. There are some vendors and customers that wish that the marketplace could get the same attention as the Farmer’s Market, which takes place in the same location every Wednesday and Saturday.
“I keep forgetting about it,” said Okemos resident Carol Simmons, who stopped by the marketplace with a friend after church on Sunday. “I wish it was a little more often, and I wish they would have some of the vendors here at the Farmers Market.”
The lack of knowledge about the marketplace makes it harder for the vendors to see a consistent clientele. Last month the pavilion was packed with customers making the event worthwhile, but this month was the total opposite. There were only 11 vendors there and a handful of customers that would come in periodically.
“It’s just strictly a crap shot you don’t know what is going to happen,” said Davis. “Last month at the very end of the day I had two sells that made the whole day worthwhile.”
Stephens says there is talk about moving the marketplace elsewhere, but for now the vendors have to get as much free publication as they can to remind the citizens that they are there.
“We are really hard to find. We are kind of hidden back here and I wish we could get a little bit more signage,” said Stephens. “I’m hoping we can get the township to advertise us a little bit better like they do the farmers market.”