San Diego Artisans Run Virtual Market During Holiday Shopping Season

San Diego Made – a collective of local artisans – hopes to be able to run its annual Holiday Market in person at the end of January 2021

San Diego Made Factory/Instagram

A group of San Diego artisans who had planned to host an in-person holiday market this weekend before the stay-at-home order changed things will, instead, showcase their work virtually.

San Diego Made – a collective of local makers and artisans – is currently hosting a virtual shopping fair, helping small vendors sell their unique goods that are handmade in San Diego.

The collective hosts a holiday market every year, which has become an important showcase for local artisans – and their busiest and most profitable time of the year.

But this year, things are, of course, different.

San Diego Made had planned to host its holiday market in the parking lot of Grossmont Center in La Mesa this Saturday and Sunday featuring about 100 local artisans.

By Wednesday – due to restrictions stemming from the regional stay-at-home order impacting many sectors in San Diego County – organizers Kristin Dinnis and Samantha Santos had to pivot.

Santos said the in-person market had been postponed to next month – Jan. 30 and Jan. 31. If it happens, Santos and Dinnis said it will be a big way for locals to support small vendors struggling from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

For now, though, there’s still a way to shop small and local this holiday season.

San Diego Made is hosting its Virtual Fair through Dec. 31 with vendors selling everything from art, jewelry, and clothing to homemade food and beverages, housewares and body/wellness products. You can learn more about the local vendors and their products here.

Dinnis said San Diego Made tries to host markets throughout the year. They were able to squeeze one in last month under COVID-19 safety guidelines and, for many small vendors, it was the best opportunity they’ve had in a while to connect with the community and sell their handmade items.

Santos said that when she reached out to artisans to join the market, they were ready and excited.

“A lot of go-getters, for sure,” she said.

And that’s just it. Despite the ups and downs of 2020, Dinnis and Santos said the spirit of San Diego’s small markers and artisans remains strong, resilient and – most importantly – creative.

Santos said the artisans who work with San Diego Made are just trying to get themselves out there, stay busy and keep customers happy.

“People are getting really creative – they’re finding new ways to promote themselves,” Dinnis added.

And they’re far from defeated in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

“As far back in history – you know, the Great Depression or any time in history when the economy is going down – it seems to give artists an opportunity to thrive,” Dinnis told NBC 7. “I’m not really sure the reason why, but for the most part, it’s been inspiring for people to find creative ways to work together.”

“It’s given them an opportunity to step back and focus on their product because they may have lost their 9-to-5 job, so they really have to home in on that,” she added.

San Diego Made was founded in 2014 by Dinnis and other local artists, craftsmen, and makers who were inspired to create a united coalition of artisans in America’s Finest City.

The collective offers a monthly membership to local artisans looking to network and build their brands, but Dinnis said about half of San Diego Made’s memberships have been cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“It’s just another expense right now,” she said.

Still, Dinnis and Santos said membership or no membership, San Diego Made is committed to helping local artisans get themselves out there and weather the pandemic storm.

San Diego Made runs a factory on Commercial Street, just east of Interstate 5. Artists can rent out their own studios or office space there.

Dinnis said the factory is still up and running – all under COVID-19 guidelines. Artists are keeping a safe distance from one another and wearing masks inside.

And, while collaborations and workshops in the San Diego Made Factory certainly look a lot different in the pandemic-era, the idea remains the same: To serve as a space to keep inspiring, creating, and churning out goods that can only be made in San Diego.

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