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New public market blooms at longstanding Vernon business

Swan Lake Market and Garden is hosting 75 vendors at its new weekend markets
Julene Koslowski, owner of Camelot Haven Alpacas, sets up in a vendor booth at Swan Lake Market and Garden’s new public market Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

There’s more happening than usual this fall and winter at Swan Lake Market and Garden.

The Vernon grocer and garden centre is making the most of the extra space on its property now that the gardening season has fully winded down. The store is offering patrons a public market made up of roughly 75 local artisans and vendors who occupy a dozen new wooden booths on a rotating basis.

New owner Derrick Cooke has been running the landmark business for close to two years. Prior to Cooke taking over the business, the store would close over the winter months. But with the public market up and running for the first time, Cooke wants people to know that Swan Lake is a year-round business.

“They (the previous owners) had been open for years in the winter prior to our administration but had been closing in recent history during the winter, so it has been a bit of a challenge as local community members haven’t really been aware of us being open,” Cooke said. “But we’re open year-round now and we have a full grocery offering and wellness department.”

The new public market capitalizes on the extra space at the business now that the gardening season is over.

“As a garden centre we’re quite seasonal and as the season winds down we don’t have a lot going on out there, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to partner with the local artisans and community vendors to do something,” Cooke said.

At only $20 per day for the wood booths and $10 for other pop-up spaces on site, vendors have an economical space to sell their wares at the public market.

“I think it’s a win-win to be able to offer this space at quite reasonable rates for small local vendors to have a platform and leverage our traffic to get exposure in the community,” Cooke said.

The vendors are only set up on the weekends, but from Dec. 3-11 the market will be open for the entire week — dubbed Swan Lake’s Christmas market week.

“It will be a good kick-off with our Santa photos on the 3rd and 4th with the public market as scheduled, and then the 5th through the 9th to really just have that open-air Christmas market,” Cooke said.

Visitors will find a wide range of goods at the market, from gems and jewelry to coffee roasters, photography and art to Christmas crafts.

Julene Koslowski, owner of Camelot Haven Alpacas, was filling her booth with handmade gloves and toques on Nov. 19.

“I think it’s a lovely idea,” she said of the public market.

Another vendor, Elaine Armstrong, who makes glass-fused Christmas ornaments, said business has been slow at the market, but she’s hoping the word will get out and attract more customers.

“The market is coming along, it’s starting to get a real Christmas atmosphere because they’ve got wood heaters and they’ve got the fire going so it’s looking like quite a festival out here,” she said. “People should come and check it out.”

Depending on how much business the market attracts, the hope is to make the public market an annual tradition.

“I’m hoping that the reception is positive and we can do this next year and the following year and create a tradition in the fall and winter that people can rely on,” Cooke said.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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