The Philly Mart, a “carefully curated” artisan and vintage market, will make its outdoor debut on Saturday, Oct. 18, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Manayunk’s recently-opened Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center.
Co-curators Renee Pedro and Kiersten Watson Lenat have been friends since meeting in Manayunk 20 years ago. Pedro, a self-taught housewares designer, says the idea for an upscale mart came from her experience working as a vendor.
“I see what is right and what’s wrong,” and what distinguishes The Philly Mart from its competitors, Pedro says, is the level of the products: “We do want antiques, we do want vintage, but we don’t want to be a flea market.”
She and Lenat, a realtor and artist who studied fashion at Philadelphia University, want each booth at The Philly Mart to “look like a little store.”
Vendors and shoppers experienced The Philly Mart this past winter after the city’s decision to renovate the Venice Island Recreation Center delayed opening plans.
While news of an impending snowstorm hampered crowds the first time around, a second one in February (held in Restoration Hardware’s Main Street space) drew large numbers. Pedro attributes this success to increased marketing.
They also became better prepared at handling the logistics behind a pop-up enterprise, including securing insurance and portable toilets, organizing a trash removal plan and setting up tents.
The grand opening
By the time shoppers arrive at 11 a.m. on Oct. 18, the landscape should “look like a mall,” says Pedro, full of artwork including vintage collectibles, paintings, jewelry, clothing and housewares.
Jane Lipton, Executive Director of the Manayunk Development Corporation, says the MDC is “thrilled that Philly Mart chose Manayunk as their home” and is “eagerly anticipating the variety of merchandise” it will offer.
According to its website, The Philly Mart will hold events at Venice Island once a month between April and June and September through November, and at least one indoor winter exhibition.
Pedro says the monthly showing makes the experience “more of an event” for locals who don’t want to leave their neighborhood for an aesthetically pleasing shopping experience.
“Every market takes on the personality of the people who organize it. We want to stay away from what else is out there,” she says.
Painter Diedra Stone-McGrory of Fine Art Painting made her market debut with The Philly Mart last winter.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better market to start my career,” she says. “Kiersten and Renee [have] an eye for quality and unique art pieces, jewelry and ceramics. I felt like I was selling with the crème’ de la crème of artisans from the Philadelphia area.”
The Philly Mart is still accepting vendor applications through their website for the grand opening event.