Made Local Marketplace a hub for county artisans
By MELODY KARPINSKI / Santa Rosa Correspondent
It’s an unassuming little shop on Fifth Street, tucked between a storefront church and a mid-level office building.
But the Made Local Marketplace is more than just a novelty. It’s a community of vibrant people who are looking to create jobs and highlight local artistry in Sonoma County.
“It’s asking the question, ‘How do you enable people to make a business viable?’” said Pam Dale, a retired PG&E tech who now sells her woven work in the shop. “It’s about creating resiliency.”
The marketplace is the brainchild of Kelley Rajala and opened its doors in December 2010. Since then, the marketplace has grown to feature the work and products of more than 300 local artists and small businesses.
“I’m a big believer in local jobs and the whole concept of economic localization,” said Rajala, who worked in her family’s medical supply business before becoming involved with local non-profit efforts.
The marketplace is also a branch of the Share Exchange, a co-op that provides shared workspace for fledgling small business owners and artists. In October, it procured space next door to open up shareable office space and conference rooms.
But the storefront marketplace is where the Share Exchange’s work can be best appreciated. Dozens of unique, handcrafted items fill the shelves, including woven items, local food products, jewelry, leatherwork, children’s toys and artwork.
“Local artists really don’t have a year-round outlet for their work,” said Rajala. “Part of the original vision was to provide that.”
The project has been embraced quickly.
“I found this store back in February, and just thought it was so cool,” said Adriann Saslow, the marketplace’s current manager. “I asked how many artists they had who participated, and when (Rajala) said 240, I said, ‘Make it 241.’”
Saslow eagerly got involved with Made Local, selling her homemade laundry soap in the storefront and pitching in on the staff. It’s a situation similar to many of the artists and staff members who have a vested interest in the shop. Many even have co-ownership.
“It’s just such an engaging and welcoming place,” said Saslow. “They really do care about community and that personal touch.”
As part of their community efforts, Made Local Marketplace participated in a “Local Shopping for Local Schools” campaign during October and November, donating 20 percent of all proceeds to participating Santa Rosa schools.
“We all know how severe the school budget cuts have been,” said Rebecca Valentine, the Share Exchange’s community outreach coordinator. “The Share Exchange (and) Made Local Marketplace wanted to show our support and came up with the idea.”
The marketplace also has several holiday-themed events planned. They will host a Girls’ Night Out event on Thursday, along with other Fifth Street vendors, with discounts on marketplace products, dessert and massages.
Also on Thursday it will launch an “I Believe in Santa Rosa” project, which Rajala calls a sort of “hometown pride effort,” featuring photo shoots with “Santa Kelley” on Thursday and Sunday afternoons and an “I Believe in Santa Rosa” T-shirt campaign.
In the meantime, Made Local is always on the lookout for more artists to showcase their work in the store.
“People in Sonoma County are thoughtful about what they buy,” said Rajala. “We wanted to make it really easy for the public to find locally made products, a sort of one-stop shop.”
The Made Local Marketplace and the Share Exchange are open daily at 531 Fifth St., 583-7667, madelocalmarketplace.com.