Ellensburg Night Market opens doors for local microbusinesses

Final event approaching on Sept. 21

Little Perennials booth filled with handmade bags. Photos by Katherine Camarata.

Katherine Camarata, Lead Editor

The soulful, emotion-filled tones of local music duo Spiced Rye drifted over a curious crowd weaving through tents offering hand-made goods, food and works of art at the third installation of the Ellensburg Night Market on Aug. 17. 

The Ellensburg Night Market is located in the parking lot of The Early Bird eatery behind soon-to-be-open business Enchantment Brewing on Main St. The market has been held on the third Wednesday of every month since May, and the final event will take place on Sept. 21 from 5 – 9 p.m. 

According to Night Market Coordinator Lindsey Boisso, the purpose of the event is to give local businesses with no “brick and mortar” storefront a space to vend and offer services. This is one of many intended benefits of the Night Market.

“It brings people downtown on an off night,” Boisso said. “We try to look at vendors that weren’t able to get into the farmer’s market and allow an outlet for them.”

Kelle Vandenberg, Board President of the Ellensburg Downtown Association, said she hopes the Night Market increases visibility for local microbusinesses.

“In addition to that, we have found that the big success has been the businesses around the Night Market during the Night Market evenings show an increase in revenue,” Vandenberg said. “So we are lifting up a lot of the downtown businesses by supporting the microbusinesses.”

Booths featured photography, therapeutic products, clothing, wire-wrapped and beaded jewelry, leather and canvas bags, cookies and desserts, drinks, hand-painted signs, flowers and the ever-popular donkey petting zoo. Children and adults alike surrounded the donkey pen to pet two donkeys dutifully wearing flower crowns and swishing their tails.  

Chistian Thayer, a senior studying Political Science and Ceramics, said the music was one stand-out element of the event.

“The music’s really good, it really sets the atmosphere,” Thayer said. “Everyone is very kind and respectful of the space. There are some very lovely vendors here as well.”

Thayer said their favorite booths were Nest + Flow Handmade Goods selling candles, the Jewelry by Notable Exceptions booth and Erin Oostra’s booth selling original contemporary landscape prints. Thayer said they recommend the Night Market to CWU students.

“It injects the local economy, fosters community, helps people work on their craft, and gives them space and the means to pursue their craft,” Thayer said. “If you’re over 21, there’s beer and there’s donkeys to pet, so why wouldn’t you come?”

Local vendors like Jessica Miller, owner of Little Perennials handmade bags booth, were grateful for the opportunity to reconnect in a post pandemic era.

“We haven’t seen people out and about for the past couple years, and just being able to see friends I haven’t seen for a while or meeting new people and having conversations with them about my stuff and meeting other vendors has been a lot of fun,” Miller said.

According to Miller, the advantages of selling in a market versus online are the interactions she has while being out and about.

“I get to see how someone reacts when they pick up something that they like and take it home with them, and online you don’t really get to see that,” Miller said. “It spreads the word even more to other people, and helps build up the confidence of the vendor and inspires them to keep going.”

Miller said she feels privileged to participate in the Night Market because vendors are currently placed on a waitlist and not everybody who applies is able to reserve a space. She said the volunteers make the event really special by offering to take over for vendors to give them breaks.

Across the row from the Little Perennials booth, CWU alumna Alexa Blanken hosted the Wicked Wellness booth specializing in therapeutic CBD products designed to relieve pain or anxiety and help with sleep.

“This is my third time here, every time it gets busier and busier,” Blanken said. “I think it just really brings the community together and lets small businesses have a chance to shine.”

According to Boisso, the event has been well-attended and well-received by the city and college, and she hopes this trajectory will continue.

“I hope this will be a monthly or weekly event that we can continue to bring to the community and allow them to come and shop and experience,” Boisso said. 

According to Blanken, the crowd for the Night Market differs from the crowd at a daytime farmer’s market like the Roslyn market she also vends at. 

“There are different people coming after work, more locals coming out and having a good time, having drinks and listening to music,” Blanken said. 

Vandenberg said if students want to find out more and get involved with upcoming events downtown, they can visit their website ellensburgdowntown.org or they can visit their new office location at 109 E. 3rd St. 

See “Ellensburg Downtown Association welcomes students to upcoming events“.