Jodi’s Journal: Shop local, stay safe and support downtown

Aug. 16, 2020

I decided in recent weeks that living during this pandemic means we each exist somewhere on a spectrum when it comes to determining our tolerance for risk.

And, much like human DNA, no two individuals are exactly alike. Even among households and close friends, I’ve witnessed varying degrees of comfort when it comes to living during COVID-19. We all exist on separate places along this spectrum – and places that can change depending on our circumstances, knowledge gained and, candidly, sheer fatigue with all of this.

So I’ve tried, hopefully somewhat successfully, to accept that in how I interact and react with others. I have friends I really miss seeing, but I accept they aren’t ready to venture out much yet. I have places I really miss visiting, but I stay away because there aren’t enough precautions being taken to satisfy the level of risk I’m willing to assume.

With that in mind, we had a decision to make involving an annual event we really enjoy bringing to our community. Our 605 Made Night Market is a one-night-a-year chance to shop locally made merchandise under the stars against a backdrop of local music, food and entertainment.

Fortunately, my friend and 605 Made partner, Knotty Gnome Variety & Salvage owner Stacy Wengler, and I exist in similar places along the COVID-risk spectrum. This made deciding what to do about our event somewhat easier. We ultimately decided to open it up for vendors, gauge the response, watch COVID’s presence in our community and then make a determination.

That didn’t bring complete clarity, either.

“Definitely, we had a range of how comfortable makers were with working during this time,” Wengler told me. “Some of them themselves have health concerns, so that automatically took away the option of being able to do public shows.”

At the same time, we’ve heard from numerous makers who are thrilled to have a venue to sell. Some have to make adjustments to their typical setup, such as eliminating sampling, but for the most part “they’re still able to set up their show and get out there,” Wengler said.

“But with all this, so many of the shows have been canceled, and it truly has completely eliminated income flow for many makers, which is really tough for them. For some, their only outlet is shows. So the fact that we’re able to host this show outdoors, which increases the safety of it, I think is really important.”

So it’s on. As long as the weather cooperates, we’ll be open for downtown visitors from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, in the parking lot of Cherapa Place.

What’s also important to note is we would not have been able to offer this without the sponsorship support of The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, which has backed our efforts to support micro-entrepreneurs from the beginning, and the ownership of Cherapa Place, which generously allows us to hold the event in their parking lot.

This year, we’re taking up considerably more of that lot.

“We have a larger layout, which will allow for a lot more room for guests, for shoppers and for those who don’t necessarily want to shop but want to come for entertainment or food,” Wengler said. “There will be a lot more public space.”

You’ll also find hand sanitizing stations throughout the marketplace, as you shop works from about two dozen makers, eat at the food trucks and enjoy live music and even a magician.

“It’s a good number where we can be spread out better,” Wengler said. “I’m comfortable with how many people we have, and everybody seems excited.”

We are excited. We’re also hoping our guests will join us in taking precautions. Let me be blunt about this point: We would really appreciate it if you brought a mask. I’m not saying you need to wear it the entire time, as we are outdoors and you can easily spread out, but when you approach our vendors and are near other people, just put it on, please. I don’t want people to pass on shopping because they don’t feel comfortable enough, and erring on the side of caution seems the best way to reach that point.

You can even buy one, as I did, from Wengler and potentially from our other makers.

“I’m going to have as many as possible, adult and children’s handmade masks, and there may be other makers who have them too,” she said. “Remember to be respectful of the other shoppers and the other makers and people’s space.”

You’ll find me wearing a mask that looks like the Sioux Falls flag because, really, how can you own that and not wear it to 605 Made?

We hope this isn’t our final event of the year, but being realistic, we know it could be. Our annual holiday show is in a parking garage and draws thousands into a fairly small space. So unless something dramatically shifts, that might need to look different this year.

My advice: Think about your holiday shopping now, support these local makers and just take basic precautions as you do.

“There’s no way to tell going forward what the craft shows and art shows will look like,” Wengler agreed. “Take advantage of the outdoor ones available now because that could look totally different this winter.”

We hope to see you there! And while visiting us, please continue to stay downtown and support the businesses there. This has been a tremendously challenging year to be a locally owned business. Do some extra shopping, eat a meal, treat yourself to dessert. We all deserve it.

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Jodi’s Journal: Shop local, stay safe and support downtown

Our 605 Made Night Market returns this weekend — with changes and with a chance to give local artists some much-needed love.

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