Small Business Saturday may have passed, but that shouldn’t be the only day to consider shopping local this holiday season, or year round. Keep the spirit of shopping small by frequenting your local businesses, or supporting those without storefronts at some of the many, and we mean many, upcoming holiday markets featuring unique and often homemade goods from local vendors.
For small home-based businesses, the holiday season is primetime to make some money and to provide shoppers with one-of-a-kind gifts that can’t be found at the mall or on Amazon. Holiday boutiques have long been a part of Rockaway, with the big one at St. Camillus taking place for several decades. However, with more and more creative locals throwing their hat into the small business ring, the market for markets has exploded, and the calendar for the holiday season is jam-packed with opportunities for vendors to sell and for locals to pick up items made with local flare and a personal touch.
Local, Marybeth Galvin, owner of Betsy’s Bungalow, could be considered the holiday market queen. She’s bringing Betsy’s Bungalow to almost every holiday market in town this season and has been instrumental in helping get many of the markets off the ground for the first time. For Galvin, the markets are a good way for her to directly connect with her customer base at events that help connect the neighborhood.
“The small business market is booming, it’s a true representation of what our community really is: friendly, creative, close-knit and about having a good time. Supporting local businesses has many unique benefits. Shopping at the pop-up markets allows the chance for the customer to interact directly with the business owners and often product creators. The local vendors offer rare and personalized items that cannot be found in malls and chain stores,” Galvin said.
Betsy’s Bungalow is known for offering unique painted wood items like beach signs, bottle openers and more. But for this holiday season, she’s offering something even more special. “Betsy’s Bungalow is featuring a Rockaway Beach ornament this season which is handmade, filled with authentic Rockaway sand and a piece of the wooden boardwalk that was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy, making it a limited edition,” Galvin said.
Phil Groves, owner of the Far Rock Shop, which offers unique Far Rock-branded swag, from hats to t-shirts and more, agrees that the markets are a good way to connect with shoppers. “We love being out at the local markets, to engage with our fellow Rockawayites,” Groves said. “While our merchandise is not necessarily geared towards the holidays, it is organically geared to the community. So with the holiday season being such a festive and spirited time, it allows for us to connect even more with our customers, and be in an environment full of cheer and positive vibes.”
While selling their own unique products, both Galvin and Groves see the markets as a way to support all local small businesses and the community as a whole. “Shopping local this holiday season supports the Rockaway economy and helps our neighborhood to continue to thrive,” Galvin said. “At the markets, you also find other local artists and vendors, that do great work, that we also can support. It starts to feel like a fraternity of sorts... all the more enhanced during the holiday season,” Groves added.
Now is the time to get your holiday shopping done without having to leave the peninsula. Here’s a rundown of the upcoming holiday markets around the community:
Belle Harbor Yacht Club
Thursdays, November 29 &
6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
The BHYC Holiday Boutique has become another big holiday market since starting a few years ago. More than 40 vendors take over two floors of the BHYC (533 Beach 126th Street) and shoppers pack the building as they look for that perfect homemade gift. As an added bonus, this market has become a full-fledged event with live music, raffles, a 50/50 and a cash bar to take a break between shopping.
Broad Channel Craft Fair
Friday, November 30,
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, December 1,
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This one is a bit special as there will be raffles with proceeds benefitting the American Legion Comfort Warriors. At this small market at the American Legion Hall (209 Cross Bay Blvd), you’ll find jewelry, ornaments, goods, crafts and more.
Gliders’ Holiday Market
December 1, 2, 16, 23,
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
RAA’s Maker’s Marketplace
Saturday, December 1,
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Rockaway Artists Alliance often impresses with their various art exhibits, but this is an opportunity to take home some art or other handcrafted gifts like jewelry, pottery, embroidery, goodies and more. Head to the sTudio 7 Gallery in Fort Tilden for this one.
St. Camillus Christmas Boutique
December 8, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
December 9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This long-running holiday boutique is one you don’t want to miss with more than 50 vendors spread across the Springman Hall auditorium (Beach 100th Street). Plus make sure to bring some extra cash as there will be opportunities to win some great raffle prizes.
PS/MS 114 Holiday Shopping Night
Friday, December 7, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
This is another relatively new market, but it’ll be impressive with 40 vendors filling the gym at the Belle Harbor School (400 Beach 135th Street). There will also be raffles and a 50/50 taking place, making this market a chance to take home more than bought gifts!
RWA Holiday Market
Wednesday, December 12,
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Check out the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (58-03 Rockaway Beach Blvd) for their annual Holiday Market featuring local vendors selling locally made soap, baked goods, jewelry, stationary, and much more.
Brunch with Santa Holiday Market
Saturday, December 22,
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
This isn’t only an opportunity to get your last minute shopping done, but a chance to enjoy brunch with Santa Claus himself making an appearance at Community House (101-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd). They’re offering two-for-one brunch cocktails, which will pair well as you shop from more than 15 local vendors offering handmade goods, clothing, photographs, spices and more.
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