Nothing small about small businesses

Artsy in Airdrie: Holly Shepherd at Homestead Market on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. Holly and her husband own and operate Homestead Market, which is located south of Airdrie, Alta. (Photo by Chelsey Becker/The Press)

Alberta artisans, crafters, and makers have become a hot commodity over the past few years, and locally owned artisan markets have allowed them to sell and display their goods.

Over the course of the pandemic, artisan markets have gained in popularity. This is due to the local economy taking a hit. People have decided to support them by purchasing handmade goods. Which in turn raises awareness for their neighbours.

Holly Shepherd is the owner and operator of Homestead Market, located just south of Airdrie, Alta.

Prior to the pandemic hitting in March of 2020, Shepherd says they were running a successful doggy daycare out of the location. This has recently turned into the Homestead Market.

“Our business was really born out of COVID, and prior to 2020 in the same location, we ran a dog daycare and boarding kennel,” she said.

“and when the pandemic struck, the business took a real hit because nobody could travel, so within a week we had seven people employed and we had to lay them all off.” Shepherd said.

According to Benchmark Law Corporation, 98 per cent of all businesses in Alberta are small businesses. Contributing billions of dollars each year to the provincial economy.

Shepherd says that her husband was at the core of the launch of Homestead Market, as he always had a knack for gardening, and sourcing local goods.

“We decided to host a little pop up shop at the at the kennel one Saturday in the spring, and [he] was there selling some of his plants and seeds and those kinds of things, and it was a huge hit.” she said.

In previous years, artisan markets were sparse, and at any locally owned storefront, ‘made in Alberta’ selection was slim-to-none. However, today there is an abundance of shops and markets that house a very diverse selection of Alberta-made items.

“I think there is a real strong desire right now for people to find local handmade products, and customers always want to see unique things,” Shepherd said. “They want to get different gifts or home decor, those kinds of things that you wouldn’t find at Amazon or Walmart.”

Artisan style brick-and-mortar storefronts have become increasingly popular with the pandemic urging people within communities to support local, which allows artisans, crafters, and makers to have a permanent place to sell their goods.

Lori Weech is the owner and operator of Copper and Twine, a family owned artisan market located in Airdrie, Alta.

Weech says that since opening the storefront in May of 2021, she has seen nothing but success, and business has been bustling.

“Our business is huge now, and I carry products for both men and women,” she said. “One thing that is very unique that we carry are CBD bath bombs, and they are big sellers.”

She says that they had decided to open up a brick-and-mortar storefront in Airdrie, after seeing major success with their first location in Ontario.

“Our customers are supporting local, and they’re not going to the malls,” she said. “Airdrie is a pretty a place where people love to support local.”

Weech says that the main takeaway she wants her customers having at Copper and Twine is to know that they are supporting not only her business, but also supporting local artisans.

A directory of local artisan markets in Airdrie can be found on the City of Airdrie’s website, in the business directory.


About Chelsey Becker 4 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Chelsey Becker is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021-22 academic year.