It’s market season on the coast of Vancouver Island and with that comes a common experience: getting home from your trip and wishing you had bought more of something you found at the market. Common Ground Market is seeking to connect you with makers on the coast. Be it a candle, relaxing bath salts, or a piece of artwork, Common Ground wants to connect artists with a market across the island and the country. Launched earlier this year by the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce, Common Ground Market is a platform for artisans and makers on the coast. While it’s been called an “Etsy for the Coast,” Seika Anderson, the market manager for Common Ground, is quick to fill out the picture. Because it’s an online market with a local focus and local vendors, the effects of the platform are felt more locally. “Shopping local supports the local economy. It helps us embrace what makes the community unique and shopping local also helps the environment.” In fact, local vendors can drop off their items at the Ucluelet Chamber Office and the Common Ground team will deliver for free within Ucluelet.
According to Seika, it’s a great way for artists and artisans to step into the online market. “It can be daunting for some people,” Seika says. “Some are great at art, and some are great at computers. Not everyone is great at both. We’re here to help.” The Market offers one-on-one tech support to vendors that sign up to help them set up the online shop in addition to professional product photography. The same photos are used on Common Ground Market’s social media feeds, which helps to increase the audience reach for each artist.
Since the market launched, response has been positive. During the closures due to COVID-19, an online market filled the void left as restrictions meant markets couldn’t operate. But even as market season approaches with a return to regular programming, Common Ground Market continues to grow. At thirty vendors with no signs of slowing, the roster of vendors is made up of a diverse range. Everything from paper and canvas, pet treats, food and jewelry to non-profits such as The West Coast Community Resources Society and the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. “We don’t have any carvers yet,” Seika says. “But I think they would be a really great fit.”
Most vendors are local to the peninsula, but the market is really focussing on extending into other areas on the Island. They want to expand into the nine communities of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) and the hope is that in the fall, they will be offering workshops.
While she loves market season, Seika is especially excited for an upcoming initiative through Common Ground. A pop-up night market, at three to be determined dates throughout the summer, will be a gathering spot for local artists and food trucks. It’s something she hopes that the locals will enjoy, as well as be an attraction for tourists and great for the local economy.
For anyone interested in getting involved with Common Ground Market, they can get in touch by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Common Ground Market website, where you’ll find a section on becoming a vendor, with video tutorials on how to set up a shop. Shops are free to set up and fees are commission-based. For members of the Tofino or Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce, commission is 10% and for non-members 25%. Check out Common Ground Market on Facebook and Instagram, and find the newly launched vendor spotlight, “Makers of the Coast” series, where a different vendor from the market is featured biweekly. Seika’s encouragement is that if you have something you’d like to sell, take the plunge.