Organizers of the Holiday Reimagined pop-up market at Edina’s Galleria mall had hoped to promote shopping local without drawing too big of a crowd. They required free, timed tickets to enter and provided contactless ways to shop.
But after Gov. Tim Walz announced new COVID-19 restrictions last month, they decided to cancel the in-person event altogether.
“We thought we had the ideal event planned, with safety being the number one thing in mind. Of course, bringing people together is what we love to do, but it’s the wrong thing to do right now,” said organizer Mollie Windmiller, owner and creative director at marketing company LAB MPLS.
Instead of an in-person market, Holiday Reimagined is now a contactless display, where window shoppers can purchase locally made goods like abstract painted ornaments or hand-embroidered sweatshirts by scanning a QR code with their phone. It’s running through December in the windows of the former Gabberts store.
Plenty of Minnesotans have pledged to shop local this upended holiday season to support community makers and small businesses. But with many holiday markets going virtual, keeping it local might be a bit harder this year.
Alternatives to Amazon still abound for those willing to make a little effort. Shoppers can explore Minnesota artisans’ work online in many places — from individual websites and Etsy pages to the shelves of local shops that are available online.
They also can outsource the search entirely by purchasing curated gift boxes, relying on virtual personal shoppers and curbside pickup at local shops or doing it the old-fashioned way: in-store shopping. (Many, but not all local shops are open, but limit the number of shoppers.)
Minneapolis candlemaker Emma Remer, who refills vintage containers with scented wax to make her Burnboss Candles (burnbosscandles.com), decided to offer virtual shopping appointments on her website in place of in-person markets.
“I’ve missed those experiences and connections this year and hope these online appointments can recreate a bit of that magic,” said Remer, who plans to shop locally online and through social media.
“I’ve seen many local, small businesses getting extremely creative with their approaches to holiday shopping this year,” she said. “It’s vital that we show up and support them now so they can be a part of our community for years to come.”
Most of the holiday markets and pop-ups in the Twin Cities have gone virtual, with pages that link to vendors or display goods. You can shop them without leaving your couch — from the Black Business is Beautiful holiday market (blackbusinessisbeautiful.org/shop) to the online holiday shop created by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (shop.nemaa.org/holiday-shop/).
Some, like St. Paul’s European Christmas Market (stpaulchristmasmarket.org), also offer streaming music and story times with Santa. The American Swedish Institute’s Julmarknad virtual holiday market (asimn.org/virtual-julmarknad) includes free Zoom panels with some of the featured artists on Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. And the Minneapolis Craft Market (shop.mplscraftmarket.com), a digital marketplace with more than 230 makers, also hosts live shopping events on