MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — As small, locally owned businesses continue to navigate the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presents, the holiday shopping season has offered a surge in business.
“These small businesses are right in our neighborhoods; they’re trying to make a living,” explained Ryan Laessig, owner and founder of the Milwaukee Makers Market. “During the pandemic, it has certainly been tough. Some of our events have had to get canceled and rescheduled.”
Sunday, around 40 vendors filled the pavilion at Discovery World as a part of the Milwaukee Makers Market’s Holiday Pop-up event, the market’s last of 2021. Hundreds of shoppers, including Angela Thiel and her two daughters, filled the pavilion to check out the locally made crafts and products and buy presents for friends and loved ones.
“We’re Christmas shopping today because we really wanted to shop small this year,” Thiel said. “It feels good getting to talk to people that you’re buying things from. It just makes it feel much more personable. Knowing that you’re helping out somebody during tough times is definitely a positive, too.”
That mentality is what’s helping businesses like Matilda Bakehouse thrive. Nadezda Howard helps run the bakery her sister, Allie Fisher, founded in 2020.
“The pandemic kind of kicked everybody down,” Howard said. “She took it as a challenge and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to open up my bakery and we’re going to go from there.’ She’s been a rockstar since.”
The bakery is just one of the dozens of businesses, ranging from candle makers and apparel designers to disc artists and photographers, all working hard to make their small business and unique, homemade products a success.
“We want to be safe and make sure they can continue their small businesses and stay afloat during these hard times,” Laessig said. “It’s been rocky but to have the community come out and bring some normalcy to this, it’s been great to see the support that they (businesses) are getting.”
The Milwaukee Makers Market hosts one market a month. The 2022 schedule will be posted soon at Home | Milwaukee Makers Market.