Last week, we provided you with more than 50 gift ideas easily available at local establishments. But, oy, the driving, and the walking, and the screaming directions at Siri, and the circling for parking. Now we know why people like malls. If only they weren’t so … mall-ish, and we could spend freely shop to shop knowing our money went back to hardworking locals and independent artisans instead of to soulless corporations.
Give thanks then, for the many gift markets that pop up in and around San Anto during the holiday season to provide an alternative to Black Friday blues.
Mercado de Paz/International Peace Market
Maybe as feel-good as consumerism gets, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center gathers 100 vendors in this massive display of fair trade and indigenous craft, complete with live music, food and, this being Esperanza after all, a community-wide dialogue titled “Mujer Artesana: The Spirit of Creativity.” This year the Market welcomes 18 Mexican artisans from as far away as Chiapas to add to the array of exquisite, traditionally crafted rugs, pottery, textiles, clothing, paintings and jewelry. We’ve seen their 20-page catalog, and we’re impressed. 10am-6pm Fri-Sat, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, 922 San Pedro, (210) 228-0201, esperanzacenter.org.
Christmas in Comfort
For a little Hill Country charm, head to Comfort. The tiny, historic town offers more than 100 juried arts and crafts vendors, plus Comfort’s celebrated antique meccas and a gently used book sale courtesy of the local public library. Aside from the down-home gifts on offer, Christmas in Comfort is a bona fide celebration, with live music and entertainment, a glowing night parade and Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Santa visits, a petting zoo and a food court. This sweet, family-friendly event makes even our small heart grow three sizes each year. 10am-9pm Sat, Comfort, comfortchamberofcommerce.com.
If you’re looking for a really laidback market, check this one. Held at the newly opened Pearl of Pearls home gallery—operated by artist Chance Reyes—this cozy event brings together young local artists and musicians for an opportunity to find great deals from the art world’s next big thing. 12-7pm Sat, Pearl of Pearls, 101 Carson. https://www.facebook.com/events/516058385157089/
Mockingbird Holiday Market
When a holiday market is so successful it inspires a year-round shop, that’s a solid indicator of quality. The doyennes of fine arts and crafts behind Mockingbird Handprints, a Blue Star boutique offering whimsical art, fabrics and home accessories, initially launched this holiday market full of local artisans before their brick-and-mortar store was established. Stop here for high-quality, handcrafted jewelry, ceramics, fabric and paper goods by the likes of Paula Cox, Kathleen Trenchard, Diana Kersey, Jennifer Datchuk and more. Hit it up early on December 6 to get Blue Star’s artsy First Friday experience as well. 6-10pm Fri, 10am-6pm Sat, Blue Star Arts Complex Breezeway, 1420 S Alamo, facebook.com/MockingbirdHolidayMarket.
International Artisan Fair
Pretend you picked up that woven basket in deepest Africa, daaahhhling, without even leaving the inner loop. The San Antonio Area Foundation brings folk artisans from 14 different countries to the Pearl with fanfare befitting international visitors, like a chi-chi preview party and a riverboat procession. Kids activities on Sunday afternoon complete the experience. Yes, you have to pay to get in, but the door price benefits SAAF, which in turn supports several local non-profits and programs. Preview party: $75, 6-8:30pm Fri; Fair: $5 (adults 16 years and older), 9:30am-5pm Sat, $3(adults 16 years and older), 12-4pm Sun, 306 Pearl Pkwy.
Unlike most of these events, the SoFlo market happens year-round, but it’s still a stellar way for Southtowners to get some shopping in without leaving the ’hood. The indoor space hosts several local artisans displaying pottery, sculpture, sweets, jewelry, lotions and other sundry items. This market is so local they’ve even sold T-shirts emblazoned with the Donkey Lady. Can’t beat that. 10am-4pm Sat, 1344 S Flores, facebook.com/soflomarket.