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      Ottawa’s Il Mercato artisan market wraps up

      Oct. 5, 2012

      With its debut season wrapping up October 6, Ottawa’s Little Italy Il Mercato artisan market is looking ahead to greater success in 2013 after a summer of lessons in generating business.

      Lori Mellor, executive director of the Preston Street BIA, said she would have liked to see more activity at the outdoor market, but understands this summer was just a learning curve.

      “It is so great artisans have honoured their commitments and they understand these things take time,” Mellor said.

      Robin Duetta, manager of the market says organizers started working on the operation in May, but by that time, most artisans had their seasons planned and booked.

      Although the number of vendors varied throughout the summer months, every Saturday a range of artisans came out to display their crafty skills, such as handmade jewelry, unique art pieces or antiques.

      Barbara Martin, a handmade jewelry vendor, has been in the business for nine years and travels to various artisan shows throughout Ottawa.

      “From what I understand, from all the construction, Preston Street merchants lost a lot of money,” says Martin, referring to the area’s recent infrastructure upgrade. “So what they’re trying to do is promote the business back to Preston Street. This is why they’re trying to get vendors to come here and do an artisan sale.”

      Il Mercato was created when the Preston Street BIA was looking for new ideas to bring people to the district. The idea was to concentrate on the corner of Young Street at Preston Street and do something unique and different from other parts of Ottawa.

      Martin has participated in Il Mercato every Saturday since the event began in June, except for rainy days.

      “The sales aren’t always great,” she says. “Sometimes you only get a handful of customers a day, but if you don’t keep coming back, the people don’t know we’re here.”

      Martin believes there was no lack of advertising for the event, so that couldn’t possibly be a reason for the small number of buyers most weeks. Duetta says there was a mix of marketing with posters, cards, word of mouth and the new social media tools available.

      Duetta explains that two things need to be achieved for success in an artisan market: a good mix of interesting vendors and a steady flow of customers.

      “If either is lacking, the other doesn’t respond.”

      Although it was a tough year for Il Mercato, Duetta said he has learned lessons and is in a better place to prepare for the coming year.

      “Mixing live music, theatre and involving the festival community will animate the spaces as well,” Duetta says. “Visual and performing arts have always had a complimentary relationship that will be a key focus in moving the event forward.”

      Last Saturday Il Mercato had a great day, despite the rain. La Vendemmia Grape Fest also brought many people to the district to enjoy both events.

      “There were hundreds of people out enjoying a pre-fall day,” says Duetta. “It appeared that everyone had a great time.”

      With only one Saturday left to display their skills, the participating artists are anxious to see what next year will bring.

      “For the first season of this market, we’re very pleased to have some passionate artists who believe that Preston Street is the perfect place to have an event like this,” says Duetta.

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