As the holidays approach, many of us begin decorating and shopping. Of course, as a former business owner, I encourage everyone to shop locally. Visiting the Farmers and Crafts Market of Las Cruces on a Saturday morning (there’s a smaller market Wednesday mornings) is an easy way to complete your holiday to-do list — everything from purchasing fresh and homemade foods for parties to selecting gifts for friends and family.
I recently discovered the Junior Vendors booth at the market. The Junior Vendors program is a Kids Can Youth Entrepreneur Program of the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico. These entrepreneurs are ages 6 to 17 and create crafts to sell as they learn business skills. About 20 young vendors participate in the program, according to Jianna Whiteley, Kids Can coordinator. In September, young vendors were selling products from soaps and bath salts to tile magnets and original art.
Era Carroll and her brother Jax create soaps, bath salts, and other bath and body products. Era described her products as USDA organic and containing beneficial ingredients such as matcha green tea. She both researched and sourced the materials for her products. Jax is especially proud of his soaps in the forms of Marvel characters!
Era is home-schooled and has been in the program for several months. “I wanted to start the business before,” she said. “The Junior Vendor program was a good opportunity.”
Eleven-year-old Ayla Whiteley and her 7-year-old sister Elin had a selection of tiles, trivets, and magnets. Ayla would like to have her own business when she grows up, but Elin declared she is too young to have already decided what she wants to be. A student at the Mesilla Valley Leadership Academy, Lily Louich has participated in the program for three years and brings her magnets and headbands to the booth, though she would like to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
“When I grow up I want to be an architect,” young vendor Samantha Schirmer said. She sculpts earrings, key chains, and bracelets. She entered the program when she was 6 years old and attends Central Elementary School.
Visit caasnm.org for the Kids Can Farmers and Crafts Market holiday schedule.
Traditional Market Vendors
Some vendors have been with the market for many years. Kuhn Farms jams, jellies, conserves, and pickles are a favorite with locals and tourists alike. With more than 40 different flavor combinations, these small-batch jams make excellent gifts.
Robledo Vista Nursery also has a regular space in the market, as our winters usually are mild and allow us to plant year round. Jimmy Zabriskie and Marcy Scott are birders as well as native plant retailers, and a gardener or birder would enjoy Marcy’s book Hummingbird Plants of the Southwest.
Vendors do change from year to year. On my last trip to the market, I was delighted to find whimsical fascinators (those tiny hats that royalty wear) in the purple-and-white striped booth of LuckyJynx. I lingered to admire steampunk-style lamps made of industrial pipe at Whimsical Werks.
For holiday hostess gifts, I purchased several tie-dye kitchen towels. The towels are a bargain at our market compared to prices on Amazon or Etsy, and you can use them to wrap a homemade jar of jam as a gift. There are up to 100 vendors at the market on most Saturdays, so there are many shopping and lingering options.
In addition to the many artisans, there are food vendors and street musicians. Volunteers from the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley even wander through the market with dogs available for adoption.
The Farmers and Crafts Market of Las Cruces fills downtown Main Street on Saturday mornings and the Las Cruces Plaza Wednesday mornings.
The farmers market runs between a fascinating collection of traditional stores where you can also find gifts for those on your holiday list. Here are just a few.
Mew + Company is an eclectic store featuring original stationery and vintage home goods. Owner Mary Wunderlich creates the stationery in her studio, designing, printing, and painting the boards for the frames.
When I visited, a mother and her children were seated at a table working on a craft project. Mew + Company provides a free craft project each week and anyone can participate. For the holidays, Mew + Company will offer craft kits and holiday classes to create items to decorate your home or give as a gift. You can find the schedule at mewandcompany.com.
“I wanted to offer something for people to do, to get their creativity flowing, to get people together,” Mary said. She recalls when it was an experience to go shopping — to see, smell, and taste. “I want to provide people with a joyful experience,” she said.
Mary grew up in West Virginia, moved around the country with her military husband, and then settled in New Mexico, through which they had driven on their honeymoon.
“I found Las Cruces on Google Maps and saw the mountains,” Mary said. “We camped at Aguirre Spring, then bought a home.”
Vintage home goods from classic Pyrex work bowls to teacups and china reflect her “deep love of vintage things and antiques.”
“I try to find things with a vintage flair that fit in a modern space,” Mary said.
COAS Books has been a downtown icon for decades. They stock a wide range of books, vinyl records and other media, and gift items. Find colorful coffee table books or pick up a paperback by your favorite author. While they offer thousands of used books, they also offer new books that will make great gifts for any bibliophile!
newer store on downtown Main Street is Zia Comics, where you can find a wide variety of fun gifts. Organ Mountain Outfitters on the north end of Main Street is the place to shop for clothing and other items that express the spirit of the area.
Arts & Crafts Shows
There are some other opportunities to shop local for the holidays: arts and crafts shows. Nonprofit La Casa hosts one of the most popular in our area and it’s back for the 30th year. The La Casa Holiday Bazaar supports the nonprofit, which is in its 40th year of providing services to those affected by domestic violence in Doña Ana County. They expect to have 90 booths at the Las Cruces Convention Center this year, spaced throughout the entire building to help with social distancing.
Vendors will offer metal yard décor, dog accessories, fine jewelry, funky jewelry, photography, woodworking, paintings, food, home décor, glass art, candy, pecan gifts, spices, salsa, and much more. The bazaar is Friday, December 3, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 4, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Sunday, December 5, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tickets are $6 for one day or $15 for all three and are available now at lacasainc.org. The Las Cruces Convention Center is located at 680 E. University Ave.
In El Paso, check out the Las Artistas Art & Fine Crafts Show at the Epic Railyard Event Center, 2201 E. Mills Ave., November 20 and 21. This event brings together artists from El Paso, Las Cruces, and from as far away as Tennessee. You’ll find nationally known artists as well as students from The University of Texas at El Paso. Learn more at their website, lasartistas.org.
Written and photography by Jackye Meinecke
Additional photography by Olivia Belcher and Cheryl Fallstead
Originally published in Neighbors magazine.
Posted by LasCruces.com