Local, handmade jewelry for sale at Joyarte during the 2013 OPEN pop-up shop on Houston Street. Credit Page Graham
Local, handmade jewelry for sale at Joyarte during the 2013 OPEN pop-up shop on Houston Street. Credit Page Graham.

There’s no reason to dread holiday shopping – well, okay, you’ve many reason to dread holiday shopping: the crowds, the lines, and the traffic.

In San Antonio, there is no reason to put up with all that. Instead of spending your holiday dollars gambling on gifts that are likely to carry a gift receipt, why not focus on a gift that is local, unique, and exclusively tailored to the person receiving it? Why feel rushed and crowded?

Try the holiday markets, community programs, and affordable workshops in San Antonio that transform the holiday shopping dread into a massive learning event for the whole family to enjoy.

Guadalupe Cultural Arts’ Hecho a Mano Festival

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (GCAC) will hold its 28th-annual Hecho a Mano Festival beginning on Dec. 5. The festival is a three-day shopping extravaganza focusing on fine art and handmade artisan items that use traditional and contemporary themes.

“The beautiful thing about Hecho a Mano is that every dollar spent supports the arts,” GCAC Visual Arts Director Haydee Munoz said in a press release. “65% of all sales benefit the artists directly, and 35% help the Guadalupe continue to fulfill its mission.”

The sheer volume of participating artists is impressive. More than 35 artists are on the scene, include Cruz Ortiz, Juan De Dios Mora, Sarah Castillo, and Benjamin Ortiz, just to name a few. The event will be held from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec.5, at the Museo Guadalupe (723 S. Brazos), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7.

The admission price for the weekend dates is $2, or two canned food items. All canned food items will be donated to the Inner City Development Food Bank. A special reception will precede the festival on Friday, Dec. 5. The admission to the preview ceremony is $10, which includes food, drinks, live music, and door prizes. Arturo Almeida, the curator of the University of Texas at San Antonio art collection, is slated to host the preview reception.

OPEN: Downtown Pop-up Shops

Another holiday market being offered this year is an initiative between property owners, retailers, small businesses, local entrepreneurs, and the city’s Center City Development and Operations Department (CCDO).

Behind the counter, Melissa Unsell (left) talks to a customer at Canvas. Photo by Page Graham.
Behind the counter, Melissa Unsell (left) talks to a customer at Canvas during the 2013 OPEN pop-up shop on Houston Street. Photo by Page Graham.

OPEN is a downtown pop-up retail opportunity running from Dec. 2-30. Participating stores will be open from 12-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The pop-up shops will be located along four storefronts on East Houston and East Travis streets.

Locations include:

  • The Book Building (140 E. Houston St., Suite 40 and 41)
  • The Milam Building (115 E. Travis St.)
  • The Sehaum Building (231 E. Houston St.).

The participating stores include 19 small businesses that plan to share and rotate vacant storefronts located downtown. This year will also see the addition of another partner – Café Commerce – dubbed as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs.

Pop-ups also serve a business purpose in the local community, raising awareness of the commercial property available downtown while promoting spaces to future tenants.

Read about last year’s pop-ups here: Pop-Up Success: Hope for Houston Street?

Mockingbird Handprints Holiday Market

This year’s Mockingbird Holiday Market will be at BRICK in the Blue Star Arts Complex during First Friday, Dec. 5  (6-10 p.m.) and Saturday, Dec. 6. (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) .The local market plans to include more artists this year and will be open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

A variety of vendors are on tap at BRICK Marketplace. Photo by Page Graham.
A variety of vendors are on tap at BRICK Marketplace. Photo by Page Graham. Credit: Page Graham for the San Antonio Report

Locals will be able to recognize many of the artisans, including Diana Kersey, Laura Quinones, Mary Fischer, Stephanie Job Spears, and Clare Watters. San Antonio artists Jane Bishop and Paula Cox, the owners of Mockingbird Handprints, will also be offering up some of their own exotic finds inspired by a trip to India.

“This is the third year for the holiday market,” Bishop stated in a press release on the company’s website. “The first year, a dozen local artists came together for the event. This year, nearly 30 artists will take part, including four from the Austin area.”

The rationale behind the holiday market is not unlike the others that will be offered in the city’s urban core. It provides a space for independent artists to showcase their talents. A few of the new artists this year include Elena Eideburg, who plans to showcase her upcycled and altered vintage bone china, and Priscilla Martinez, who creates jewelry using semi-precious stones along with natural materials, including lace and leather. For a complete listing of artists, please check the website.

Mujeres Mercado

Mujeres Mercado and the Southwest Workers Union present the “vibrant community” at 1414 E. Commerce St. The space functions as a holiday pop-up shop and community art space. The shop, which opened at the beginning of the month, will stay open for the rest of November and December.

The hours of operation are 2-8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. All other days are available, but by appointment only.

The market will feature original artwork, jewelry household cositas, and vintage art and clothing. Another distinct flavor of this all-women’s market is the family programming in which community members can learn some of the skills to hand-make their own holiday gifts.

A crochet series with expert Ellen Escalera offers a five-week course to benefit the Vibrant Community Space. A sliding scale of $25-45 will be charged for the entire five-week course. The class is offered at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.

The space will also hold a fitness camp entitled, “Witness the Fitness,” offered by Laura Yohualtahuiz Rios-Ramirez. The class will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday evenings (Dec. 4, 11, and 18). Classes are offered on a sliding scale basis of $5-10 per class. For workshops and more information, email mujeresmercado@gmail.com.

Esperanza’s Peace Market

The 25th annual international peace market promises over 100 vendors and also includes a steady line-up of local performers. The indoor and outdoor market will be open Saturday Nov. 29 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. at 922 San Pedro Avenue.

Artists and vendors offer a worldly vibe with products from countries such as Peru, Panama, Guatemala, Cuba and Mexico that include a wide range of products from original artwork to paper mâché dolls. The musical selection for the event also promises a vast variety including Azul, Joe Reyes, Valerie Fernandez, Liza Garza, Saakred, and Krudas Cubensi.

For a full listing of vendors, artists and performers – please visit their website.

Queer the Cheer 2014

queer the cheer 014

The second annual Queer the Cheer holiday market is planned for Saturday, Dec. 20, and will be hosted by the San Antonio Queer Collective. The event will run from 4-10 .m. at the Pride Center San Antonio at 147 E. Mistletoe.

“Our mission for this event is to create a unique space that focuses on the many diverse talents of our queer community where artists can share their work and gain recognition,” states its Facebook event page.

The market will not only feature local, handmade goods, but local performers, dancers, and musicians. The lineup of artists and performers has yet to be announced (as of this publication’s deadline) but will be updated soon.

Admission is free to the public. Beer, wine, and tamales will be available for a small donation.

La Villita and Market Square

In keeping with tradition, the shops of La Villita Historic Arts Village and Market Square will offer a vast array of special events and incentives to holiday shoppers.

Potter Cynthia Glass of Village Gallery (Building 10) in La Villita Historic Arts Village. Photo by Tracey Maurer, courtesy of the City of San Antonio.
Potter Cynthia Glass of Village Gallery (Building 10) in La Villita Historic Arts Village. Photo by Tracey Maurer, courtesy of the City of San Antonio.

The historic Market Square houses 100 local shops that are geared to natives and tourists alike. A wide variety of items, ranging from handcrafted pottery, textiles, and jewelry, are available for purchase during the holiday season.

Here are three more events that the savvy shopper and guru will not want to miss.

Open House at La Villita

– 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29 

– 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30 

Look forward to enjoying live music during this annual event at La Villita.

Coffee Festival

-10 a.m.-5 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 13

This event is free and open to the public. For an additional $5, participants can taste a vast array of coffees from local purveyors. The music this year includes the Latin rhythms of Adam Zuniga and the Blue Grass sounds of Native Texans. A kids’ activities section from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. will feature a mini art museum and activities involving coffee painting. For more info, please visit the festival website.

Blessing of the Animals (at Market Square)

-Noon-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13

Participants are encouraged to bring their pets and take part in the pet parade and group blessing. The event will also feature a free petting zoo on site for the day.

*Featured/top image: Local, handmade jewelry for sale at Joyarte during the 2013 OPEN pop-up shop on Houston Street. Photo courtesy of Page Graham.

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Holidays at the Market Square

San Antonio The Place to Be For Christmas 2014

Pop-up Success: Hope for Houston Street?

First Friday to Second Saturday: Remembering Silos, Discovering Lone Star

Pop-up San Antonio: The Art of the Movement

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Kay Richter

Kay Richter is a native of San Antonio. She attended Texas State University – San Marcos where she studied journalism and history. She has been a reporter for several community newspapers in south and...