Walnut Creek kicks off new season with Fall Artisan Merchant Market

Elena Waldman

Folks can put down their iced coffees and pick up a pumpkin spice latte—the new season has officially fallen upon us. 

The Fall Artisan Merchant Market, held by Merchant Markets at Walnut Creek, started the fall season Saturday with a variety of commodities and entertainment for locals to enjoy. People at the event listened to live music from several local bands while they shopped for jewelry, clothing, food and art. The market is situated between Walnut Creek and Old Firehouse bookstore and will continue on the second Saturday of every month until November.  

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I’m an artist, and I know there are not that many places where you can sell your work. I also wanted to build an art community. There’s not a lot of art shows in Fort Collins, so I thought we should start one.”-Jamie Kelsch, creator of Artisan Merchant Market.

The market welcomes both local businesses and independent vendors to sell their craft. The creator of the event, Jamie Kelsch, said that many of the merchants were found through other markets in the Fort Collins area. 

“I’ve been selling through Walnut Creek for over three years,” Kelsch said. “There’s a small percentage who are Walnut Creek vendors, and the rest we found through other markets and word of mouth.”

Walnut Creek is a merchant shop in Old Town where Kelsch first moved her business. She collaborated with Walnut Creek owner Linda Roth to create the event earlier this year in May.

Kelsch said that the purpose of the event is to help smaller artists and independent vendors get their businesses more exposure, as well as invite the community to experience new things. 

“I’m an artist, and I know there are not that many places where you can sell your work. I also wanted to build an art community,” Kelsch said. “Art is important to me, and to Linda. There’s not a lot of art shows in Fort Collins, so I thought we should start one.” 

Though the Artisan Merchant Market focuses heavily on art, there is also room for other unique commodities. Vendor Melanie Hutchinson came on behalf of the non- profit organization Peacecrafter Sustainability Program based in India. The organization provides programs for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking to earn a stable income by making clothing and crafts. 

“The women in our centers make all the merchandise,” Hutchinson said. “First, we give them counseling, and then we try to teach them different skills so they can make a living. Intervention and prevention are what we try to do. We buy all the materials and pay them to go through training. When they’re done with training, they can choose what area of work they want to go into and all the proceeds go back into the training centers,”  

Hutchinson said she uses markets like the Artisan Merchant Market as a platform to bring more awareness to Peacecrafter and its cause. She also hopes to have more businesses carrying Peacecrafter products in the future.

Other vendors at the event, like jewelry maker Brie Chesley, have created businesses out of their passion for unconventional forms of art. She is the owner of Galactic Gaia Studios and makes jewelry out of tree wood.

“They’re local Colorado wood and there are seven different species right now,” Chesley said. “I get the wood from an arborist who cuts the slices, and I sand them and put mineral oil on them. I just started doing it because I loved it, and everyone else saw them and starting wanting them.” 

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In addition to the already wide variety of merchants, Kelsch’s long-term goal for the market is to accumulate more vendors and continue to grow in community engagement.

“The word of mouth is spreading, and a lot of artists are telling other artists, so it’s growing,” Kelsch said. “We want more vendors and more people to come by who are interested in buying art. We want to have it be a destination where everyone is super excited to come to. We just want to have it be this really amazing, aesthetically pleasing art show.”

Those who didn’t make it to the event can return on Oct. 13 for the Wise Craft and Art Merchant Market. Jamie Kelsch can be reached at www.idylwildtherapy.com.

Collegian reporter Elena Waldman can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @WaldmanElena.