Written by Alyssa Di Sabatino; Image by Shaquille De Peazer
“I feel like it just makes it so much more personal. I really missed this kind of atmosphere.”
Nikolina Kupcevic of Nikolina Art & Design, Market Vendor & Community Member
If you ever actually needed a reason to go to Uptown Waterloo to eat, shop and stroll around, take this as your sign because on Thursday, July 22, the Uptown Waterloo Business Improvement Area kicked off its first Night Market.
From 7-10 PM, market-goers were able to explore and interact with a mosaic of local food vendors, retail items, artisan crafts and more.
Located in the Communitech Data Hub parking lot at the intersection of Dupont Street and Albert Street, the Night Market follows after last summer’s open-air market hosted on Willis Way.
“We thought, ‘let’s play around with a different idea,’” said Dawne Taylor-Gilders, Events and Outreach Manager at the Uptown Waterloo BIA.
“It just made sense. There’s this beautiful, empty parking lot in the evenings and Communitech was gracious enough to sponsor it and allow us to have this space for it.”
In a convenient location in the core of Uptown Waterloo, the Night Market is surrounded by lots of landmarks, like the Waterloo Public Library, the LRT tracks and the clock tower from the historic post office, making for a scenic evening.
“We will have some rotating vendors, so every week there will be something different,” Taylor-Gilders said.
“We had a lot of interest from local vendors wanting to get in that we’re just trying to do a bit of a rotation. You never know what you’re going to get the next week, so keep coming back.”
The first Night Market date — set for the evening of July 15 — was postponed due to rain, making July 22 the debut date for the market. It will run weekly on Thursdays until September 30.
After a relatively short wait to get inside the market, I entered the space to find the food vendors in the center of the parking lot with retail vendors lining the perimeter. Between those two sections was a walk-way marked with chalk, pointing market-goers in the direction of traffic to ensure physical distancing.
It’s safe to say that there was a good turnout for the event. When I made it to the market shortly after 7, the line already stretched around the perimeter of the parking lot. By the time I made it inside, the line had gotten even longer.
Fifteen to thirty minutes is plenty of time to explore the entirety of the market and still make off with several purchases. For myself, I left with cookies, ice cream, jewellery and some fruitful conversations.
Being that it was outside, the open-air atmosphere made for a COVID-19 friendly — and dog friendly — browsing experience. On top of that, most attendees and all vendors chose to wear masks.
Without a doubt, the Night Market has been well-received by the community and vendors alike. For those who have the chance to be vendors, the opportunity is not one to be wasted.
“I just wanted to be here and connect with people and really explain to them what I do. Sometimes that’s hard to see on social media and on the internet — it’s not personal. So, that’s why I jumped on it. And I love our community, it’s a good energy,” said Nikolina Kupcevic of Nikolina Art & Design.
“I love going to markets. What I have first is an online shop, but I do love the in-person aspect,” said Kupcevic, a mixed media artist. “I feel like it just makes it so much more personal. I really missed this kind of atmosphere.”
The Night Market has something for everybody and provides a perfect opportunity to get outside and support local, so if you find yourself looking for something to do on a Thursday night, be sure to stop by.