BearTown Market thinks inside the box

BearTown Market will soon bring handcrafted goods from local artists to customers by offering a monthly subscription box. 

The box is a way to continue the summertime tradition of BearTown Market despite its cancellation this year due to COVID-19 precautionary measures and the lack of a summer cruise ship season. 

The market is offering its first subscription box this month. It will be available for pick up on Saturday and will include art and goods made by five local artisans, including the Kodiak Tea Company, Natasha Zahn Pristas, Emerald Isle Essentials, Sea Star Blends and Candice's Kodiak Creations. 

The monthly box is the brainchild of Pristas; Maggie Dellemann-Zadina, the founder of Emerald Isle Essentials; and Katie Oliver, executive director of the Kodiak Arts Council. 

The organizers plan to offer one box per month through September, highlighting five different artists each month. 

They are working with artisans who have previously attended the markets to showcase in the subscription boxes. 

“We are testing the waters to see if there is a positive response,” Oliver said of the first box. 

She noted that so far, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with over half of the 35 boxes already sold since the sale began Thursday. 

A limited number of boxes will be available for purchase each month, with the potential for add-on items in the future, Pristas said. 

The switch from a live market to the subscription box model was a response to the lack of cruise ship season, delayed ferry traffic and the social distancing measures many locals and businesses have been implementing because of the coronavirus. 

The mission of BearTown Market is to support and showcase small-scale production of handcrafted arts and goods made by independent local makers in Kodiak. 

“This was a way for artists to continue to sell their work even while we are staying apart from one another,” Oliver said, adding that it is also a way to reach new audiences. 

Oliver said she could envision offering the subscription boxes into the future along with the live market, if the response to the boxes continues to be positive. 

She noted that the live market is a special sensory experience for patrons, with people able to touch and try the products before buying them. She also said the live markets are a way to connect locals with customers.

There are typically 18 to 22 markets per year, and they include the participation of 12 to 16 vendors at each one. Although the market was originally intended to attract cruise ship passengers, it has evolved to include local customers as well.

Pristas said she was inspired to have a subscription box after receiving her Kodiak Harvest Food Co-op box. 

Pick-up for the BearTown in a Box June subscription box will be Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. curbside at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium. 

The mission of BearTown Market is to support and showcase small-scale production of handcrafted arts and goods made by independent local makers in Kodiak. 

“For us, it's all about building connection and that's what BearTown market has been,” Oliver said. 

The boxes are available for purchase through kodiakartscouncil.square.site.

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