Camaraderie is heart of St. Ann Center Indoor Market
February 1, 2017
By Sheila Julson
For the past five years, the Indoor Market at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care has provided a marketplace for handcrafted goods. But in keeping with the center’s mission to create a caring community, it also offers a winter refuge for a dedicated group of customers and vendors who have formed strong social bonds.
Yolanda Jones, an art therapist and the head of the market, cheerfully greeted patrons as they arrived on a chilly January morning, unwrapping scarves and stripping off hats and gloves. Many of them returned Jones’ warm greeting with a hug.
Lori Grzybowski, of St. Ann Center’s marketing and communications staff, said the market was created to bring people into St. Ann Center who had never visited it. “Unless they have a certain need, such as for daycare, a lot of people don’t know about us,” she said. “We’re kind of a hidden gem here, so the market is a way to show the community what we’re all about and what we do. It’s also a way to promote local businesses. A lot of our vendors have been here for years and they enjoy catching up with each other.”
The vendors offer crafts, artisan foods, spices, and teas. There are also vendors offering products from Avon, Mary Kay, and Pampered Chef.
Jones is in charge of booking vendors for St. Ann’s market but noted that other winter markets in far larger buildings draw big crowds, therefore luring many vendors on Saturday mornings. “Here, it’s more word of mouth,” she said, “but once they (vendors) come, they come back.” Easy, free parking that’s close to the front door, ready wheelchair accessibility, and the intimate setting are selling points. Children are welcome and there is seating for those who want to take a break, eat, or sit and chat with friends.
Generally, the Indoor Market restricts jewelry crafters, as its organizers don’t want competition with the jewelry made and sold by Sister Edna Lonergan, founder and president of St. Ann Center. Lonergan’s donates all the profit from her jewelry sales to St. Ann Center. Occasionally, Diane Oman, OSF, displays her work. Both women make beautiful affordable jewelry featuring pearls, natural stones, semi-precious gems, and crystals.
Sister Edna Lonergan, founder and president of St. Ann Center. Lonergan’s donates all the profit from her jewelry sales to St. Ann Center. PHOTO Katherine KellerFood vendors are required to carry applicable state and local licenses. Food vendors must grow or produce their goods themselves. The number of craft vendors outweighs the food vendors, Jones said. Thirty-nine vendors signed up for the 2016-17 season, although not all are present each week. The Indoor Market also features live music on most mornings.
Garden of Eden Kingdom Living hot sauces and vinaigrettes are made and sold by Karen Long and Kim Harrington, who own an artisan condiment business. Have a tissue handy if you try their tasty Edens Extra Spicy Hot Sauce.
Crafts, Food, and More
Rosemary Weber has been selling her crocheted hats, headbands, yarn octopuses, potholders, and bookmarks at the market since its beginnings. “The kids love these,” Weber said, referring to the bookmarks that sell for 25 cents apiece, or five for a dollar. “I’m very happy here at the market, and I’m lucky to do this.”
Crafter Mary Wojciechowski said she loves the people — both customers and the other vendors. She crafts dishtowels and features potholders with screened images of different dog breeds. Wojciechowski sews the potholders from purchased screened fabric.
Jennifer Teffer owns Pheasant Run, offering cards, environmentally safe laundry soap, and pure wild rice, also known as manoomin, the Ojibwa tribe’s word for true wild rice that translates to “good berry.” Teffer, who was chatting during downtime with others that pulled up chairs to join her at her booth, said she specifically likes the market setting of the atrium.
Things that spin are a specialty of toy top and gyro-maker Chuck McMurry, a whiz with a lathe. His toys are made from recycled wood objects like rolling pins and chairs and are dyed with nontoxic pigments.
Carol Pierce is an independent beauty consultant with Mary Kay cosmetics and another long-time vendor at the market. Her table included a full product display of cosmetics, creams, and lotions. Avon representative Marilyn Petersen sat at her table with a large assortment of cosmetics and jewelry, chatting with customers.
Bayview Sports & Accessories sells licensed sports apparel, but one of their best sellers at the market is a T-shirt of their own design artfully depicting the logos of four favorite Wisconsin teams: Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Milwaukee Bucks.
Ruegsegger Farms, of Paoli, Wis., is best known for pasture raised, grass-fed meats. Its owner Ken Ruegsegger greets his customers Saturday mornings at the market. At his booth, shoppers will find root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, alliums, squash, soy-free eggs, honey, and maple syrup. Ruegsegger’s farm consists of 140 acres but he also rents some additional land. He comes to the Indoor Market biweekly to distribute to his Milwaukee-area customers and sell to others at the St. Ann Market.
Cindy Lopez of Lopez Bakery sells their popular tamales, guacamole, salsa, chips, and churros. Lopez also praised the market’s camaraderie among vendors and customers, as well as the location, noting it’s ideal for the community and for the clients and employees of St. Ann’s.
Wayne and Belinda Copus of Country Meadows Farm in Racine, sell natural goat’s milk soap, lotion, and soy candles, all free of lye and harsh chemicals. They have popular year-round scents such as cherry or juniper berry, and seasonal scents like honeysuckle in spring or pumpkin in fall. When asked what they like best about participating at the Indoor Market, Belinda replied, “Yolanda!” without hesitation and gestured toward Jones, who grinned.
The market’s dedicated customer base includes Karen McCaigue, who comes to the market every week. “It’s a great to connect to local people,” she said.
Her sister Sharon McCaigue agrees. “It gives us something to do in the winter,” she added.
The market runs Saturdays from 9am to 1pm through April 29. More info: stanncenter.org.
Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.
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