Second Opinion Magazine
Wisconsin Makers Market
By Becky Streeter
Welcome to the Wisconsin Makers Market on E. Grand Ave in downtown Eau Claire, where you can sip local coffee, munch a locally made snack, and peruse local handmade wares of all kinds. “Welcome” is the key word in that sentence, as that is exactly the feeling owner Chelsea Higley wants to share with all who walk through her doors.
Higley created the Wisconsin Makers Market in the wake of the pandemic. Right before the shutdown, she opened her own business called Essential Healing. Like many other small businesses at that time, she turned her focus to online sales and found a community of vendors all sharing the same struggles. She compiled many of these vendors into an online market that thrived throughout and despite the pandemic. Higley began fielding questions and providing advice, bringing local Wisconsin makers together in a time of separation. Realizing she had a knack for running a business, she decided to open a storefront and physically bring some of these vendors together under a real, concrete roof.
The Wisconsin Makers Market is NOT just another “buy local” business selling arts and crafts. From candles, pottery, and jewelry to soaps, embroidery, and dog treats, you can find a perfect gift for almost anyone here, but there’s more to it than that. With a few comfortable seats for that coffeehouse-style feel, it’s a place to enjoy what you see, enjoy where you’re at, and enjoy just being.
The store is as much for the vendor as it is for the patron. All items for sale within the shop are handmade by vendors from Wisconsin who just truly love to create. Vendors can sell on the main floor or be featured as a pop-up in one of three showcase rooms at the back of the store. Makers also have the opportunity to rent out space to host workshops, classes or retreats, even if they don’t sell products at the store. With so many options, vendors can choose which style works best for them and their individual business.
Community involvement and outreach is also a key component in Higley’s vision for her business. Wisconsin Makers Market hosts events at various sites around the Chippewa Valley. Some of the events include live music, some a cash bar, and some will hopefully be adding food trucks in the future as well. Many events also feature a raffle to raise money for a local non-profit organization. This gets vendors, whether or not they sell at the store, in different locations to reach a larger audience while also giving back to the community.
With the holiday season just ahead, Higley says, “With handmade products from over 70 Wisconsin-based vendors, you’re bound to find something you’ll love or the perfect gift!” So if you need to find that elusive perfect gift for someone (or yourself!), head on over to the Wisconsin Makers Market. You can learn more about the shop on Facebook or Instragram (@wisconsinmakersmarket) or visit the website (https://wisconsinmakersmarket.com) for information about the latest classes and events.