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Pandemic drives Laurel’s Main Street Holiday Market online

With COVID-19 numbers rising and restrictions constantly changing, the Laurel Main Street Holiday Market scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 28, went from an in-person event to a virtual one just over a week and a half before its scheduled date.

“It’s a huge change,” said Karen Clark-Reddon, organizer of the event. “It’s going to be different.”

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Clark-Reddon has been the head of the event since its start three years ago when 10 vendors set-up on the vacant Farmers Market lot on Main Street. Over 100 small business applied to participate in this year’s event, according to Leigha Steele, economic development coordinator for the city of Laurel, who are supporters of the event. Sixty vendors were accepted, a larger tent was rented and a COVID-19 safe plan was put in place.

“We were signing up vendors to showcase when the news came that all events over 50 people had to be canceled,” Clark-Reddom said. “Having the holiday market online is not the same as being in the same physical room; however, a virtual event is a live event.”

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Each vendor participating will be slotted 15 minutes of live time to talk and interact with customers, Clark-Reddon said, with break-out rooms allowing more time and videos repeated.

“They will get multiple exposures this way,” Clark-Betton said. “It works out better. Live, if a person walks past, it was one shot.”

While details were still being worked out, Steele said the virtual event is a good option.

“More people will be able to participate and from the comfort of their homes,” Steele said. “We’re really excited to have another platform.”

Everything from art work to crafts, yarn, health and wellness products and jewelry will be offered at the market.

“There are definitely things you will not find anywhere else,” Clark-Reddon said. “I am a vendor and very vendor-focused. I do not want to have too many vendors of the same type. It needs to be fun and beneficial for everyone.”

Clark-Reddon’s daughter Kaelynm, 12, has sold her homemade soaps and bath bombs at the market and is now assisting Clark-Reddon with online preparations.

“She is my tech support,” Clark-Reddon said. “It will be a very interactive site.”

Pickup times for all purchases will be arranged with the vendors, with shipping a possibility in some instances, too.

“It is really important this year to support the businesses in this community,” Clark-Reddon said. “The shoppers keep this all vibrant.”

The city of Laurel, Clark-Reddon said, has also been very supportive of the market. Steele gave all the credit to Clark-Reddon.

“She came to me with the idea [for the market],” Steele said. “She volunteers her time to do this free for the community.”

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The Laurel Holiday Market will take place Saturday, Nov. 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To attend, go to tinyurl.com/laurelsbs.

Shoppers at last year's Laurel's Holiday Market. This year's market will be a virtual one on Saturday, Nov. 28.
Shoppers at last year's Laurel's Holiday Market. This year's market will be a virtual one on Saturday, Nov. 28. (Phil Grout//Baltimore Sun Media Group)

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