Pop-up market connects artists and nonprofit in Fairfield

FAIRFIELD — Aiding a local nonprofit was a good reason for some local vendors to organize a pop-up store on Saturday.

“We decided to do it to benefit Operation Hope,” explained organizer Maryann Garcia, who operates a Fairfield-based jewelry business, Get Hammered. “Because of the pandemic they couldn’t do a lot of their benefits.”

So with space donated by The Pantry along Henry Carter Drive, a dozen local vendors brought their wares for sale and each contributed to the local charity in the process.

“I just thought, ‘Why don’t we make some good use of this space?’” said Kirsten Guldbrandsen, co-owner of the pantry, who likewise helped the group out in December when a successful pop-up at the location before the holidays helped raise $1,000 for Operation Hope.

“People always approach me at the store to sell items, (but) I don’t have the space in the store,” she said, noting that the series of rooms and offices is partially used as a break room for employees.

But Saturday, the space offered a chance for visitors to see some of the unique, handmade products created by area artisans, as well as to hear live music outdoors from several local bands.

“I’m excited to be doing something local and meet new people from the town,” said Kayla Krasnow, a Fairfield native who displayed her clothing line from her independent company Shop Our Dyes.

Residents were also happy to meet and support the local businesses.

“I just love shopping small,” said customer Sarah McBrair, of Fairfield, who herself runs an online boutique called Saltwater. “It feels so much better than shopping at the big box stores.”

For McBrair, patronizing small businesses is a reciprocal process she takes seriously.

“If you don’t come out and support these local businesses, they’re not going to be around,” she said.

It was a chance for the artisans and businesses to meet each other too.

“It’s nice to meet some of the local vendors too,” said Libby Curulla, of Trumbull-based Arm Candy LLC, which sells jewelry.

It was a new experience for some vendors.

“This is my first tabling event ever,” said Fairfield native Jonathan Hallama, who now runs the Norwalk-based Llama’s Garden, featuring plants, terrariums and the like.

“What’s better than music and shopping?” said the namesake of Teresa Rainieri Fine Art & Home, who originated the idea for the pop-up, along with Garcia.

“Hopefully we can continue to do it, maybe from twice a year to four times a year,” she said. “That would be really fun.”