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Seattle's biggest holiday makers market returns this weekend

A crowd of people shopping around at different vendor stalls.
Lydia Brewer
Over 150 makers will be at the market which runs Friday thru Sunday.

One of Seattle’s biggest makers markets of the holiday season is this weekend. Now in its 19th year, Urban Craft Uprising will take over Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall.

Kristen Rask is the head of the organization that puts on the market. She said this year they had over 600 applications and just over 150 spots for vendors. Organizers try and always have new makers.

Previous vendors aren’t guaranteed a spot, in part to make sure less experienced makers have the opportunity. Rask said acceptance into the market is seen as a huge achievement for many of the smaller makers.

"It's so cool to hear how it can be an ego boost," Rask said. "I feel like this is one that people really kind of are like…this is a pinnacle of what they've been aiming for."

Rask said they take several things into account when looking at vendor applications including having a healthy variety of makers. What they don't want is all candlemakers and jewelry designers.

"There's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, but we really want everyone there to succeed," Rask said.

Instead, they try and pick out vendors who are doing something different with their craft. Or have a unique story, like Spir Candle Co. which employs formerly incarcerated men.

The Seattle-based company sells their candles wholesale but the company's founder Nate Stone said it's really the holiday season that carries the business. Last year they did 54% of their sales in November and December.

Stone said they are also at the farmer’s market in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood every week. But he said it’s hit or miss, people there to buy food or take a stroll after brunch aren’t necessarily buying candles.

"Whereas for things like the Urban Craft, you know, it's kind of in its own little area, and so you don't just stumble on it," Stone said "You're there because you want to buy stuff so I think that helps quite a bit."

The money made from the candles is then poured right back into hiring more employees.

"Every time someone buys a candle of ours, I feel like they're voting with their wallet," Stone said. "As people go into these markets and they spend, I think it's really inspiring if they choose to do so with intention.

Urban Craft Uprising has a preview day on Friday that requires a ticket but Saturday and Sunday are free and open to the public.

Grace Madigan is KNKX's former Arts & Culture reporter. Her stories focused on how people express themselves and connect to their communities through art, music, media, food, and sport.